Nichelle Nichols was born in 1932 in the suburbs of Chicago. Nichols was first discovered by Hugh Hefner during a play she performed in Kicks and Co. Nichols would spend her early life singing, acting, and modeling from New York to LA. Nichols landed her groundbreaking roll as lieutenant Uhura on the TV series Star Trek. Uncommon for the times Nichols was a black woman with a major roll in a major TV series. Although Nichols almost left the show to go back to stage acting no other then Dr. Martin Luther King Jr helped her see the bigger picture of what she meant to the show and to the world.
Nichols stayed and not only was she a huge part of the show but in many of the blockbuster movies through the eighties and nineties. Her kiss to Captain Kirk is known as the first interracial kiss on US television. Although she is best known for Star Trek, Nichols did a number of movies like “Made in Paris”, Snow Dogs, and “Are We There Yet”. She also did tv and tv voiceovers in series such as The Simpsons, Batman animated series, and Futurama.
Nichols was not just an actress in space though she helped NASA recruit minorities for the space program. The program was a successful and attracted first woman astronaut Sally Ride and first African American male Guion Bluford. Nichols spent many years working with NASA and she got to enjoy some of the simulators and high altitude rides. The first Star Trek movie I watched was “ The Wrath of Khan”. I was 9 or 10 and watched it on TV, we didn’t get to the movies much back then.
Even at 50 years old Nichols looked like she was 30. She was a real knock out and had a wonderful life. She overcame so much in our history and helped change our world into a much better place. RIP Nichelle Nichols.