George Takei leads Star Trek tributes to ‘trailblazing’ Nichelle Nichols

George Takei is among the Star Trek actors who have paid tribute to “trailblazing” Nichelle Nichols following her death at the age of 89.

The actress was best known for her role as communications officer Lt Uhura in the original Star Trek television series, which aired from 1966-69.

Her son Kyle Johnson shared the news on her official Facebook page on Sunday that she had died the day previous in Silver City, New Mexico.

Takei, who starred as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu of the fictional star ship USS Enterprise, said his “heart is heavy” following her death.

He shared a photo of them together and wrote: “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.

“For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend.”

Kate Mulgrew, who portrayed Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager, praised Nichols for pathing the way for female actresses.

Sharing a photo of Nichols in her Lt Uhura role to Twitter, Mulgrew wrote: “Nichelle Nichols was The First.

“She was a trailblazer who navigated a very challenging trail with grit, grace, and a gorgeous fire we are not likely to see again. May she Rest In Peace.”

While actress Jeri Ryan, who played Borg drone Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager, said: “RIP to a true legend. Her legacy will live forever” in her tribute.

The Star Trek official Twitter account also wrote: “We’re deeply saddened to report the passing of Nichelle Nichols – a trailblazer, an inspiration, and so much more. She will be deeply missed.”

Nasa also celebrated Nichols’ life by reflecting on her partnership with them which helped recruit some of the first women and minority astronauts.

Sharing a photo of the actress wearing Nasa overalls while sitting behind monitors to Twitter, the agency said: “We celebrate the life of Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek actor, trailblazer, and role model, who symbolized to so many what was possible.

“She partnered with us to recruit some of the first women and minority astronauts, and inspired generations to reach for the stars.”

Wonder Woman star Lynda Carter agreed that she felt Nichols had helped “pave the way for a better future for all women in media”.

In her tribute, she said: “Many actors become stars, but few stars can move a nation.

“Nichelle Nichols showed us the extraordinary power of Black women and paved the way for a better future for all women in media. Thank you, Nichelle. We will miss you.”

Bernice King, who is the daughter of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr, also reflected on the importance of representation on television in her tribute, saying: “Representation matters. Excellence in representation matters even more.

“Thank you, #NichelleNichols. Rest well, ancestor.”

Dave Blass, who was a production designer for Star Trek, added: “Nichelle Nichols changed the world. How many people can say that.

“She was a beacon of representation, who inspired people to reach for the stars. She embodied all that Star Trek stands for. Must watch film on her work with Nasa.”

Announcing the news, Nichols’ son wrote on her official Facebook page: “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.

“Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.”