Date of Birth: December 28, 1933
Best known for her groundbreaking role as Lt. Uhura from the original Star
Trek series and films, Nichols originates from Robbins, Illinois. She
started her professional career as a dancer and singer at age 16 when she
toured with Duke Ellington company.
During her theatre run, she was twice
nominated for the Sarah Siddons Award as Best Actress of the Year for her
performance in The Blacks and Kicks and Company.
In 1959 she made her move into film with an uncredited role in Porgy and
Bess. Six years later she landed her most famous role, Uhura, the
Communications Officer aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise in the popular sci-fi
series Star Trek. Her role broke the stereotypical barrier for the first
time for African American actresses, with previous African American
actresses always depicted as maids or housekeepers.
Her role also featured
the first interracial kiss with co-star William Shatner, and became an
inspiration to African American women such as actress Whoopi Goldberg, and
NASA astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison.
When the Star Trek series ended in 1969, Nichols continued to work in
film and television, landing various roles in such films as Tarzan's Deadly
Silence (1970), Truck Turner (1974), Antony and Cleopatra
(1983), and The Supernaturals (1986). But with the enormous popularity
of the Star Trek series when it came back in syndication, Nichols
returned to the franchise and voiced her character in the animated series, as
well as starring in six Star Trek feature films, Star Trek
specials, video games and making numerous appearances at Star Trek
conventions over the years.
Besides Star Trek, Nichols has spent many years as an inspirational
speaker for the National Space Institute, encouraging minorities and women to
apply for the Astronaut Corps.
From her efforts came applications from over a
thousand women and an equal number of minority males, out of which six
women - one of them Sally Ride (first female in space) - and three black men
were selected as astronauts.
In the late '90s, she returned to the small screen, acting in a number of
telefilms and specials such as Last Angel of History, The Adventures
of Captain Zoom in Outer Space and Moonshot - the Spirit of 69 and
voicing characters in the Batman, Spider-Man, Gargoyles,
and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command animated series.
William Shatner's Star Trek Memories (1995) (V)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
The Supernaturals (1986)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home(1986)
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock(1984)
Antony and Cleopatra (1983)
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture(1979)
Truck Turner (1974)
Tarzan's Deadly Silence (1970)
Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding (1967)
Made in Paris (1966) (uncredited)
Mister Buddwing (1965)
Porgy and Bess (1959) (uncredited)