Star Trek icon Nichelle Nichols has passed away.
Nichelle Nichols, star of television and film, passed away at the age of 89. The veteran actress is most famous for her turn on Star Trek as Uhura, becoming an icon for her work on the series. She pushed the bounds of what many thought was possible for a black woman in the 1960s and opened up new possibilities and opportunities for women everywhere due to her work both in and out of the world of science and science fiction.
She was such a figure in the community that even leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of her cultural impact. Nichols’ impact on the world of not just science fiction but science cannot be overstated enough. She was the reason many young women took chances in a time when those chances weren’t that available.
Nichols passed away overnight, with an update coming from her personal website via her son, explaining she passed away due to natural causes.
"Dear Friends, Fans, Colleagues, World,I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years.Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light, however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration.Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.Live Long and Prosper,Kyle Johnson"
Nichols had been battling health problems for several years, specifically dealing with dementia for some time.
Nichelle Nichols’ impact lives on in Star Trek
The impact that Nichols has had on science is massive, too massive to cover here. Her impact on Star Trek may have been just as large. While she was part of the franchise for the first 20 years across the television series and six films, her impact as Uhura has lasted long past her time in front of the camera.
Due to her charisma and fan support, Star Trek has brought back her iconic character twice with two different women wonderfully bringing their own essence to the character that Nichols made famous. Without Nichols, who knows if Zoe Saldana and Celia Rose Gooding would have the careers they have now?
Sure, Saldana is at the top of the industry but part of the reason why is because she was so well heralded for her turn as Uhura in the JJ Abrams version of Star Tre films. For Gooding, the role of Uhura is easily the biggest role she’s played to this point in her career and has set her up for a huge future.
Even though Nichols left the role in the early 1990s, her legacy continues on in Star Trek, and it not only is being well taken care of by the new generation of ladies but it’s given these women a bigger platform as well.
That’s a tremendously huge impact that few will ever truly know.
Thank you, Nichelle Nichols.