Nichelle Nichols Star Trek

NICHELLE NICHOLS ~ UHURA ~ STAR TREK

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Nichelle Nichols

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Nichelle Nichols
Nichols in 1979
BornGrace Dell Nichols
December 28, 1932
Robbins, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJuly 30, 2022 (aged 89)
Silver City, New Mexico, U.S.
EducationEnglewood High School
OccupationActresssingerdancer
Years active1959–2019
Notable credit(s)Nyota Uhura in Star Trek
Spouse(s)Foster Johnson​​(m. 1951; div. 1951)​Duke Mondy​​(m. 1968; div. 1972)​
ChildrenKyle Johnson

Nichelle Nichols (/nɪˈʃɛl/ born Grace Dell Nichols; December 28, 1932 – July 30, 2022) was an American actress, singer and dancer best known for her portrayal of Nyota Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series, and its film sequels. Nichols’ portrayal of Uhura was ground-breaking for African American actresses on American television.[1] From 1977 until 2015, Nichols volunteered her time to promote NASA‘s programs, and to recruit diverse astronauts, including women and ethnic minorities.[2][3]

Contents

Early life

Grace Dell Nichols was born the third of six children on December 28, 1932,[4][5][6] in Robbins, a suburb of ChicagoIllinois, to Samuel Earl Nichols, a factory worker who was elected both town mayor of Robbins in 1929[7] and its chief magistrate, and his wife, Lishia (Parks) Nichols, a homemaker.[8] Later, the family moved into an apartment in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago. For high school, Nichols attended Englewood High School, from where she graduated in 1951.[9][10] Nichols also studied in New York City and Los Angeles.

Career

Her break came in an appearance in Kicks and Co.Oscar Brown‘s highly touted but ill-fated 1961 musical.[11] In a thinly veiled satire of Playboy magazine, she played Hazel Sharpe, a voluptuous campus queen who was being tempted by the devil and Orgy Magazine to become “Orgy Maiden of the Month”. Although the play closed after a short run in Chicago, Nichols attracted the attention of Hugh Hefner, the publisher of Playboy, who booked her for his Chicago Playboy Club.[12][13] She also appeared in the role of Carmen for a Chicago stock company production of Carmen Jones and performed in a New York production of Porgy and Bess. Between acting and singing engagements, Nichols did occasional modeling work.

In January 1967, Nichols also was featured on the cover of Ebony magazine, and had two feature articles in the publication in five years.[14] Nichols toured the United States, Canada and Europe as a singer with the Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton bands.[15] On the West Coast, she appeared in The Roar of the Greasepaint and For My People and she garnered high praise for her performance in the James Baldwin play Blues for Mister Charlie. Prior to being cast as Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek, Nichols was a guest actress on television producer Gene Roddenberry‘s first series The Lieutenant (1964) in an episode, “To Set It Right“, which dealt with racial prejudice.[16]

Star Trek

Main article: Nyota Uhura

via GIPHY

https://media.giphy.com/media/l46CvEnI8SNavidmo/giphy.gif

via GIPHY

Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek, 1967

On Star Trek, Nichols was one of the first black women featured in a major television series. Her prominent supporting role as a bridge officer was unprecedented.[1] Nichols was once tempted to leave the series; however, a conversation with Martin Luther King Jr. changed her mind. Towards the end of the first season, Nichols was given the opportunity to take a role on Broadway. She preferred the stage to the television studio, so she decided to take the role. Nichols went to Roddenberry’s office, told him that she planned to leave, and handed him her resignation letter. Roddenberry tried to convince Nichols to stay but to no avail, so he told her to take the weekend off and if she still felt that she should leave then he would give her his blessing. That weekend, Nichols attended a banquet that was being run by the NAACP, where she was informed that a fan really wanted to meet her.[17]

I thought it was a Trekkie, and so I said, ‘Sure.’ I looked across the room and whoever the fan was had to wait because there was Dr. Martin Luther King walking towards me with this big grin on his face. He reached out to me and said, ‘Yes, Ms. Nichols, I am your greatest fan.’ He said that Star Trek was the only show that he, and his wife Coretta, would allow their three little children to stay up and watch. [She told King about her plans to leave the series because she wanted to take a role that was tied to Broadway.] I never got to tell him why, because he said, ‘you cannot, you cannot…for the first time on television, we will be seen as we should be seen every day, as intelligent, quality, beautiful, people who can sing dance, and can go to space, who are professors, lawyers.” Dr. King Jr went further stating “If you leave, that door can be closed because your role is not a black role, and is not a female role, he can fill it with anybody even an alien.”

King personally encouraged her to stay on the series, saying she “could not give up” because she was playing a vital role model for black children and young women across the country, as well as for other children who would see black people appearing as equals, going so far as to favorably compare her work on the series to the marches of the ongoing civil rights movement.[1][18][19][20] This response by King left Nichols speechless, allowing her to realize how important to the civil rights movement her role was, and the next day she went back to Roddenberry’s office to tell him that she would stay. When she told Roddenberry what King had said, tears came to his eyes. Nichols asked Roddenberry for her role back and Roddenberry took out her resignation letter, which he had already torn up.

