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Nichelle Nichols, who played Nyota Uhura on Star Trek, dies at age 89

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Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols has passed away on the age of 89.

Her son, Kyle Johnson, announced his mother had ‘succumbed to natural causes’ on Saturday night.  

‘I regret to tell you that an awesome light within the firmament now not shines for us because it has for thus a few years,’ he posted to his mother’s official Facebook page on Sunday. 

‘Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light nonetheless, like the traditional galaxies now being seen for the primary time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration.

Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols has passed away on the age of 89; pictured 2017 

Her son, Kyle Johnson, announced his mother had 'succumbed to natural causes' on Saturday night; Nichols pictured on Star Trek

Her son, Kyle Johnson, announced his mother had ‘succumbed to natural causes’ on Saturday night; Nichols pictured on Star Trek 

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

‘I, and the remaining of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we will get well sufficiently to talk further. Her services shall be for relations and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.’

Kyle signed off on the tribute with the enduring Star Trek slogan, ‘Live long and prosper.’

Nichols became one among the nation’s first Black women to star in a primetime show after being solid in 1966 as Nyota Uhura on Star Trek. 

Nichols became one of the nation's first Black women to star in a primetime show after being cast in 1966 as Nyota Uhura on Star Trek

Nichols became one among the nation’s first Black women to star in a primetime show after being solid in 1966 as Nyota Uhura on Star Trek

Nichols entered showbusiness at age 16 and sang with legendary Duke Ellington before later switching to acting. 

Her break-the-mold tendencies expanded beyond the screen and into space science. She volunteered with NASA from 1977 to 2015 to advertise diversity within the recruiting of girls and minority astronauts. The initiative led to the recruitment of Dr. Sally Ride, the nation’s first women astronaut.

As an actress, Nichols played a key role in inspiring Black children to enter showbusiness, and reportedly earned the praise of Martin Luther King Jr. Following her 70-episode run with the Star Trek series, she continued to star in box office sequels and lesser-known movies.

Nichols’ contribution to the film industry earned her a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1992. She also received a life profession award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Movies in 2016, becoming the primary woman to be bestowed with the dignity.

In 2018, Nichols’ son Kyle Johnson announced that she had been diagnosed with dementia, which spurred a conservatorship battle between him, her former manager Gilbert Bell and her friend Angelique Fawcette.

In response to an August 2021 piece within the Los Angeles Times, Johnson filed for a conservatorship saying that Bell had lived in a guest home in Nichols’ Woodland Hills, California home for nearly 10 years, and in 2017, had transferred ownership of the house into his name as as power of attorney, an arrangement which was subsequently overturned.

Fawcette had also applied to change into the conservator saying that Nichols could be best served spending her final years at her Southern California home, as she had lived in Recent Mexico with Johnson and his wife. In response to property records, the house was sold last 12 months to a construction company for $2.22 million.

A number of people paid tribute to the late actress on Twitter, including her Star Trek costar George Takei, who called her 'trailblazing' and incomparable'

Quite a lot of people paid tribute to the late actress on Twitter, including her Star Trek costar George Takei, who called her ‘trailblazing’ and incomparable’

Rapper Chuck D shared artwork paying homage to the late Star Trek actress

Rapper Chuck D shared artwork paying homage to the late Star Trek actress 

Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams shared a picture she took with the late star, hailing her for 'her kindness and bravery'

Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams shared an image she took with the late star, hailing her for ‘her kindness and bravado’

Hollywood stalwarts such as Lynda Carter, Kate Mulgrew and Jason Alexander posted online memorials to the late actress

Hollywood stalwarts comparable to Lynda Carter, Kate Mulgrew and Jason Alexander posted online memorials to the late actress 

Stars including Mark Hamill and Josh Gad honored both Nichols and late NBA star Bill Russell as the deaths of both were announced Sunday

Stars including Mark Hamill and Josh Gad honored each Nichols and late NBA star Bill Russell because the deaths of each were announced Sunday  

Quite a lot of people paid tribute to the late actress on Twitter, including her Star Trek costar George Takei, who called her ‘trailblazing’ and ‘incomparable.’

