Nichelle Nichols: George Takei and Lynda Carter lead tributes to ‘trailblazing’ Star Trek actor

Nichelle Nichols was remembered as a ‘beacon of inspiration’ for Black women on TV (PA)

George Takei has led the tributes to “trailblazing” Star Trek actor Nichelle Nichols following her death on Saturday (30 July). She was 89.

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

Nichols’ son Kyle Johnson confirmed her death in a statement on Instagram on Sunday (31 July).

“Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away,” he wrote. “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,” added Johnson.

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 on Twitter: “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,” he continued.

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.”

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

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’s life by reflecting on her partnership with them which helped recruit some of the first women and minority astronauts to the American space agency.

Sharing a photo of the actor 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 symbolised 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.”

“She made room for so many of us. She was the reminder that not only can we reach the stars, but our influence is essential to their survival. Forget shaking the table, she built it.” Celia Rose Gooding, who plays Uhura on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, wrote on Twitter.

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.”

“Nichelle Nichols told us that we belonged in outer space. We are limitless. The heavens have gained an Uhura today,” Euphoria star Colman Domingo wrote on Twitter.

Seinfeld star Jason Alexander paid tribute to Nichols on Twitter, writing: “My love for the original Star Trek is profound. Nichelle Nichols was a ground-breaker and a glorious ambassador for her show, her role and science all her life. And a truly lovely person. May she have a wonderful adventure to the final frontier.”