News of her death was shared today (July 31) by Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, the son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and an executive producer of several franchise series.
“It is with great sorrow that we report the passing of the legendary icon Nichelle Nichols,” Roddenberry tweeted. “No words.”
The cause of death was not shared. She had been previously treated for dementia.
The actor was a beloved icon of the science fiction franchise, playing the trailblazing Lt. Uhura in the original series of the show, plus several spin-off movies.
Born Grace Nichols in Illinois in 1932, she initially began her career as a singer and sung alongside Duke Ellington, both in his band and in a ballet she created for one of his compositions.
She later moved into acting, and it was her part in Star Trek that proved to be a defining role. As communications officer aboard the USS Enterprise, she was one of the first black actors in a high-profile, authoritative role on television.
After one year, Nichols initially considered leaving Star Trek to focus on her Broadway career, but was convinced to stay by Martin Luther King Jr.
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