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Nichelle Nichols, Lt Uhura on ‘Star Trek,’ dies at 89

17 Comments
By LINDSEY BAHR

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Lieutenant Uhura was a female role model for many young girls at a time when we had few. She was professional, smart, beautiful and able to think and operate as an important part of the team. It was also rather cool that a woman of color was portrayed in such a role, very uncommon for the era. It’s fascinating and heartwarming to read that she was such an inspiration for so many.

22 ( +22 / -0 )

Watched a bunch of the original series when growing up on the 70's, Roddenberry created cast that seemed pretty every-day to this youngster (- Vulcan).

Took me until I was an adult and read that it was "trail blazing" to know that anything special was being depicted.

Love that she was an inspiration to Mae Jemison. RIP

16 ( +16 / -0 )

She certainly Lived Long and Prospered. She will be sorely missed.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

RIP

8 ( +8 / -0 )

@The Avenger

+1

Born in 1970, I have a lot of memories of Star Trek: TOS due to the (endless) re-runs on German TV (German Trekkies could give their US counterparts a run for their money!).

The show was trailblazing in so many ways: the world was pure fiction (i.e. "fake") but the crew dealt with realpolitik in their own TV-world: dmz, conflict, diplomacy, de-escalation, not-so-cozy-alliances, de- / colonization, sometimes the humans were on top of the galactic food-chain, sometimes much lower, trying to solve problems mostly through brains over brawn (the action or SFX were just, well, the icing on the cake).

The crew came from so many horizons: a Russian and a Chinese on the bridge (in the middle of the Cold War, none the less), as a kid I also kind of saw Spock as an SF-version of an alien "Japanese" for some reason (unsure as to why?), then Uhura, of course. Heck, they even had a scotsman as an engineer! When McDoohan passed away, it was nice to read that his character seemed to have inspired so many to get into science and / or engineering as well.

The crew worked as a team and was made of professionals (albeit sometimes bending the rules in the book as the book could not cover all the situations they would encounter).

A lot of side-details: 3D-chess, Zulu into fencing, etc. A lot went into the world-building of the show.

I remember the infamous "kiss"-scene as a kid, somewhere in the 70s and how I went: Whoa! Dudes! This okay on TV???? (Strangely enough, I never had any such reaction when the girl was green, blue or pink with yellow dots-colored.) This, despite living in a post-student unrest society with hippies and peace and love everywhere. Ultimately, it was not whether the kiss was "okay" or "not", it was just overdue, way overdue.

RIP

11 ( +11 / -0 )

She will be remembered and missed. Her light has moved on to another galaxy.

Safe journey Nichelle.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

blueToday  10:36 am JST

George Takei, an ethnic Japanese-American potrayed Hideiki Sulu (not 'Zulu') - a Japanese, not Chinese. Nonetheless, he pioneered tremendously for his race in movies and TV as well. He would NOT take any role that degraded or poked fun or promoted stereotypes at his race/color. IOW, none of that buffoonish 'ching-chong'/'Long Duck Dong' crap that I remember seeing on so many TV shows as a kid.

And Lt. Uhura was the same pioneer. A black woman from Kenya, east Africa as a starship bridge officer was a huge step for race and gender in terms of respectability. She had class. And those movies based on the original series highlighted it even more.

YeahRightToday  09:36 am JST

She certainly Lived Long and Prospered. She will be sorely missed.

It's good that she inspired Mae Jenson and others. She inspired females of all types really, not just black. This sister really did it for herself as Aretha Franklin and the Eurythmics once said. Nichelle was a groundbreaker.

And as an afterthought, the current US VP is not only the first female VP but she is part black herself.

Nichelle is now into the spiritual realm, beyond the stars. Her legacy is 4-ever. May she RIP.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

One rememberable Uhura moment I just recalled was on the movie 'Star Trek III' where this young naive cadet was bellyaching about being bored at his duty station, wanting 'excitement'. And the now Cmdr. Uhura says, 'Be careful about what you wish for because you just might get it'. And then the drama/adventure unfolds!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

First interracial kiss on US TV with William Shatner in the episode Plato's Stepchildren. Excellent episode as well!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Also a friend of Maxwell was Patron to Maxwell ocean charity

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

RIP. Good thing MLK convinced her to stay on Star Trek

At one time, our univ student email server was named after Uhura - so all the undergrads had @uhura...... in their email addresses, lol

During the show’s third season, Nichols’ character and Shatner’s Capt James Kirk shared what was described as the first interracial kiss to be broadcast on a U.S. television series. In the episode, “Plato’s Stepchildren,” their characters, who always maintained a platonic relationship, were forced into the kiss by aliens who were controlling their actions.

Worried about reaction from Southern television stations, showrunners wanted to film a second take of the scene where the kiss happened off-screen. But Nichols said in her book, “Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories,” that she and Shatner deliberately flubbed lines to force the original take to be used.

Kiss "force-controlled by aliens" - so there's an excuse "out" for everyone involved

Yet the execs still thought it'd be an issue in the US South. Good thing the actors intentionally sabotaged their plans

5 ( +6 / -1 )

*George Takei, an ethnic Japanese-American potrayed Hideiki Sulu (not 'Zulu') - a Japanese, not Chinese.*

Pushes up nerd glasses...that would be Hikaru Sulu.

She often recalled how Martin Luther King Jr was a fan of the show and praised her role. She met him at a civil rights gathering in 1967, at a time when she had decided not to return for the show’s second season.

She was a light for the future.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Count me in w/ OnTheTrail as being part of a generation that, if not perfect in race relations, was certainly more open-minded BECAUSE of Trek.

We lost 2 phenomenal Black Americans today. Sad to see them go, but glad to have had them as examples. That they both lived to a ripe old age is the icing on the cake.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

> NemoToday 06:00 pm JST

Count me in w/ OnTheTrail as being part of a generation that, if not perfect in race relations, was certainly more open-minded BECAUSE of Trek.

> We lost 2 phenomenal Black Americans today. Sad to see them go, but glad to have had them as examples. That they both lived to a ripe old age is the icing on the cake.

Yes, RIP to Michelle Nichols and Bill Russell. They were two consummate pros and an inspiration to many.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Now I know, I'm getting Old.... RIP Uhura.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I met her at a ST convention back in the 70's. She was gorgeous in person, more so than on TV. I wish I still had the photo.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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