[21] Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison has cited Nichols’ role of Lieutenant Uhura as her inspiration for wanting to become an astronaut and Whoopi Goldberg has also spoken of Nichols’ influence.[22] Goldberg asked for a role on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the character Guinan was specially created, while Jemison appeared on an episode of the series.[23]

In her role as Lieutenant Uhura, Nichols kissed white actor William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk in the November 22, 1968, Star Trek episode “Plato’s Stepchildren“. The episode is cited as the first example of an interracial kiss on scripted U.S. television, although several earlier examples exist.[24][25][26] The Shatner/Nichols kiss was seen as groundbreaking, even though it was portrayed as having been forced by alien telekinesis. There was some praise and some protest. On page 197 of her 1994 autobiography Beyond Uhura, Star Trek and Other Memories, Nichols cites a letter from a white Southerner who wrote, “I am totally opposed to the mixing of the races. However, any time a red-blooded American boy like Captain Kirk gets a beautiful dame in his arms that looks like Uhura, he ain’t gonna fight it.” During the Comedy Central Roast of Shatner on August 20, 2006, Nichols jokingly referred to the kiss and said, “what do you say, let’s make a little more TV history … and kiss my black ass![27]

Despite the cancellation of the series in 1969, Star Trek lived on in other ways, and continued to play a part in Nichols’ life. She again provided the voice of Uhura in Star Trek: The Animated Series; in one episode, “The Lorelei Signal”, Uhura assumes command of the Enterprise.[28] Nichols noted in her autobiography her frustration that this never happened on the original series. Nichols co-starred in six Star Trek films, the last one being Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Following the death of Leonard Nimoy in 2015, Nichols was one of four surviving cast members, the others being William ShatnerGeorge Takei, and Walter Koenig.

Other acting roles

Nichols in September 2012

In 1994, Nichols published her autobiography Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories. In it, she claimed that the role of Peggy Fair in the television series Mannix was offered to her during the final season of Star Trek, but producer Gene Roddenberry refused to release her from her contract. Between the end of the original series and the Star Trek animated series and feature films, Nichols appeared in small television and film roles. She briefly appeared as a secretary in Doctor, You’ve Got to Be Kidding! (1967),[citation needed] and portrayed Dorienda, a foul-mouthed madam in Truck Turner (1974) opposite Isaac Hayes, her only appearance in a blaxploitation film.[29]

Nichols appeared in animated form as one of Al Gore‘s Vice Presidential Action Rangers in the “Anthology of Interest I” episode of Futurama, and she provided the voice of her own head in a glass jar in the episode “Where No Fan Has Gone Before“. She voiced the recurring role of Elisa Maza‘s mother Diane Maza in the animated series Gargoyles, and played Thoth-Kopeira in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series. In 2004, she provided the voice for herself in The Simpsons episode “Simple Simpson“. In the comedy film Snow Dogs (2002), Nichols appeared as the mother of the male lead, played by Cuba Gooding Jr. In 2006, she appeared as the title character in the film Lady Magdalene’s, the madam of a legal Nevada brothel in tax default. She also served as executive producer and choreographer, and sang three songs in the film, two of which she composed. In addition to her acting skills, Nichols is an accomplished dancer and singer. She was twice nominated for the Chicago theatrical Sarah Siddons Award for Best Actress. The first nomination was for her portrayal of Hazel Sharpe in Kicks and Co.; the second for her performance in The Blacks.

Nichols played a recurring role on the second season of the NBC drama Heroes. Her first appearance was on the episode “Kindred“, which aired October 8, 2007. She portrayed Nana Dawson, the matriarch of a New Orleans family financially and personally devastated by Hurricane Katrina, who cares for her orphaned grandchildren and her great-nephew, series regular Micah Sanders. In 2008, Nichols starred in the film The Torturer, playing the role of a psychiatrist. In 2009, she joined the cast of The Cabonauts, a sci-fi musical comedy that debuted on the Internet. Playing CJ, the CEO of the Cabonauts Inc, Nichols is also featured singing and dancing. On August 30, 2016, she was introduced as the aging mother of Neil Winters on the long-standing soap opera The Young and the Restless. She received her first Daytime Emmy nomination in the “Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series” category for this role March 22, 2017.[30]

Music

Nichols released two music albums. Down to Earth is a collection of standards released in 1967, during the original run of Star Trek.[31] Out of This World, released in 1991, is more rock oriented and is themed around Star Trek and space exploration.[32]

As Uhura, she sang songs in Star Trek episodes “Charlie X” and “The Conscience of the King“.[33]

Work with NASA

Nichols (fourth from the left) with most of the cast of Star Trek visiting the Space Shuttle Enterprise at the Rockwell International plant at Palmdale, California, U.S., 1976

After the cancellation of Star Trek, Nichols volunteered her time in a special project with NASA to recruit minority and female personnel for the space agency.[2] She began this work by making an affiliation between NASA and a company which she helped to run, Women in Motion.[34][35][36][37][38][39][40]

