Groundbreaking Actress Nichelle Nichols Dies at 89

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Nichelle Nichols has died at age 89.

The actress is best known for her role as officer Lt. Nyota Uhura from the “Star Trek” franchise, a groundbreaking role for African-American women on television. She was one of the first Black actresses featured in a major TV series.

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Nichols died of heart failure Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Times, which also reported that she had suffered from a stroke in 2015, and struggled with dementia.

Born in Robbins, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, Nichols is the author of an autobiography, “Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories.”

A singer and dancer, she released two albums: “Down to Earth” in 1967 and “Out of This World” in 1991.

Beginning in 2007, she had a recurring role on NBC’s “Heroes.” She then starred in the film “The Torturer” and was later seen singing and dancing in the sci-fi musical “The Cabonauts.” It was in 2016 that she joined the cast of “The Young and the Restless.” She received her first Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series” for the role.

Nichols is remembered for her work with NASA. She took part on a special project, helping the space agency recruit minority and female employees as part of the Women in Motion organization. The program reportedly helped recruit many accomplished figures, including Dr. Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut.

Nichols’ passing comes around the same time as news of Bill Russell’s death Sunday. A prominent name in the world of sports, Russell was the first Black head coach in a major U.S. league and led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA titles. He was 88.

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