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By David Ganezer
Observer Staff Writer 

Nichelle Nichols, "Uhura" on Star Trek's Original Series, Dies at 89

She was said to have been a victim of elder abuse in later years. In her youth, she was a ground breaking actress

 

August 3, 2022

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All 4 iconic Star Trek actors portrayed in this iconic 1968 photo are now deceased.

Nichelle Nichols, the actress who played the Iconic Star Trek character Uhura on the original series, has died at 89, says her family. She was said to have been a victim of elder abuse in later years. In her youth, she was a ground breaking actress, who took part in TV's first interracial kiss in 1968. Nichols died of natural causes in Silver City, New Mexico, on July 30, 2022, at the age of 89.

On Star Trek, Uhura is a translator and communications officer who specializes in linguistics, cryptography, and philology. She was an important part of the original series' multicultural crew and one of the first black characters to be portrayed in a non-menial role on an American television series.

Born Grace Dell Nichols in 1932, she was an American actress, singer and dancer best known for her portrayal of Nyota Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series, and its film sequels. Nichols' portrayal of Uhura was ground-breaking for African American actresses on American television. From 1977 until 2015, Nichols volunteered her time to promote NASA's programs, and to recruit diverse astronauts, including women and ethnic minorities.

In June 2015, Nichols suffered a mild stroke at her Los Angeles home and was admitted to a Los Angeles-area hospital. A magnetic resonance imaging scan revealed a small stroke had occurred, and she began inpatient therapy. In early 2018, Nichols was diagnosed with dementia, and subsequently announced her retirement from convention appearances.

Following a legal dispute over the actions of her manager-turned-caretaker Gilbert Bell, her son Kyle Johnson filed for conservatorship in 2018. Before a court granted his petition in January 2019, Nichols' friend Angelique Fawcette, who had already expressed concern in 2017 over Bell's control of access to her, pressed for visitation rights, including by opposing Johnson's petition. That dispute and a 2019 court case by Bell over being evicted from the guesthouse on Nichols' property were both ongoing as of August 2021.

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Nichelle Nichols, "Uhura" on Star Trek's Original Series, Dies at 89

Her instagram page says: Help Legendary Nichelle Nichols Recover from Tragic Elder Abuse Perpetrated by Gilbert Bell. Please join the Nichols Family and Me in supporting Nichelle. -Marian Nichols Smothers, Sister of Nichelle Nichols. Nichelle Nichols, the iconic African American actress, performer and space activistis best known and loved as ‘Lt. Uhura’ on the original Star Trek television series. As the first black woman in a non-traditional role on TV, her beauty, intelligence, and moxie inspired millions of women, especially women of color, in their aspirations, education, and vision for the future.

Nyota Uhura (/niˈoʊtə ʊˈhʊrə/) is a fictional character in the Star Trek franchise. In the original TV series, the character was portrayed by Nichelle Nichols who later reprised the role for the first six Star Trek feature films. A younger Uhura is portrayed by Celia Rose Gooding in the 2022 prequel series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. An alternate timeline version of Uhura has been portrayed by actress Zoe Saldaña in the feature films Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), and Star Trek Beyond (2016).

 

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