The program was a success. Among those recruited were Dr. Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut, and United States Air Force Colonel Guion Bluford, the first African-American astronaut, as well as Dr. Judith Resnik and Dr. Ronald McNair, who both flew successful missions during the Space Shuttle program before their deaths in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986. Recruits also included Charles Bolden, the former NASA administrator and veteran of four shuttle missions, Frederick D. Gregory, former deputy administrator and a veteran of three shuttle missions and Lori Garver, former deputy administrator. An enthusiastic advocate of space exploration, Nichols served from the mid-1980s on the board of governors of the National Space Institute (today’s National Space Society), a nonprofit, educational space advocacy organization.[37]

In late 2015, Nichols flew aboard NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Boeing 747SP, which analyzed the atmospheres of Mars and Saturn on an eight-hour, high-altitude mission. She was also a special guest at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on July 17, 1976, to view the Viking 1 soft landing on Mars. Along with the other cast members from the original Star Trek series, she attended the christening of the first space shuttle, Enterprise, at the North American Rockwell assembly facility in Palmdale, California. On July 14, 2010, she toured the space shuttle simulator and Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center.[41]

Nichols’ work with NASA is given significant focus in the documentary Woman in Motion about her life.[42]

Personal life

Nichols’ younger brother, Thomas, was a member of the Heaven’s Gate cult. He died on March 26, 1997, in the cult’s mass suicide that purposely coincided with the passing of Comet Hale–Bopp.[43] A member for 20 years, he frequently identified himself as Nichelle’s brother in promotional materials released by the cult.[44][45]

In her autobiography, Nichols wrote that she was romantically involved with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry for a few years in the 1960s. She said the affair ended well before Star Trek began, when she realized Roddenberry was also involved with her acquaintance Majel Hudec (known as Majel Barrett). Hudec went on to marry Gene Roddenberry and have a regular supporting role as nurse Christine Chapel on Star Trek.[46]

When Roddenberry’s health was fading, Nichols co-wrote a song for him, entitled “Gene”, which she sang at his funeral.

Nichols married twice, first to dancer Foster Johnson (1917–1981). They were married in 1951 and divorced that same year. Johnson and Nichols had one child together, Kyle Johnson, who was born August 14, 1951. She married Duke Mondy in 1968. They were divorced in 1972.[47]

On February 29, 2012, Nichols met with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. She later tweeted about the meeting, “Months ago, [President] Obama was quoted as saying that he’d had a crush on me when he was younger,” Nichols also wrote. “I asked about that and he proudly confirmed it! President Obama also confirmed for me that he was definitely a Trekker! How wonderful is that?!”[48]

Health and death

In June 2015, Nichols suffered a mild stroke at her Los Angeles home and was admitted to a Los Angeles-area hospital.[49][50] A magnetic resonance imaging scan revealed a small stroke had occurred, and she began inpatient therapy. In early 2018, Nichols was diagnosed with dementia,[51] and subsequently announced her retirement from convention appearances.[52]

Following a legal dispute over the actions of her manager-turned-caretaker Gilbert Bell, her son Kyle Johnson filed for conservatorship in 2018. Before a court granted his petition in January 2019, Nichols’ friend Angelique Fawcette, who had already expressed concern in 2017 over Bell’s control of access to her, pressed for visitation rights, including by opposing Johnson’s petition. That dispute and a 2019 court case by Bell over being evicted from the guesthouse on Nichols’ property were both ongoing as of August 2021.[53]

Nichols died of natural causes in Silver City, New Mexico, on July 30, 2022, at the age of 89.[54][55]

Recognition

In 1982, Robert A. Heinlein dedicated his novel Friday to her.[56] Asteroid 68410 Nichols is named in her honor.[57]

In 1992, she was awarded a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame, for her contribution to television. In 1999, Nichols was awarded a Goldene Kamera for Kultstar des Jahrhunderts (English: Cult Star of the Century).[58] 2010, Nichols received an honorary degree from Los Angeles Mission College. Nichols received The Life Career Award, from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, in 2016, the first woman to receive it. The award was presented as part of the 42nd Saturn Awards ceremony. Nichols was awarded the Inkpot Award in 2018.[59]

Nichols was an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.[60]

Filmography

Films

YearTitleRoleNotes
1959Porgy and BessDancerUncredited
1966Tarzan’s Deadly SilenceRuana[61]
Made in ParisSalon customerUncredited extra
Mister BuddwingDice Player[61]
1967Doctor, You’ve Got to Be Kidding!Jenny Ribbock[62]
1974Truck TurnerDorinda[63]
1979Star Trek: The Motion PictureNyota Uhura
1982Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
1984Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
1986Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
The SupernaturalsSgt. Leona Hawkins[64]
1989Star Trek V: The Final FrontierNyota Uhura
1991Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
1995The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer SpaceSagan[61]
2002Snow DogsAmelia Brooks[61]
2004Surge of Power: The Stuff of HeroesOmen[65]
2005Are We There Yet?Miss Mable[66]
2008Lady Magdalene’sLady Magdalene / Maggie
Tru LovedGrandmother
The TorturerDoc
2012This Bitter EarthClara Watkins
2016RenegadesGrace Jemison
2018American NightmaresMystic Woman
The White OrchidTeresa Suskind
2019Surge of DawnOmen
Woman in MotionHerself
2020Unbelievable!!!!!Sensei / Aunt Petunia

