(NEXSTAR) – Nichelle Nichols, well known for her role as Nyota Uhura in “Star Trek: The Original Series,” has died at the age of 89, her son announced on Sunday.
“I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years,” Kyle Johnson wrote on Nichols’ Facebook page. “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.”
Nichols was born in Robbins, Illinois, in 1932, according to her IMDb page. Legendary composer Duke Ellington “discovered” Nichols and helped her become a singer and dancer. She later turned to acting, and joined Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek.”
She was one of the first African-American actresses to play a role that was treated the same as characters of another race, IMDb says. Nichols also shared the first on-screen kiss between a Black female and white male with “Star Trek” costar William Shatner.
After her time on “Star Trek,” Nichols went on to become a spokesperson for NASA, where she “helped recruit and inspire a new generation of fearless astronauts,” her website reads.
Her advocacy was impactful for some. Frederick Gregory, now 81, told the Associated Press he once saw an advertisement in which Nichols said “I want you to apply for the NASA program.”
“She was talking to me,” he recounted. The U.S. Air Force pilot would apply and later become the first African American shuttle pilot.
Johnson said services will be for family members and her closest friends.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.