Takei, who played the role of Sulu on the series, wrote, ‘I shall have more to say concerning 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 celebrities you now rest amongst, my dearest friend.’

Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams shared an image she took with the late star, hailing her for ‘her kindness and bravado.

‘One in all my most treasured photos – Godspeed to Nichelle Nichols, champion, warrior and tremendous actor,’ Abrams said. ‘May she ceaselessly dwell amongst the celebrities. #RIPNichelle #Uhura.’

Hollywood stalwarts comparable to Lynda Carter, Kate Mulgrew and Jason Alexander posted online memorials to the late actress.

Wonder Woman star Carter said: ‘Many actors change into stars, but few stars can move a nation. Nichelle Nichols showed us the extraordinary power of Black women and paved the way in which for a greater future for all women in media. Thanks, Nichelle. We’ll miss you.’

Star Trek: The Next Generation's Marina Sirtis praised Nichols as a trailblazer for her work on the series

Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Marina Sirtis praised Nichols as a trailblazer for her work on the series

Adam Nimoy, son of Nichols' late costar Leonard Nimoy, shared a shot of the pair together on the set of the sci-fi franchise

Adam Nimoy, son of Nichols’ late costar Leonard Nimoy, shared a shot of the pair together on the set of the sci-fi franchise

NASA also posted a tweet in memory of the late TV star, showing her in one of their uniforms

NASA also posted a tweet in memory of the late TV star, showing her in one among their uniforms

Writer Stephen King  and TV personality Al Roker also credited Nichols for breaking ground on the small screen

Author Stephen King  and TV personality Al Roker also credited Nichols for breaking ground on the small screen  

Mulgrew, who appeared on Star Trek: Voyager, tweeted, ‘Nichelle Nichols was The First. She was a trailblazer who navigated a really difficult trail with grit, grace, and a stunning fire we are usually not more likely to see again.’

Alexander, best known for his role on Seinfeld, said he has a ‘profound’ love for ‘the unique Star Trek’ and called Nichols ‘a ground-breaker,’ ‘an excellent ambassador for her show, her role and science all her life’ and ‘a really lovely person.’

Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Marina Sirtis praised Nichols as a trailblazer for her work on the series.

‘RIP @NichelleIsUhura,’ Sirtis said. ‘You led the way in which and opened the door for the remaining of us who followed in your wake. We shall be ceaselessly grateful. My heart is broken.’

Adam Nimoy, son of Nichols’ late costar Leonard Nimoy, shared a shot of the pair together on the set of the sci-fi franchise.

‘My favorite photo of Dad and Nichelle Nichols on set, he said. ‘The importance of Nichelle’s legacy can’t be over-emphasized. She was much loved and shall be missed.’

Author Stephen King lauded Nichols as a one that ‘broke recent ground,’ while TV personality Al Roker called her role ‘a groundbreaking character, as a Black character on television in authority and shared the primary inter-racial kiss on network TV with Capt. Kirk 52 years ago.’

NASA also posted a tweet in memory of the late TV star, which read, ‘We have fun the lifetime of Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek actor, trailblazer, and role model, who symbolized to so many what was possible. 

‘She partnered with us to recruit a few of the first women and minority astronauts, and inspired generations to succeed in for the celebrities.’

Inside Nichelle Nichols’ heartbreaking conservatorship case

1993: Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols purchases a Woodland Hills, California, property for $100,000

2012: Her former manager Gilbert Bell temporarily moves right into a secondary house on the property 

2017: Nichols inexplicably signs a quitclaim, handing over her property title to Bell. Records show that very same 12 months, Bell signed his own quitclaim, returning the property into Nichols’ hands 

May 2018: Johnson files for a conservatorship, which is ultimately successful  

May 2018:  Nichols’ longtime friend Angelique Fawcette files an objection to Johnson’s petition

August 2018: News outlets report that Nichols was diagnosed with dementia; the precise date of diagnosis is unknown

 2019: Bell sues Johnson, accusing him of attempting to evict him and Nichols with the intention to sell the property 

2020: Johnson files a countersuit against Bell, alleging elder abuse, theft, fraud, and bilking of Nichols’ assets

2021: Property at center of contention sells to reworking and construction company for $2.22 million 

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