Television

YearTitleRoleNotes
1964The LieutenantNorma BartlettEpisode: “To Set It Right
1966TarzanRuana2 episodes
1966–1969Star TrekNyota Uhura70 episodes
1970InsightEllieEpisode: “Old King Cole”
1973Star Trek: The Animated SeriesNyota Uhura / Additional voices22 episodes
1984Antony and CleopatraCharmian[61]TV film
1994GargoylesDiane Maza (voice)4 episodes
Batman: The Animated SeriesThoth Khepera (voice)Episode: “Avatar”
1996Star Trek: Deep Space NineNyota UhuraEpisode: “Trials and Tribble-ations“; archive footage
2000–2002FuturamaHerself (voice)2 episodes
2004The SimpsonsEpisode: “Simple Simpson
2007HeroesNana Dawson5 episodes
Star Trek: Of Gods and MenNyota UhuraFan production
2009The CabonautsCJEpisode: “Pilot”
2010Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake MonsterSenatorTV film
2016The Young and the RestlessLucinda Winters[67]4 episodes
2017Downward DogDeejay DeVineEpisode: “Old”
Sharknado 5: Global SwarmingSec. General StarrTV film
2022Star Trek: ProdigyNyota UhuraEpisode: “Kobayashi”; archive audio

Video games and theme park attractions

YearTitleRoleNotes
1992Star Trek: 25th AnniversaryNyota Uhura (voice)Video game; additional voices
1994Star Trek: Judgment RitesNyota Uhura (voice)Video game
1996–1998Star Trek AdventureNyota UhuraAmusement park feature; Appeared in several revisions

Bibliography

TitlePublisherDateISBNNotes
Beyond UhuraG. P. Putnam’s SonsOctober 19, 19940-399-13993-1
Saturn’s ChildPenguinOctober 17, 19950-399-14113-8with Margaret Wander Bonanno

See also

USA TODAY

Nichelle Nichols, ‘Star Trek’ icon who played Lieutenant Uhura, dies at 89

  • Nichelle Nichols
  • William Shatner

Kim Willis, USA TODAY

Sun, July 31, 2022 at 10:56 AM·3 min read

In this article:

  • Nichelle NicholsNichelle NicholsAmerican actress
  • William ShatnerWilliam ShatnerCanadian actor
Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on "Star Trek," has died at 89.
Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on “Star Trek,” has died at 89.

Trailblazer Nichelle Nichols, who played “Star Trek” communications officer Lieutenant Uhura in the 1960s TV show and shared one of television’s first interracial kisses with William Shatner, has died at 89.

Her son Kyle Johnson announced her death in a statement posted on her Facebook page. Family friend Sky Conway confirmed to USA TODAY that Nichols died Saturday evening in Silver City, New Mexico, calling her “truly transformational” and “an amazing person.”

“I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years,” Johnson wrote on Facebook. “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.”

Nichols played Uhura on the original “Star Trek” TV series from 1966 to 1969 and reprised her role in six “Star Trek” films, starting with 1979’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” She was widely praised for breaking down barriers in an era when Black women were rarely seen in prominent TV roles.

“I shall have more to say about the trailblazing, incomparable Nichelle Nichols, who shared the bridge with us as Lt. Uhura of the USS Enterprise,” her co-star George Takei wrote on Twitter. “For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend.”

Nichols, born Grace Dell Nichols in Robbins, Illinois, started her career as a dancer and singer, and she wanted to be the first Black ballerina when she was younger. She originally danced ballet during performances by Duke Ellington and his band, but Ellington asked her to sing one night when the lead performer became sick and left the band.

Once in Hollywood, she made her film debut in 1959’s “Porgy and Bess,” the first of a string of film and TV roles that led up to her “Star Trek.”

She planned to leave the show after its first season to explore other acting opportunities, but a fan surprised Nichols at an NAACP event and was disappointed to hear she was thinking of quitting. The fan was Martin Luther King Jr., who told her “Star Trek” was the only TV he allowed his children to watch, and convinced her to remain on the show.

During the show’s third season, Nichols’ Uhura and Shatner’s Captain Kirk shared what was described as the first interracial kiss to be broadcast on a U.S. TV series. In the episode, “Plato’s Stepchildren,” their characters, who maintained a platonic relationship, were forced into the kiss by aliens who were controlling their actions.

In 1977, Nichols was appointed to the board of directors of the National Space Institute and later was invited to NASA headquarters, just as NASA was looking to expand its pool of talent and diversify. NASA asked Nichols, who had also started a consultant firm, Women in Motion, to help recruit more women and people of color applicants for the astronaut program. In just four months, Nichols was credited with bringing in more than 8,000 applications, of which more than 1,600 were women and more than 1,000 were people of color.

Johnson said a private service would be held for family members and close friends, and signed his statement, “Live Long and Prosper.”

