Nichelle Nichols, who starred as Lt Uhura in Star Trek, dies aged 89

Nichelle Nichols, who found fame as communications officer Lt Uhura in the original Star Trek television series, has died at the age of 89.

Actor Nichelle Nichols, best known for her role as Nyota Uhura in "Star Trek," has died.
Actor Nichelle Nichols, best known for her role as Nyota Uhura in "Star Trek," has died.

Her son, Kyle Johnson, said she died on Saturday in Silver City, New Mexico.

Johnson wrote on her official Facebook page on Sunday: “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.

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    “Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.”

    Her role in the 1966-69 series as Lt Uhura earned Nichols a lifelong position of honour with the series’ fans, known as Trekkers and Trekkies.

    It also earned her accolades for breaking stereotypes that had limited black women to acting roles as servants and included an inter-racial on-screen kiss with co-star William Shatner that was unheard of at the time.

    She often recalled how the Rev Martin Luther King Jr was a fan of the show and praised her role and personally encouraged her to stay with the series.

    Like other original cast members, Nichols also appeared in six big-screen spinoffs, starting in 1979 with Star Trek: The Motion Picture and at Star Trek fan conventions.

    She also served for many years as a Nasa recruiter, helping bring minorities and women into the astronaut corps.

    More recently, she had a recurring role on television’s Heroes, playing the great-aunt of a young boy with mystical powers.