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‘Star Trek’ Icon Nichelle Nichols Dead At 89

By Oreoritse Tariemi
01 August 2022   |   4:58 am
Nichelle Nichols, known for her role as communications officer "Lieutenant Uhura" in "Star Trek: The Original Series," has died at age 89. Gilbert Bell, Nichols' talent manager and longtime business partner, confirmed the tragic news to Variety, revealing that Nichols passed away on Saturday night in Silver City, New Mexico. Generations of TV viewers were…

Nichelle Nichols, known for her role as communications officer “Lieutenant Uhura” in “Star Trek: The Original Series,” has died at age 89.

Gilbert Bell, Nichols’ talent manager and longtime business partner, confirmed the tragic news to Variety, revealing that Nichols passed away on Saturday night in Silver City, New Mexico.

Generations of TV viewers were inspired by Nichols and her character.

After the first season of the show, Nichols thought about leaving to pursue a career on Broadway, but Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. convinced her to stay because her character was crucial in paving the path for other African Americans on television.

On “Star Trek,” Nichols shared one of the first interracial kisses ever seen on television. Given the political climate at the time, that moment with William Shatner was a brave one for her, “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry, and NBC. However, the 1968 episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” was written to give everyone involved a pass: Uhura and Captain Kirk did not choose to kiss; they were forced to do so involuntarily by aliens with the ability to control the movements of humans. Nevertheless, it was a significant occasion.

Nichols’ character Uhura has been hailed as a role model by Whoopi Goldberg, who portrayed Guinan on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” who expressed her surprise at seeing a Black woman on television who wasn’t playing a maid.

Her death has been mourned by many fans and celebrities worldwide.

Famous novelist Stephen King shared on Twitter, “Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura on the original STAR TREK series–and broke new ground–has passed away at 89.”

CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change Bernice King tweeted, “Representation matters. Excellence in representation matters even more. Thank you, #NichelleNichols. Rest well, ancestor.”

Nichols’s death announcement follows the death of NBA legend and civil rights activist Bill Russell.

Bill Russell Photo Sky Sports

Russell’s family announced his passing in an official statement from his verified account on July 31 2022.

“Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in American sports history, passed away peacefully today at age 88, with his wife, Jeannine, by his side,” the statement wrote.

 

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A post shared by Bill Russell (@realbillrussell)

Russell won two high school state championships, two NCAA championships, an Olympic gold medal, and 11 NBA championships.

Bill Russell was the first black head coach of any sports team in the entire United States to claim a championship.