Nichols suffered a stroke in 2015 and her son revealed she was suffering from dementia in 2018.

Contributing: Felecia Wellington Radel, USA TODAY, and The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nichelle Nichols dies: ‘Star Trek’ icon, 89, played Lieutenant Uhura

Nichelle Nichols Net Worth 2022, Death, Husband, Children, Movies, TV Shows

Nichelle Nichols

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Read the complete write-up of Nichelle Nichols net worth, death, age, husband, children, height, family, parents, salary, movies, tv shows, cause of death as well as other information you need to know.

Introduction

Nichelle Nichols was an American actress, singer, and dancer. She is best known for her portrayal of Nyota Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series, and its film sequels. Nichols’ portrayal of Uhura was ground-breaking for African American actresses on American television. From 1977 until 2015, Nichols volunteered her time to promote NASA’s programs, and recruit diverse astronauts, including women and ethnic minorities.

Early life

NameNichelle Nichols
Net Worth$10 million
OccupationActress, Singer, Dancer
Age89 years
Height1.68m

Nichelle Nichols net worth

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Nichelle Nichols whose birth name is Grace Dell Nichols was born on December 28, 1932, until her death on July 30, 2022, at age 89 years. She was born and raised in Robbins, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, United States. Nichelle is the third child of six children of Samuel Earl Nichols, a factory worker who was elected both town mayor of Robbins in 1929 and its chief magistrate, and his wife, Lishia (Parks) Nichols, a homemaker. Later, the family moved into an apartment in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago. For high school, she attended Englewood High School, from where she graduated in 1951. Nichols also studied in New York City and Los Angeles. Nichols’ younger brother, Thomas, was a member of the Heaven’s Gate cult. He died on March 26, 1997, in the cult’s mass suicide that purposely coincided with the passing of Comet Hale–Bopp. A member for 20 years, he frequently identified himself as Nichelle’s brother in promotional materials released by the cult.

Career

Nichelle Nichols’s break came in an appearance in Kicks and Co., Oscar Brown’s highly touted but ill-fated 1961 musical. In a thinly veiled satire of Playboy magazine, she played Hazel Sharpe, a voluptuous campus queen who was being tempted by the devil and Orgy Magazine to become “Orgy Maiden of the Month”. Although the play closed after a short run in Chicago, Nichols attracted the attention of Hugh Hefner, the publisher of Playboy, who booked her for his Chicago Playboy Club.

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Nichols also appeared in the role of Carmen for a Chicago stock company production of Carmen Jones and performed in a New York production of Porgy and Bess. Between acting and singing engagements, Nichols did occasional modeling work. In January 1967, Nichols also was featured on the cover of Ebony magazine and had two feature articles in the publication in five years. Nichols toured the United States, Canada and Europe as a singer with the Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton bands.

On the West Coast, she appeared in The Roar of the Greasepaint and For My People and she garnered high praise for her performance in the James Baldwin play Blues for Mister Charlie. Prior to being cast as Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek, Nichols was a guest actress on television producer Gene Roddenberry’s first series The Lieutenant (1964) in an episode, “To Set It Right”, which dealt with racial prejudice.

Star Trek

Nichelle Nichols was one of the first Black women featured on Star Trek a major television series. Her prominent supporting role as a bridge officer was unprecedented. Nichols was once tempted to leave the series; however, a conversation with Martin Luther King Jr. changed her mind. Towards the end of the first season, Nichols was given the opportunity to take a role on Broadway.

Nichols preferred the stage to the television studio, so she decided to take the role. Nichols went to Roddenberry’s office, told him that she planned to leave, and handed him her resignation letter. Roddenberry tried to convince Nichols to stay but to no avail, so he told her to take the weekend off and if she still felt that she should leave then he would give her his blessing. That weekend, Nichols attended a banquet that was being run by the NAACP, where she was informed that a fan really wanted to meet her.

I thought it was a Trekkie, and so I said, ‘Sure.’ I looked across the room and whoever the fan was had to wait because there was Dr. Martin Luther King walking toward me with this big grin on his face. He reached out to me and said, ‘Yes, Ms. Nichols, I am your greatest fan.’ He said that Star Trek was the only show that he, and his wife Coretta, would allow their three little children to stay up and watch. [She told King about her plans to leave the series because she wanted to take a role that was tied to Broadway.] I never got to tell him why, because he said, ‘you cannot, you cannot…for the first time on television, we will be seen as we should be seen every day, as intelligent, quality, beautiful, people who can sing dance, and can go to space, who are professors, lawyers.” Dr. King Jr went further stating “If you leave, that door can be closed because your role is not a black role, and is not a female role, he can fill it with anybody even an alien.”

King personally encouraged her to stay on the series, saying she “could not give up” because she was playing a vital role model for Black children and young women across the country, as well as for other children who would see Black people appearing as equals, going so far as to favorably compare her work on the series to the marches of the ongoing civil rights movement. This response by King left Nichols speechless, allowing her to realize how important to the civil rights movement her role was, and the next day she went back to Roddenberry’s office to tell him that she would stay.

