From Star Trek To The White House, The World Remembers Nichelle Nichols

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Sunday’s sad news of the passing of Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols resulted in an outpouring of condolences, remembrances, and love from inside and outside the Trek community. There’s so much it isn’t possible to share everything, but we have gathered together some notable memorials.

Star Trek family remembers Nichelle

Many who knew and worked with Nichelle took to social media to offer their thoughts, starting off with her Star Trek co-stars George Takei, Walter Koenig, and William Shatner.

Adam Nimoy, son of the late Leonard Nimoy, also shared a nice photo of Nichelle and Leonard together on the set of Star Trek.

Rod Roddenberry shared how Nichols helped him after the death of his father, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

Nichelle touched the hearts of others who worked in Star Trek throughout the years, and some shared their personal memories of her, such as designer Mike Okuda, TOS movies associate producer (and Star Trek IV’s Punk on the Bus) Kirk Thatcher, and TAS writer Fred Bronson.

A number of Star Trek stars from later generations of Trek who were impacted by her shared their memories, including TNG’s LeVar Burton, DS9 executive producer Ira Steven Behr, Voyager star Robert Picardo, and Enterprise star Linda Park.

Whoopi Goldberg talked to the Hollywood Reporter about how important Nichelle Nichols was to her, leading to her joining Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The latest generation of Star Trek has also honored Nichols, including Star Trek movie producer J.J. Abrams, Star Trek television executive producer Alex Kurtzman, and Zoe Saldana, who played Uhura in the Kelvin universe movies and shared a long, heartfelt message.

 

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A post shared by Zoe Saldana (@zoesaldana)

Actors from across the new Star Trek shows have also expressed their thoughts, including Lower Decks star Tawny Newsome, Discovery’s Wilson Cruz, and Strange New Worlds’ Uhura, Celia Rose Gooding.

And of course, Nichols’ influence goes beyond actors to those who work behind the scenes. There were messages from the Star Trek: Prodigy writers’ room and Picard production designer Dave Blass showing how both shows honored Nichelle and Uhura in their latest seasons.

The world remembers Nichelle

Nichelle Nichols impacted the lives of many beyond the world of Star Trek; here are some of the memories and messages of condolence that flooded social media over the last day. This included a message from the White House and President Joe Biden.

Other political figures who shared their thoughts about Nichelle included Hillary Clinton, Florida congresswoman Val Demmings, and candidate for governor of Georgia (and Discovery guest star) Stacey Abrams.

A few government agencies also joined in. Here are messages from NASA and the Smithsonian.

Nichols had a big impact on NASA. Many from the space community shared their memories, including astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, who was visited by Nichols on the TNG set when she filmed her guest appearance on the show.

And of course there were many more in the world of the arts impacted by the life of Nichelle Nichols who took to social media to share their thoughts. This included writer/producer/actor Seth MacFarlane, Seinfeld (and Star Trek: Voyager guest star and upcoming Prodigy voice actor) Jason Alexander, and Wonder Woman star Linda Carter.

Nichelle in the news

The death of Nichelle Nichols was big news. There were featured segments about her on a number of channels and programs on Sunday from CNN, Entertainment Tonight, and ABC News, among others.

Hollywood event today

As reported yesterday, the family of Nichelle Nichols will be holding a private ceremony for her memorial, and there will be an event in Hollywood today with flowers being placed on Nichelle’s star on the Walk of Fame at 1 PM (PT).

A representative of the family tells TrekMovie that fans can offer their condolences on Nichelle’s official Facebook Page.

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She is one of the greats!

Marina Sirtis also tweeted

Yes, as did others… as noted in the article, this is not a comprehensive list of everyone in and out of Trek who shared something on social. To keep it manageable we picked a selection, including one person per post-TOS show.

But why not add more or add a part 2 please? There no limit.

Now Patrick Stewart has tweeted

She was so wonderful in her role as Lt Uhura. She was a class act all the way. Sweet and kind. I met her once at a con. Her smile was all I needed.

I missed her when she came to my town for a convention. I was penny-pinching University student, and I had met Takei and Doohan, so I thought I could skip it. I’ve regretted that for years.

Nice work, Anthony and Gang; this is a beautiful compilation of the many tributes.

Listening to Nichols’ beautiful rendition of “Beyond Antares,” which seems to sum up her legacy as well as anything could. Given her prodigious talents, you can only wish that Uhura had gotten the chance to spread her wings more often.

