Nichelle Nichols, ‘Star Trek’ & ‘The Young and the Restless’ Actress, Dead at 89

by Joe Rutland

Nichelle Nichols, a trailblazing actress known for playing Lt. Uhura on Star Trek, has died at 89 years old. It was announced on Sunday by her family. Nichols also starred in the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless. Deadline reported that Nichols died Saturday night in Silver City, N.M.

Gilbert Bell, her talent manager and business partner of 15 years, confirmed the actress’ death. Nichols’ role in the TV show and movie franchise was integral to the show’s structure. The actress would, in fact, share one of television history’s first interracial kisses with William Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk.

George Takei Fondly Pays Tribute to Nichelle Nichols

Upon hearing the news of Nichols’ death, fellow Star Trek cast member George Takei shared his thoughts on Twitter. Takei played Lt. Sulu on the TV show as well as in movies, too.

Meanwhile, Nichols’ family shared a tender statement about her on Instagram.

In part, her son, Kyle Johnson writes, “I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years. 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.” Funeral arrangements are still pending at this time.

She would provide the voice for Lt. Uhura on Star Trek: The Animated Series. Nichols would appear in the first six Star Trek films. But she would become a lieutenant commander in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Then, she gets bumped up to being a full commander in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan which also starred Ricardo Montalban as Khan. One thing about Nichols’ work is that she would become a huge fan favorite. The actress was known to make appearances at different fan fests over the years, happily talking about Uhura. Nichols’ Uhura also would become a powerful symbol for African Americans.

Nichols Played Lucinda On Soap Opera

As for her turn on The Young and the Restless, it came back in 2016. She played Lucinda, the mother of Neil Winters, played by Kristoff St. John. Her time on there would be quite emotional with Lucinda dying. But her work was duly noted with a Daytime Emmy nomination in 2017.

Back among the stars, NASA would employ her as a spokesperson. She was born Grace Nichols in Robbins, Ill. on Dec. 28, 1932. Nichols would sing with legendary musician Duke Ellington in a ballet she created for one of his compositions. She would then sing with his band, too. Nichols is survived by her son.