When she told Roddenberry what King had said, tears came to his eyes. Nichelle Nichols asked Roddenberry for her role back and Roddenberry took out her resignation letter, which he had already torn up. Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison has cited Nichols’ role of Lieutenant Uhura as her inspiration for wanting to become an astronaut and Whoopi Goldberg has also spoken of Nichols’ influence. Goldberg asked for a role on Star Trek: The Next Generation and the character Guinan was specially created, while Jemison appeared on an episode of the series.

In her role as Lieutenant Uhura, Nichelle Nichols kissed white actor William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk in the November 22, 1968, Star Trek episode “Plato’s Stepchildren”. The episode is cited as the first example of an interracial kiss on scripted U.S. television, although several earlier examples exist. The Shatner/Nichols kiss was seen as groundbreaking, even though it was portrayed as having been forced by alien telekinesis. There was some praise and some protest.

On page 197 of her 1994 autobiography Beyond Uhura, Star Trek and Other Memories, Nichols cites a letter from a white Southerner who wrote, “I am totally opposed to the mixing of the races. However, any time a red-blooded American boy like Captain Kirk gets a beautiful dame in his arms that looks like Uhura, he ain’t gonna fight it.” During the Comedy Central Roast of Shatner on August 20, 2006, Nichols jokingly referred to the kiss and said, “what do you say, let’s make a little more TV history … and kiss my black ass!”.

Despite the cancellation of the series in 1969, Star Trek lived on in other ways, and continued to play a part in Nichols’ life. She again provided the voice of Uhura in Star Trek: The Animated Series; in one episode, “The Lorelei Signal”, Uhura assumes command of the Enterprise. Nichols noted in her autobiography her frustration that this never happened on the original series. Nichols co-starred in six Star Trek films, the last one being Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Following the death of Leonard Nimoy in 2015, Nichols was one of four surviving cast members, the others being William Shatner, George Takei, and Walter Koenig.

Nichelle Nichols published her autobiography Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories in 1994. In it, she claimed that the role of Peggy Fair in the television series Mannix was offered to her during the final season of Star Trek, but producer Gene Roddenberry refused to release her from her contract. Between the end of the original series and the Star Trek animated series and feature films, Nichols appeared in small television and film roles. She briefly appeared as a secretary in Doctor, You’ve Got to Be Kidding! (1967), and portrayed Dorienda, a foul-mouthed madam in Truck Turner (1974) opposite Isaac Hayes, her only appearance in a blaxploitation film.

Nichols appeared in animated form as one of Al Gore’s Vice Presidential Action Rangers in the “Anthology of Interest I” episode of Futurama, and she provided the voice of her own head in a glass jar in the episode “Where No Fan Has Gone Before”. She voiced the recurring role of Elisa Maza’s mother Diane Maza in the animated series Gargoyles, and played Thoth-Kopeira in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series. In 2004, she provided the voice for herself in The Simpsons episode “Simple Simpson”.

She appeared in the comedy film Snow Dogs (2002) as the mother of the male lead, played by Cuba Gooding Jr. In 2006, she appeared as the title character in the film Lady Magdalene’s, the madam of a legal Nevada brothel in tax default. She also served as executive producer and choreographer and sang three songs in the film, two of which she composed. She was twice nominated for the Chicago theatrical Sarah Siddons Award for Best Actress. The first nomination was for her portrayal of Hazel Sharpe in Kicks and Co.; the second for her performance in The Blacks.

Nichelle Nichols played a recurring role in the second season of the NBC drama Heroes. Her first appearance was on the episode “Kindred”, which aired on October 8, 2007. She portrayed Nana Dawson, the matriarch of a New Orleans family financially and personally devastated by Hurricane Katrina, who cares for her orphaned grandchildren and her great-nephew, series regular Micah Sanders. In 2008, Nichols starred in the film The Torturer, playing the role of a psychiatrist.

In 2009, she joined the cast of The Cabonauts, a sci-fi musical comedy that debuted on the Internet. Playing CJ, the CEO of Cabonauts Inc, Nichols is also featured in singing and dancing. On August 30, 2016, she was introduced as the aging mother of Neil Winters on the long-standing soap opera The Young and the Restless. She received her first Daytime Emmy nomination in the “Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series” category for this role on March 22, 2017.

Music

Nichelle Nichols released two music albums. Down to Earth is a collection of standards released in 1967, during the original run of Star Trek. Out of This World, released in 1991, is more rock-oriented and is themed around Star Trek and space exploration. As Uhura, Nichols sang songs in Star Trek episodes “Charlie X” and “The Conscience of the King”.

Work with NASA

Nichelle Nichols volunteered her time in a special project with NASA to recruit minority and female personnel for the space agency after the cancellation of Star Trek. She began this work by making an affiliation between NASA and a company that she helped to run, Women in Motion. The program was a success. Among those recruited were Dr. Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut, and the United States Air Force Colonel Guion Bluford, the first African-American astronaut, as well as Dr. Judith Resnik and Dr. Ronald McNair, who both flew successful missions during the Space Shuttle program before their deaths in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986.

