The Tragic Death Of Star Trek Alum Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols, best known for her role as Lt. Uhura on the original "Star Trek" series, died at 89 on July 30, Variety reported. Nichols leaves behind one child, son Kyle Johnson, whom she shared with her first husband, the late dancer Foster Johnson, a man that she married and divorced in 1951. She was then married to Duke Mondy from 1968 to 1972. She had not remarried at the time of her death.

Gilbert Bell, Nichols' talent manager, confirmed the news. Nichols had been dealing with health issues in recent years, including a 2015 stroke, per the BBCTMZ reported back in 2018 that she had been diagnosed with "moderate progressive dementia," as well. 

As the news of Nichols' death reached the public, her fans have been looking back at both her life and her legacy. Read on as we do the same.

Nichelle Nichols changed television and real-life space exploration

Most people likely recognize Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura, one of the most iconic characters to ever appear on television. It was also a role that the actor almost abandoned early on. Nichols was ultimately persuaded to stay by none other than Dr. Martin Luther King. "[Dr. King] said, '...Don't you see what ['Star Trek' creator Gene Roddenberry] is doing? This is the future,'" Nichols told "'He has established us as we should be seen ... When we see you, we see ourselves, and we see ourselves as intelligent and beautiful and proud.' " He continued by saying that, despite all of the hardships and horrors the Black community was facing, "'We all know they cannot destroy us because we are there in the 23rd century.'"

Although Nichols went on to inspire countless people during her time on "Star Trek," she also helped to change real-life space exploration by working with NASA. When Nichols was asked by NASA to help find recruits in 1977, she said, per Wired, "I am going to bring you so many qualified women and minority astronaut applicants for this position that if you don't choose one... everybody in the newspapers across the country will know about it." She was certainly correct; over 1,600 women and 1,000 people of color applied within four months, according to USA Today. Among them were Dr. Sally Ride and Guion Stewart Bluford Jr., both notable firsts like Nichols herself.

Nichelle Nichols may be gone, but that legacy lives on forever.