Nichelle Nichols’ mark on pop culture and the hearts of the people she touched is out of this world.
Nichols, who played “Star Trek” communications officer Lt. Nyota Uhura on the 1960s TV show and shared one of television’s first interracial kisses with William Shatner, died of natural causes on July 30. She was 89 years old.
His son, Kyle Johnson, announced his death in a statement posted on his Facebook page. “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. Family friend Sky Conway confirmed to USA TODAY that Nichols died Saturday night in Silver City, New Mexico.
“However, its light, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from and be inspired by,” Johnson added.
Nichelle Nichols:‘Star Trek’ icon who played Lt. Uhura dies at 89
The other “Star Trek” co-stars, including Shatner, and other celebrities shared their appreciation of Nichols on social media.
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“I am very sorry to learn of the death of Nichelle”, wrote Shatner on Twitter. “She was a beautiful woman and she played an admirable character who did so much to redefine social issues here in the United States and around the world. I will definitely miss her.”
Nichols played Uhura in the original “Star Trek” television series from 1966 to 1969 and reprized her role in six “Star Trek” films, beginning with “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” in 1979.
She was widely praised for breaking down barriers at a time when black women were rarely seen in prominent television roles.
Actor George Takei, who co-starred with Nichols in ‘Star Trek’ as Sulu, also took to Twitter to pay tribute to his “dearest friend”.
“I will have more to say about the pioneering and incomparable Nichelle Nichols, who shared the deck with us as Lieutenant Uhura of the USS Enterprise, and who passed away today at age 89,” Takei tweeted. “For today my heart is heavy, my eyes shine like the stars among which you now rest.”
Actress Celia Rose Gooding, who plays Uhura in “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” wrote that Nichols “made room for so many of us.”
“She reminded us that not only can we reach the stars, but our influence is essential to their survival,” Gooding continued. “Forget shaking the table, she built it.
“Nichelle Nichols was the first. She was a trailblazer who walked a very difficult trail with courage, grace and a beautiful fire that we are unlikely to see again,” wrote Kate Mulgrew, “Star Trek: Voyager” actress on Twitter. “May she rest in peace.”
Actor Wilson Cruz, who appeared on “Star Trek: Discovery,” said Nichols “modeled” the importance of inclusive media representation.
“With her presence and her grace, she shone a light on who we are as people of color and inspired us to reach our potential,” Cruz tweeted. “Rest well sparkling diamond in the sky.”
“Wonder Woman” star Lynda Carter said Nichols “showed us the extraordinary power of black women and paved the way for a brighter future for all women in media.”
“Many actors become stars, but few stars can move a nation,” wrote Carter on Twitter. “Thank you, Nichelle. We will miss you.”
Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams shared a photo of herself with Nichols on Twitter, calling Nichols “a champion, a warrior, and a tremendous actor.”
“One of my most precious photos,” Abrams wrote. “Her kindness and bravery lit the way for many. May she forever dwell among the stars.”
“Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander wished Nichols “a wonderful adventure to the final frontier.”
“My love for the original Star Trek runs deep,” Alexander tweeted. “Nichelle Nichols has been a glorious trailblazer and ambassador for her show, her role and her science all her life. And a truly lovely person.”
Director Adam Nimoy, whose father Leonard Nimoy starred alongside Nichols in “Star Trek,” shared a throwback photo of his father and Nichols on set.
“The importance of Nichelle’s legacy cannot be overstated,” wrote Nimoy on Twitter. “She was much loved and will be missed.”
“Nichelle Nichols left behind such a beautiful legacy of what it really means to use the platform you have to make the world a better place,” actress Ashley Nicole Black tweeted. “I often think of his example and hope others will too. Rest well, Lieutenant.”
“His light will continue to shine. Brighter and stronger than ever“Star Trek: Strange New Worlds actress Melissa Navia wrote on Twitter. “I can’t wait for the celebration of her life to come and all the stories that those who knew her best will share.”
“I had the chance to meet Nichelle Nichols a few times“, wrote “X-Men” writer David Hayter. “Last time I saw her, I said ‘Ms. Nichols, you look so beautiful today. She smiled and said, “Well, how did you expect me to be?” “
Contributor: Kim Willis