Recruits also included Charles Bolden, the former NASA administrator and veteran of four shuttle missions, Frederick D. Gregory, former deputy administrator and a veteran of three shuttle missions and Lori Garver, former deputy administrator. An enthusiastic advocate of space exploration, Nichols served from the mid-1980s on the board of governors of the National Space Institute (today’s National Space Society), a nonprofit, educational space advocacy organization.

In late 2015, Nichols flew aboard NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Boeing 747SP, which analyzed the atmospheres of Mars and Saturn on an eight-hour, high-altitude mission. She was also a special guest at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on July 17, 1976, to view the Viking 1 soft landing on Mars. Along with the other cast members from the original Star Trek series, she attended the christening of the first space shuttle, Enterprise, at the North American Rockwell assembly facility in Palmdale, California. On July 14, 2010, she toured the space shuttle simulator and Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center. Nichols’ work with NASA is given significant focus in the documentary Woman in Motion about her life.

Politics

On February 29, 2012, Nichols met with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. She later tweeted about the meeting, “Months ago, President Obama was quoted as saying that he’d had a crush on me when he was younger,” Nichols also wrote. “I asked about that and he proudly confirmed it! President Obama also confirmed for me that he was definitely a Trekker! How wonderful is that?!”. Nichols was a lifelong Democrat and a practicing Presbyterian.

Recognition

In 1982, Robert A. Heinlein dedicated his novel Friday to her. Asteroid 68410 Nichols is named in her honor. In 1992, she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for her contribution to television. In 1999, Nichols was awarded a Goldene Kamera for Kultstar des Jahrhunderts (English: Cult Star of the Century). 2010, Nichols received an honorary degree from Los Angeles Mission College. Nichols received The Life Career Award, from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, in 2016, the first woman to receive it. The award was presented as part of the 42nd Saturn Awards ceremony. Nichols was awarded the Inkpot Award in 2018. Nichols was an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

Relationship with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry

In her autobiography, Nichols wrote that she was romantically involved with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry for a few years in the 1960s. She said the affair ended well before Star Trek began when she realized Roddenberry was also involved with her acquaintance Majel Hudec (known as Majel Barrett). Hudec went on to marry Gene Roddenberry and have a regular supporting role as nurse Christine Chapel on Star Trek. When Roddenberry’s health was fading, Nichols co-wrote a song for him, entitled “Gene”, which she sang at his funeral.

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Following a legal dispute over the actions of her manager-turned-caretaker Gilbert Bell, her son Kyle Johnson filed for conservatorship in 2018. Before a court granted his petition in January 2019, Nichols’ friend Angelique Fawcette, who had already expressed concern in 2017 over Bell’s control of access to her, pressed for visitation rights, including by opposing Johnson’s petition. That dispute and a 2019 court case by Bell over being evicted from the guesthouse on Nichols’ property were both ongoing as of August 2021.

Husband

Nichelle Nichols married twice. Her first husband was dancer Foster Johnson (1917–1981). They were married in 1951 and divorced that same year. Johnson and Nichols had one child together, Kyle Johnson, who was born on August 14, 1951. She married her second husband Duke Mondy in 1968. They divorced in 1972. As of mid-2022, Nichelle Nichols was single and not married.

Cause of death

Nichelle Nichols suffered a mild stroke in June 2015 at her Los Angeles home and was admitted to a Los Angeles-area hospital. A magnetic resonance imaging scan confirmed a small stroke had occurred, and she began inpatient therapy. In early 2018, Nichols was diagnosed with dementia, and subsequently announced her retirement from convention appearances. Nichols died of natural causes in Silver City, New Mexico, on July 30, 2022, at the age of 89.

Nichelle Nichols net worth

How much is Nichelle Nichols worth? Nichelle Nichols net worth was estimated at around $10 million. Her main source of income was from her career as an actress, singer and dancer. Nichelle Nichols’s salary per movie and other career earnings are over $1.2 million annually. Her successful career earned her some luxurious lifestyles and fancy car trips. She was one of the richest and most influential actresses in the United States. Nichelle Nichols stood at an appealing height of 1.68m and had a good body weight which suits her personality.

