The 89-year-old ‘Star Trek’ icon played Lt. Uhura

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

His son, Kyle Johnson, announced his death in a statement posted on his Facebook page. Family friend Sky Conway confirmed to USA TODAY that Nichols died Saturday night in Silver City, New Mexico, calling her “truly transformative” and an “incredible 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. However, her light, like the ancient galaxies seen now for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy. enjoy, learn and be inspired. .

“His was a life well lived and as such a role model for all of us.”

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.

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"Star Trek: The Original Series" cast: Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols and DeForest Kelley.

“I I’m so sorry to hear of Nichelle’s passing.“, wrote Shatner on Twitter, who starred alongside Nichols in the original TV series. “She was a beautiful woman and played an admirable character who did so much to redefine social issues here in the United States and around the world. whole world.”

Shatner said she will “definitely be missed” and sent “love and condolences to her family.”

“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,” co-star George Takei wrote on Twitter. “For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shine like the stars among which you now restMy dearest friend.”

Actor Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Nyota Uhura on ''Star Trek,'' waves as she arrives at the "Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond" tribute at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles on October 6, 1996.

Nichols, born Grace Dell Nichols on December 28, 1932 in Robbins, Illinois, began her career as a dancer and singer, and she wanted to be the first black ballerina when she was younger. She first danced ballet at performances by Duke Ellington and his band, and got her break when Ellington asked her to sing one night when the lead performer fell ill.

Once in Hollywood, she made her film debut in “Porgy and Bess” in 1959, the first of a series of film and television roles that led to “Star Trek.”

USA Today

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