Nichelle Nichols Died Age of “89” —Quora
Nichelle Nichols Died –Age of “89” —Quora
Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed the communications officer on the Starship Enterprise in “Star Trek” and memorably engaged in what was regarded to be television’s first interracial kiss, has died.
Nichols died as a result of heart failure. A member of the family managing media questions for Nichols’ son confirmed Sunday to the Los Angeles Times that his father died Saturday night at a hospital in Silver City, New Mexico. She was 89 years old.
Nichols had a stroke at her Woodland Hills home in 2015 and was suffering from dementia. She had been embroiled in a conservatorship struggle for years, pitting her son, Kyle Johnson, against a former manager and a close friend. Johnson relocated Nichols to New Mexico last year, claiming the need to protect his mother from what he described as exploitation by the manager and others.
Nichols rose to prominence as the elegant, poised, and very capable Lt. Uhura in three seasons of “Star Trek” on television and six “Star Trek” films. She was a Black American cast as a master of 23rd century interplanetary technology, a character that bucked stereotypes of Black women as domestics or entertainers. When she considered quitting the programme after its first season to pursue a Broadway production, she was swayed by none other than the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
According to Nichols’ 2010 remembrance on the Archive of American Television, when they met at an NAACP fundraiser event in Beverly Hills, King was shocked when she mentioned resigning.
“For the first time, the world sees us as we should be viewed,” King informed her. “Gene Roddenberry [the inventor of ‘Star Trek’] has opened a way.” That door may be closed if you leave. Your job is neither Black nor female; he may fill it with anyone, including an extraterrestrial.”
“I could say nothing,” she recalled. “I just stood there, realizing that every word he said was the truth.”
Years later, Nichols told CNN, “He told me that that was the only show that he and his wife, Coretta, would allow their tiny children to stay up and watch.” More importantly, the Nobel laureate informed Nichols that she was creating significant new ground for Black Americans and that she needed to keep doing so.
“For the first time,” King said, “the world sees us as we deserve to be viewed.” This is why we are marching.”
- “Besides,” added King, a “Star Trek” devotee, “you’re the fourth in charge – you’re the chief communications officer.”
- She then informed Roddenberry that she had changed her mind.
- “He pulled out my resignation letter, which had been ripped into a hundred pieces, and handed it to me.” ‘Thank you, Gene,’ I said.
- Nichols grew to love her part and continued to perform at “Star Trek” events throughout her life. She became an ardent supporter of the United States space programme and spearheaded a successful campaign to attract women and minorities into astronaut training.
- “My heart is heavy, my eyes shine like the stars you now rest amid, my beloved friend,” her “Star Trek” co-star George Takei posted on Twitter on Sunday, describing Nichols as an outstanding trailblazer.
- Uhura inspired a generation of Black women by being elegant, aggressive, and capable of quickly wiring up a subspace bypass circuit. When Whoopi Goldberg first saw Nichols when she was around 9, she ran through the house saying, “Everybody, hurry, hurry – there’s a Black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!”
- After only three seasons, “Star Trek” was canceled in 1969. In its afterlife, it became far more popular, sparking additional TV series and more than a dozen feature films.
Nichols featured in 66 episodes of the first “Star Trek” series. She was a regular presence at “Star Trek” events, where fans queried her about one plot detail in particular: the protracted clinch between Uhura and Captain James Kirk, generally regarded as television’s first interracial kiss.
“The first thing people want to talk about is the first interracial kiss and what it did for them”. — “Nichelle Nichols”
“The first thing people want to speak about is the first interracial kiss and what that meant for them,” she told the Archive of American Television in 2010. “And they saw the world differently – they saw people differently.”
The episode “Plato’s Stepchildren,” which first broadcast on November 22, 1968, depicted a race of aliens that venerated the terrestrial philosopher Plato. They wanted to watch human affection as part of their study of mankind, so they telekinetically compelled Uhura and Kirk, played by William Shatner, to kiss.
It was a potentially explosive situation by today’s standards. Only a year before, the Supreme Court overturned state restrictions on interracial marriage. “Star Trek” executives were so concerned about public response that they attempted to record two versions of the moment, one with the kiss and one with merely an embrace, for use on Southern stations.
The kiss-free method was stymied, however, when Nichols and Shatner purposefully flubbed their lines in take after take.
In her book, “Beyond Uhura,” Nichols recalls Shatner purposefully hamming it up: “Bill shook me and growled menacingly in his finest ham-fisted Kirkian staccato delivery, ‘I! WON’T! KISS! YOU! I! WON’T! KISS! YOU! I! WON’T! KISS! YOU! I! WON’T! KISS! YOU! I It was extremely horrible, and we were both hysterical and overjoyed.”
Finally, a potentially decent take was captured on film, and everyone retired for the evening. Producers didn’t notice Shatner had crossed his eyes as the camera recorded his face during the non-kiss until the next day. Executives abandoned their Southern approach at that moment.
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