Even so, Ms. Gooding, you’ve got some mighty big shoes to fill.

So totally true. Now, she rests beyond Antares. Forever was just a day.

Even over here in Austria, all 3 local news feeds that I follow did honor her – a tech news site, a local newspaper, and the biggest (and state-owned) news outlet of the country. She moved and influenced the world, and her legacy will last for a long time. The latter even more if we continue pushing forward what she pushed and being as graceful to other human beings as she was.

Dear Trekmovie. Thanks for putting together such a wonderful tribute to Nichelle Nichols; a true cultural icon. My love for the Original Series is unbounded and this article brought tears to my eyes. FYI the BBC News channel did a very nice 10 minute segment this evening looking back at her life and the influence she had on so many areas of society.

Obama commented on Facebook about the passing of the great basketball player Bill Russell. Still waiting for him to say something about Nichelle.

Yeah interesting, when Nimoy died he had a big tribute. It really says something about the importance of Star Trek that whenever one of the icons passes, the White House pays tribute

Very surprised and disappointed that he still hasn’t said anything especially since he has admitted being a big fan and posed with Nichelle in a photo not too long ago.

A statement was made through the Obama Foundation, and the President’s very high praise of her when she was still alive and able to appreciate the moment shouldn’t be minimized.

Around 2011 or thereabouts I used some frequent flyer miles for a quick trip to Santa Monica for the Trekmovie.com screening of STIV. Ms. Nichols spoke before the screening. So glad I went!

* * *

In my 9th grade English class, circa 1989, I wrote an essay about Star Trek. In my research (probably reading library books and rewatching my VHS tapes of TOS 20th anniversary specials from 1986) I learned (as a white kid who didnt know what he didnt know) what Ms. Nichols’s presence on the bridge signified. I remember including the multuracial aspect of TOS in my essay, and my teacher, who wasn’t a Trek watcher, discovered that aspect of the show through this little essay. I haven’t thought about that essay in years!

so captain uhura captained a ship after ST6 / the ENT-A was decommissioned? trying to wrap my head around the picard season 2 easter egg

She was a commander by then and therefore on the command track, so I get it. What I don’t necessarily get is why she pursued that path – command didn’t seem like something she particularly wanted, at least as her character was written. When it came to the TOS crew, they all gradually moved up the ranks over the years, but the idea that every character should wind up captaining their own ship doesn’t really make sense to me. I suppose after however long she was a comms officer, she wanted to try something new in her later years

Hailing frequencies are opened forever. Nichelle’s contributions are enormous and cemented. She will be missed by all. May her light shine in the stars above eternally. RIP

Hailing frequencies closed Captain

The role of Uhura is in good hands of Zoe Saldana and Celia Rose Gooding.

I don’t live too far from Hollywood, I might try and see the little memorial people left her star on the Hollywood walk of Fame this weekend. I haven’t been in that area since pre-pandemic. And I visited James Doohan star after he died in 2005.

Where at, if you don’t mind my asking? It was all Highland Park then, but I spent my formative years in the Hermon neighborhood before moving out to Riverside in 1979 (yeah, I’m old)……

I’ll add here my tribute video I made during the all-nighter I pulled to finish it this morning…I was at the NYC Trek meetup group and people have enjoyed it a lot, so please check it out if you want :) She was probably the greatest gift that Star Trek gave to this world, and I’m so glad her light will forever shine through the cosmos

https://youtu.be/lLuYEEHI_Jg

RIP Nichelle Nichols. Her legacy and the tremendous impact she had both on and offscreen may not be quantifiable, but she will be remembered for decades to come.

Btw, the images I remember most of Ms Nichols on TOS is from Balance of Terror when she took over the navigator position from Stiles at the very height of the tense battle with the Romulans. Years later, I also noticed she was in the navigator’s seat in the opening scene of the very first TOS episode aired on NBC – The Man Trap. The social significance of young people seeing a woman of colour (and a Japanese) at the helm of the Enterprise in 1966 is not lost on this legacy Trek fan.

Something learned when my son was a submariner in the Navy, crew frequently cross trains to assume another post in the event of an emergency. It would have been very natural for Uhura to assume the navigation post in the event of a crisis and function professionally. As she understood, or came to, during her time on the show, representation mattered then. And still does now, a lasting legacy her family can take some solace in.