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‘Star Trek’ icon, 89, played Lieutenant Uhura

Trailblazer Nichelle Nichols, who played “Star Trek” communications officer Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in the 1960s TV show and shared one of television’s first interracial kisses with William Shatner, has died at 89.

Her son, Kyle Johnson, announced her death in a statement posted on her Facebook page. Her family friend Sky Conway confirmed to USA TODAY that Nichols died Saturday evening in Silver City, New Mexico, calling her “truly transformational” and “an amazing person.”

“I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years,” Johnson wrote on Facebook. “Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light from her 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.

“Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.”

Nichols played Uhura on the original “Star Trek” TV series from 1966 to 1969 and reprized her role in six “Star Trek” films, starting with 1979’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” She was widely praised for breaking down barriers in an era when Black women were rarely seen in prominent TV roles.

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“YO am so sorry to hear about the passing of Nichelle,” wrote Shatner on Twitter, who starred alongside Nichols in the original TV series. “She was a beautiful woman & played an admirable character that did so much for redefining social issues both here in the US & throughout the world.”

Shatner said he “will certainly miss her” and sent his “love and condolences to her family.”

“I shall have more to say about the trailblazing, incomparable Nichelle Nichols, who shared the bridge with us as Lt. Uhura of the USS Enterprise,” her co-star George Takei wrote on Twitter. “For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest amongmy dearest friend.”

Actor Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Nyota Uhura on ''Star Trek,'' waves as she arrives at the

Nichols, born Grace Dell Nichols on Dec. 28, 1932, in Robbins, Illinois, started her career as a dancer and singer, and she wanted to be the first Black ballerina when she was younger. She originally danced ballet during performances by Duke Ellington and his band from him, and got her break from her when Ellington asked her to sing one night when the lead performer became sick.

Once in Hollywood, she made her film debut in 1959’s “Porgy and Bess,” the first of a string of film and TV roles that led up to “Star Trek.”

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