Nichelle Nichols’ mark on pop culture and the hearts of the people she touched is out of this world.
Nichols, who played “Star Trek” communications officer Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in the 1960s TV show and shared one of television’s first interracial kisses with William Shatner, died of natural causes July 30. She was 89.
Her son, Kyle Johnson, announced her death in a statement posted on her Facebook page. “I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years,” Johnson wrote. Family friend Sky Conway confirmed that Nichols died Saturday evening in Silver City, New Mexico.
“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 added.
Nichelle Nichols:‘Star Trek’ icon who played Lieutenant Uhura dies at 89
Fellow “Star Trek” co-stars, including Shatner, and more celebrities have shared their appreciation of Nichols on social media.
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“I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Nichelle,” wrote Shatner on Twitter. “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.”
Nichols played Uhura on the original “Star Trek” TV series from 1966 to 1969 and reprized her role in six “Star Trek” films, starting with 1979’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”
She was widely praised for breaking down barriers in an era when Black women were rarely seen in prominent TV roles.
Actor George Takei, who co-starred with Nichols on “Star Trek” as Sulu, also took to Twitter to pay tribute to his “dearest friend.”
“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,” Takei tweeted. “For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among.”
Actress Celia Rose Gooding, who plays Uhura on “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” wrote that Nichols “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,” Gooding continued. “Forget shaking the table, she built it.”
“Nichelle Nichols was The First. She was a trailblazer who navigated a very challenging trail with grit, grace, and a gorgeous fire we are unlikely to see again,” wrote “Star Trek: Voyager” actor Kate Mulgrewon Twitter. “May she Rest In Peace.”
Actor Wilson Cruz, who appeared on “Star Trek: Discovery,” said Nichols “modeled” the importance of inclusive media representation.
“With her very presence & her grace she shone a light on who we as people of color are & inspired us to reach for our potential,” Cruz tweeted. “Rest well glittering diamond in the sky.”
“Wonder Woman” star Lynda Carter said Nichols “showed us the extraordinary power of Black women and paved the way for a better future for all women in media.”
“Many actors become stars, but few stars can move a nation,” wrote Carter on Twitter. “Thank you, Nichelle. We will miss you.”
Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams shared a photo of herself with Nichols on Twitter, calling Nichols a “champion, warrior and tremendous actor.”
“One of my most treasured photos,” Abrams wrote. “Her kindness and bravery lit the path for many. May she forever dwell among the stars.”
“Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander wished Nichols “a wonderful adventure to the final frontier.”
“My love for the original Star Trek is profound,” Alexander tweeted. “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.”
Director Adam Nimoy, whose father Leonard Nimoy starred alongside Nichols on “Star Trek,” shared a throwback photo of his father and Nichols on set.
“The importance of Nichelle’s legacy cannot be over-emphasized,” wrote Nimoy on Twitter. “She was much loved and will be missed.”
“Nichelle Nichols left behind such a beautiful legacy of what it really means to use the platform you have to make the world a better place,” Comedian Ashley Nicole Black tweeted. “I think of her example often and I hope others will too. Rest well, Lt.”
“Her light will keep shining. Brighter & stronger than ever,” wrote “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” actor Melissa Navia on Twitter. “Can’t wait for the celebration of her life that is to come and all the stories that those who knew her best will share.”
“I was lucky enough to have met Nichelle Nichols a few times,” wrote “X-Men” writer David Hayter. “The last time I saw her, I said ‘Ms. Nichols, you look so beautiful today.’ She smiled, and said, ‘Well, how did you expect me to look?’ “
Contributing: Kim Willis