George Takei leads tributes to ‘groundbreaking’ Star Trek actress

George Takei leads tributes to ‘groundbreaking’ Star Trek actress

Actress Nichelle Nichols (Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP) (AP)

Actress Nichelle Nichols (Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP) (AP)

George Takei is among the Star Trek actors who paid tribute to the “groundbreaking” Nichelle Nichols after her death at the age of 89.

The actress is best known for her role as communications officer Lt. Uhura known in the original Star Trek television series which aired from 1966 to 1969.

Her son Kyle Johnson said Sunday on her official Facebook page that she died the day before in Silver City, New Mexico.

Takei, who appeared as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu on the fictional starship USS Enterprise, said his “heart was heavy” after her death.

Sharing a photo of them together, he wrote, “I will have more to say about the groundbreaking, incomparable Nichelle Nichols, who will bridge the bridge with us as Lt. Uhura of the USS Enterprise and died today at the age of 89.

“For today my heart is heavy, my eyes shine like the stars under which you now rest, my dearest friend.”

Kate Mulgrew, who portrayed Captain Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager, credited Nichols for paving the way for female actresses.

Mulgrew shared a photo of Nichols in her role as Lt. Uhura on Twitter and wrote: “Nichelle Nichols was first.

“She was a trailblazer, navigating a very challenging path with courage, grace and a beautiful fire that we probably won’t see again. May she rest in peace.”

While actress Jeri Ryan, who played the Borg drone Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager, said: “RIP to a true legend. Her legacy will live forever,” in her tribute.

The official Star Trek Twitter account also wrote: “We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Nichelle Nichols – a pioneer, an inspiration and so much more. She will be greatly missed.”

Nasa also celebrated Nichols’ life by reflecting on her partnership with them, which helped recruit some of the first minority women and astronauts.

Sharing a photo of the actress wearing a Nasa jumpsuit while sitting behind monitors, the agency tweeted: “Celebrating the life of Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek actress, trailblazer and role model who to so many symbolized what was possible.

“She partnered with us to recruit some of the first minority women and astronauts and inspired generations to reach for the stars.”

Wonder Woman star Lynda Carter agreed that she felt Nichols helped “pave the way for a brighter future for all women in media.”

In her tribute, she said: “Many actors become stars, but few stars can move a nation.

“Nichelle Nichols showed us the extraordinary power of black women and paved the way for a brighter future for all women in media. Thank you, Nichelle. We will miss you.”

Bernice King, daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., also reflected on the importance of representation on television in her tribute, saying, “Representation matters. Excellent representation counts even more.

“Thank you, #NichelleNichols. Farewell, ancestors.”

Added Dave Blass, who was production designer on Star Trek, “Nichelle Nichols changed the world. How many people can say that.

“She was a beacon of representation that inspired people to reach for the stars. She embodied everything Star Trek stands for. Be sure to watch the film about her work with Nasa.”

Announcing the news, Nichols’ son wrote on her official Facebook page: “Last night my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and died.

“However, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, their light will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from and be inspired by.

“Her life was a life well lived and as such a role model for all of us.”

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