References

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  2. Jump up to:a b Hahn, Michael (August 20, 2009). “GPN-2004-00017 – Nichelle Nichols, NASA Recruiter”NASA. Archived from the original on December 22, 2009. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  3. ^ Currie, Netisha (March 1, 2016). “To Boldly Go Where No (Wo)Man Has Gone Before…”. Rediscovering Black History, National Archives. Retrieved November 22, 2020. Many astronauts have credited Nichols and the character of Lt. Uhura as an inspiration to them for seeking out opportunities with NASA, including: Ronald McNair, Sally Ride, Judith Resnik, current NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and the first African American woman in space – Mae Jemison.
  4. ^ McCann, Bob (December 21, 2009). Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. McFarland. p. 251. ISBN 978-0-7864-5804-2.
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  7. ^ “Robbins History”Robbins History Museum. Retrieved January 15, 2022. Actress Nichelle Nichols’ grandfather, Samuel G. Nichols (a white man), was one of the village’s original settlers who was married a black woman. Nichelle Nichols who portrayed Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek television series also was hired by NASA to begin finding and recruiting qualified blacks for todays NASA Space program. Nichelle was born in a two-story frame house built by her grandparents in Robbins. Her father, Samuel E. Nichols, became the mayor of Robbins, IL in 1929.
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  40. ^ Arcynta Ali Childs (June 11, 2011). “Q & A: Nichelle Nichols, AKA Lt. Uhura, and NASA”. Smithsonian.com. Retrieved January 9, 2019. Ten years after “Star Trek” was cancelled, almost to the day, I was invited to join the board of directors of the newly formed National Space Society. They flew me to Washington and I gave a speech called “New Opportunities for the Humanization of Space” or “Space, What’s in it for me?” In [the speech], I’m going where no man or woman dares go. I took NASA on for not including women and I gave some history of the powerful women who had applied and, after five times applying, felt disenfranchised and backed off. [At that time] NASA was having their fifth or sixth recruitment and women and ethnic people [were] staying away in droves. I was asked to come to headquarters the next day and they wanted me to assist them in persuading women and people of ethnic backgrounds that NASA was serious [about recruiting them]. And I said you’ve got to be joking; I didn’t take them seriously. . . . John Yardley, who I knew from working on a previous project, was in the room and said ‘Nichelle, we are serious.’ I said OK. I will do this and I will bring you the most qualified people on the planet, as qualified as anyone you’ve ever had and I will bring them in droves. And if you do not pick a person of color, if you do not pick a woman, if it’s the same old, same old, all-white male astronaut corps, that you’ve done for the last five years, and I’m just another dupe, I will be your worst nightmare.
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  52. ^ Pascale, Anthony (May 19, 2018). “Nichelle Nichols Announces Farewell Tour, Convention And Documentary”TrekMovie.com. Retrieved January 11, 2020.
  53. ^ Easter, Makeda (August 15, 2021). “Inside the heartbreaking conservatorship battle of a ‘Star Trek’ legend”Los Angeles Times. California Times. Retrieved March 13, 2022.
  54. ^ Dagan, Carmel (July 31, 2022). “Nichelle Nichols, Uhura in ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 89”Variety.
  55. ^ “Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt Uhura in original Star Trek, dies aged 89”The Guardian. July 31, 2022. Retrieved July 31, 2022.
  56. ^ Heinlein, Robert A. (June 1983). FridayHenry Holt and CompanyISBN 9780030615160.
  57. ^ Chamberlin, Alan (September 26, 2005). “68410 Nichols (2001 QB154)”JPL Small-Body Database Browser. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  58. ^ “Goldene Kamera 1999 – 34. Verleihung”Goldene Kamera 1999. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  59. ^ “Inkpot Award”Comic-Con International: San Diego. December 6, 2012.
  60. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20070928000231/http://aka1908.org/present/membership/
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  62. ^ Willis, John, ed. (1968). Screen World 1968. Screen World. Vol. 19 (reprint ed.). Cheshire, Connecticut: Biblo & Tannen (published 1983). p. 26. ISBN 9780819603098.
  63. ^ Ottoson, Robert (1984). American International Pictures: A Filmography. Reference Library of the Humanities. Vol. 492. New York: Garland. p. 265. ISBN 9780824089764.
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  66. ^ “Ice Cube and Nia Long Star in Romantic Comedy Movie ‘Are We There Yet?'”Jet. Vol. 107, no. 4. Johnson Publishing Company. January 24, 2005. p. 59. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  67. ^ Swift, Andy (July 26, 2016). “Nichelle Nichols On ‘The Young And The Restless’ — 11,000th Episode”TVLine. Retrieved November 22, 2016.

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2016Jason AaronDerf BackderfMichael BarrierLuc BessonPeggy BurnsPeter DavidJim DavisTom DevlinBen DunnMatt FractionWilliam GibsonKieron GillenMike JudgeHidenori KusakaEd McGuinnessJamie McKelvieTsutomu NiheiChristopher PriestPhil RomanAlex SinclairJohn TrimbleSatoshi Yamamoto
2017Andrew AydinJon BogdanoveAlan BurnettJoyce ChinKevin FeigeRobin HobbJohn LewisJeph LoebJonathan MaberryGlenn McCoyKeith PollardNate PowellBrian SelznickR. SikoryakAlex SimmonsGail SimoneR. L. StineRon Wilson
2018Yoshitaka AmanoMarc BernardinCory DoctorowBrian FiesRichard FriendAlex GrecianDeborah HarknessElizabeth HandLarry HoustonDavid W. MackNichelle NicholsLiniersBrian PulidoRandy ReynaldoEric ReynoldsKevin SmithPeter TomasiShannon WheelerRafael Albuquerque
2019Wendy AllLeigh BardugoJon B. CookeMary FleenerGene HaJonathan HickmanArvell JonesCharlie KochmanCraig MillerPaco RocaScott SnyderBilly TucciChris WareMaryelizabeth Yturralde
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