William Shatner Honors ‘Star Trek’ Actress Nichelle Nichols After She Dies At 89
Nichelle Nichols tragically died on Saturday at 89, and her former "Star Trek" costar William Shatner is paying tribute to her.
Nichelle Nichols, who was best known for playing Nyota Uhura on “Star Trek,” tragically passed away on Saturday at the age of 89. Now, her former “Star Trek” costar William Shatner is speaking out to pay tribute to her.
‘I Will Certainly Miss Her’
I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Nichelle. 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
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) July 31, 2022
“I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Nichelle,” Shatner, 91, tweeted on Sunday. “She was a beautiful woman and 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,” he added. “Sending my love and condolences to her family.”
Shatner And Nichols Make History
Daily Mail reported that Shatner and Nichols made history back in 1968 with their interracial on-screen kiss during the season three episode titled “Plato’s Stepchildren.” Robert Thompson, a television and pop culture professor at Syracuse University, told NBC News back in 2018 that the kiss aired with almost no comment at the time.
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“It neither got the backlash one might have expected nor did it open the doors for lots more shows to do this,’ he said, but noting it did ultimately contribute to change,” he said. “The shot heard around the world started the American Revolution. The kiss heard around the world eventually did … but not immediately.”
Find out more about this kiss in the video below.
George Takei, who starred with Shatner and Nichols on “Star Trek,” paid tribute to the late actress as well.
“‘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,” he said. “For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend.”
Nichols’ Death Confirmed By Her Son
CNN reported that Nichols’ death was confirmed by her son, Kyle Johnson, in a statement released on Sunday.
“Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration,” Johnson said. “Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.”
Johnson went on to say that Nichols died of natural causes. Find out more about her death in the video below.
Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1932, Nichols moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s and was quickly cast in the Gene Roddenberry series, “The Lieutenant.” Roddenberry remembered Nichols when he created “Star Trek” a few years later, and she was in Europe when she got the call that she would be on the show.
“(My agent said), ‘They’re doing ‘Star Trek,’ and I didn’t know what a ‘Star Trek’ was,” she told the Television Academy years later.
Nichols Named Her Character
Uhura had not been in the original script, and it was Nichols who came up with the name, as she had been reading a book called “Uhuru,” which means “freedom” in Swahili. She suggested her character take this name, but Roddenberry thought it sounded too harsh.
“I said, ‘Well, why don’t you do an alteration of it, soften the end with an ‘A,’ and it’ll be Uhura?'” she recalled. “He said, ‘That’s it, that’s your name! You named it; it’s yours.'”
Watch Nichols talk more about Uhura in the video below.
Nichols is survived by her son, her friends, and her millions of fans. May she rest in peace.