Nichelle Nichols, Pioneering Star Trek Actress and NASA Recruiter, Dies at Age 89 | Vanity Fair

The communications officer aboard the original USS Enterprise delighted fans onscreen and at conventions for more than 50 years. 

By Jordan Hoffman, July 31, 2022

By CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Nichelle Nichols, best known for her groundbreaking role as Lt. Uhura on Star Trek, passed away on Saturday, a family spokesperson said on Sunday.

Her presence as one of the USS Enterprise’s heroic bridge officers was groundbreaking in 1966.

As an 11-year-old Whoopi Goldberg famously called out to her mother, “There’s a Black lady on TV and she ain’t no maid!” After completing the original show’s three seasons, Nichols continued her portrayal in a short-lived animated show in the early 1970s, and in a succession of six films from 1979 to 1991. She was 89 years old at the time of her death.

Born in 1932 in a suburb of Chicago, Nichols began her career as a singer and dancer, touring with both Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton’s bands. She appeared at the legendary Blue Angel club in New York, as well as the Playboy Club, and was in a production of Carmen Jones in Chicago. She also had an uncredited role as a dancer in Otto Preminger’s 1959 film version of Porgy and Bess.

Source: Nichelle Nichols, Pioneering Star Trek Actress and NASA Recruiter, Dies at Age 89 | Vanity Fair