Colleagues & Notables Pay Tribute to ‘Star Trek’ Legend Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols' Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hollywood Walk of Fame Nichelle Nichols' Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

The death of Nichelle Nichols on July 30, 2022, has triggered dozens of tributes from notable figures who worked with her or whose lives and careers were impacted by the trails she blazed. Nichols, who originated the role of Lt. Uhura on “Star Trek: The Original Series,” and was also an activist, singer, jewelry maker, author, dancer, popular convention guest, and NASA recruiter, was 89 years old.

Among those paying tribute were her surviving “Star Trek: The Original Series” co-stars William Shatner and George Takei, as well as Rod Roddenberry, Dr. Mae Jemison, LeVar Burton, Kate Mulgrew, Alex Kurtzman, Gates McFadden, Seth MacFarlane, NASA, and President Joe Biden. All of the statements and posts were made on July 31, 2022.

“I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Nichelle,” William Shatner wrote on Twitter. “She was a beautiful woman & played an admirable character that did so much for redefining social issues both here in the US & throughout the world. I will certainly miss her. Sending my love and condolences to her family. Bill”

Nichols Was 89 Years Old & Had Been in Declining Health for Several Years 

“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,” George Takei shared on Twitter. “For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend.

“I am incredibly saddened by the loss of our Nichelle,” Rod Roddenberry, the son of “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry posted on his personal Facebook page. “She defined and personified what Star Trek was, and is, about. Nichelle meant so much to so many. It will be impossible not to feel her absence. On a personal level, I thank Nichelle for what she’s done for me. After my father passed away, Nichelle made sure to include me in ‘Star Trek’-related events, strengthening my bond with his legacy. She loved my father. She loved me. And I loved her. My heart goes out to Nichelle’s family and all those who loved her. Sadly, today Star Trek has lost one of its best. ~ rod”

“@NichelleIsUhura is forever for me the embodiment of grace, daring, intelligence, fun, inspiration, beauty, talent & the future,” former astronaut and longtime Nichols friend Dr. Mae Jemison wrote on Twitter. “Today I am heart-sad at her passing. I consider our dearest friendship a great treasure & privilege in my life.”

“Y’all, @nichelleisuhuru,” LeVar Burton wrote on Twitter, having been her friend for decades, spending time with her on the convention circuit, and, according to the Internet Movie Database, acting with her “The Supernaturals,” a 1986 horror movie. “Heartbroken at the news of her passing, however, I am comforted in the knowledge that she illuminated the way for so of us many with her grace, beauty, talent, intelligence and her commitment to humanity going boldly to the stars! #godess #queen”

Nichols & LeVar Burton Worked Together on the Film ‘The Supernaturals’ More Than a Year Before ‘TNG’ Debuted. 

“Nichelle Nichols was The First,” Kate Mulgrew tweeted. “She was a trailblazer who navigated a very challenging trail with grit, grace, and a gorgeous fire we are not likely to see again. May she Rest In Peace. #NichelleNichols”

“Nichelle was a singular inspiration. She’s the one who really opened my eyes to what Star Trek is and can be. I can’t tell you how many people have told me she’s the reason they became… an astronaut, a scientist, a writer, a linguist, an engineer… it goes on and on,” Alex Kurtzman, the current head of the “Star Trek” television franchise, wrote in a two-part tweet. “We stand in her light and honor her today and every day. Thank you, dear Nichelle, for leading the way.”

“Rest in peace #NichelleNichols,” Gates McFadden tweeted. “#icon for all strong #women who hoped to become #explorers. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for sharing memories of early days on the #spaceship as you blazed a beautiful trail for those of us who came after you.”

“This woman was a pioneer,” Seth MacFarlane tweeted. “Her significance not only to the world of science fiction but to television as a whole cannot be overstated. Not to mention the mountain of charm and magnetism she brought to the screen. Nichelle Nichols will be greatly missed.”

Nichols Helped NASA Recruit Several of Its First Women & Minority Astronauts 

“We celebrate the life of Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek actor, trailblazer, and role model, who symbolized to so many what was possible,” NASA tweeted. “She partnered with us to recruit some of the first women and minority astronauts, and inspired generations to reach for the stars.”

The White House issued the following Statement of President Joe Biden on the Passing of Nichelle Nichols:

“In Nichelle Nichols,” the statement began, “our nation has lost a trailblazer of stage and screen who redefined what is possible for Black Americans and women.

“A daughter of a working-class family from Illinois, she first honed her craft as an actor and singer in Chicago before touring the country and the world performing with the likes of Duke Ellington and giving life to the words of James Baldwin.

“During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she shattered stereotypes to become the first Black woman to act in a major role on a primetime television show with her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek. With a defining dignity and authority, she helped tell a central story that reimagined scientific pursuits and discoveries. And she continued this legacy by going on to work with NASA to empower generations of Americans from every background to reach for the stars and beyond.

“Our nation is forever indebted to inspiring artists like Nichelle Nichols,” Biden’s statement concluded, “who show us a future where unity, dignity, and respect are cornerstones of every society.”

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