It’s the 28th of December in the United States, which means it’s the First Lady of Science Fiction’s 84th Birthday.
Nichelle Nichols was born in 1932 in Illinois in the United States of America. Before playing Nyota Uhura in Gene Roddenberry’s ground-breaking Star Trek television series in the 60s, Nichelle had already built a considerable career as a singer and dancer, as well as an actor.
Prior to being cast as the Communications Chief of the USS Enterprise, Nichelle toured the United States, Canada and Europe as a singer with the Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton bands. But, we all know that. We all also know how she was in Gene Roddenberry’s The Lieutenant before jumping into outer space. Volumes have been written about this remarkable woman, and at least one of them by her – via her best-selling autobiography “Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories” in 1995.
Please join us in wishing Nichelle Nichols a very happy birthday.
Nichelle turned what could have been an unremarkable role into a permanent part of pop-culture history. Over the years, Uhura has become iconic.
Nichelle’s trade mark good humour and refusal to give way to negativity struck a cord in many of us as we joined her in focusing on creating Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future. Probably more than any other Trek actor except for Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, Nichelle has kept Gene’s vision at the forefront of everything she does. As she’s commented in the past, Gene, like all of us, might have been a flawed human being, but his aspirations for humanity were beautiful.
To close out this article, here are five wonderful Uhura moments to remind of us of just how awesome this woman is and why she came to mean so much to so many of us over the years, and why she still does and always will:
This scene was cut out of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but was restored to the Directors Edition. In it, one of the new crewmen of the Enterprise questions Kirk’s return to the Captain’s chair.
Uhura firmly puts that officer in his place, telling him their chances of survival just increased considerably. In Star Trek, no one can give the “burn” like Uhura!
A lot of Star Trek fans will cringe at this one, but the fan dance from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, is one of the best things about that film.
No one moves like Nichelle.
Uhura figures out a way to stop General Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country… “well, the things gotta have a tail pipe!”
That kiss. Kirk and Uhura locked lips in the original series, and people are still talking about it today!
This is probably debatable for some people, but for me, it’s one of my all time favourite Uhura moments. ‘Mr Adventure’ is remarking about how Uhura’s career is winding down, and she pulls a weapon on him and locks him in a closet before helping Kirk, Scotty, McCoy, Sulu and Chekov steal the Enterprise.
Like I said, no one gives the “burn” like Uhura.
Thank you, Nichelle, for being a mighty powerful woman and a mighty worthy inspiration.
Here’s to you, beautiful lady. May you have many more birthdays.
If you want to send some love to Nichelle and you’re on Twitter, follow her at @NichelleNichols.