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Star Trek legend Nichelle Nichols dies aged 89

Tributes have poured in

Rebecca Lewis
Rebecca Lewis - Los Angeles
Los Angeles correspondentLos Angeles
July 31, 2022
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Star Trek legend Nichelle Nichols has died at the age of 89.

MORE: Star Trek actress Celeste Yarnall passes away aged 74

The acclaimed actress was one of the first Black women on network TV in the 1960s when she took on the role of Nyota Uhura in the Star Trek original series, alongside William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.


Her son confirmed on Facebook on 31 July that she had died of "natural causes".

"Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away," Kyle Johnson wrote.

READ: Star Trek actor Jon Paul Steuer passes away aged 33

"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." 

He continued: "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."


Nichelle in 2018

 As well as starring in the series, she also appeared in the first six films.

Rod Roddenberry, son of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the series, paid tribute to the actress on Twitter writing: "It is with great sorrow that we report the passing on the legendary icon Nichelle Nichols. No words."

Her co-star George Takei tweeted: "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, and who passed today at age 89. For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend."

nichelle george

George and Nichelle in 2009

Nichelle was an inspiration to many, and famously stayed on the series after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr persuaded her not to pursue roles on Broadway. She was also the first female African American actor to have her handprints set in front of Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

In 2007 she appeared in the cult series Heroes, and also on US soap The Young and the Restless in 2016.

Nichelle was diagnosed with dementia several years ago and was placed under a conservatorship and in the care of her son.

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