Actor Nichelle Nichols, who essayed the role of officer Lieutenant Uhura in the 1960s' show Star Trek and subsequent movies died at age 89, her family has confirmed. Nichelle "succumbed to natural causes and passed away" on Saturday night, her son, Kyle Johnson, posted on Facebook.
Sharing the news on Facebook from her account, Kyle wrote, "Friends, Fans, Colleagues, World. 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. Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all."
He added, "I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected. Live Long and Prosper, Kyle Johnson."
The original Star Trek series, tracking the adventures of the crew of the starship USS Enterprise in the 23rd century, ran for only three seasons on the NBC network from 1966 to 1969. But it became hugely popular in syndication in the 1970s, inspiring first an animated series that reunited the cast from 1973 to 1975 and then a succession of feature films and shows. Nichelle appeared in six Star Trek films ending with Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in 1991.
Like other Star Trek cast members, she had a hard time finding work due to typecasting after the original series ended. It was during this time when she played a foul-mouthed madam in the film Truck Turner (1974) starring Isaac Hayes. She was a recurring character on the television show Heroes in 2007.