Former The Young and the Restless guest star Nichelle Nichols died July 30 at age 89 in Silver City, New Mexico, Variety reports. The legendary actress, renowned for her role as Star Trek's Lieutenant Uhura, appeared on four episodes of the CBS soap in 2016, playing Lucinda Winters, the mother of Neil Winters (Kristoff St. John). Gilbert Bell, her business partner/talent manager, confirmed the star's passing.
Born Grace Nichols in Robbins, Illinois, in December 28, 1932, the actress performed with Duke Ellington at a young age. She studied acting across the country and racked up theater credits; her breakout role came in the 1961 musical Kicks and Co.
Nichols made history by sharing one of TV's first interracial kisses (with William Shatner on Star Trek). She reprised the role of Uhura on Star Trek: the Animated Series and the initial six Star Trek films. Co-star George Takei shared:
Nichols teamed up with NASA to promote Black and female involvement in astronaut training. The first Black female astronaut on the Space Shuttle, Dr. Mae Jamison, said that Star Trek proved an inspiration to her in her career pursuits. NASA paid homage on Twitter:
A continued supporter of NASA, Nichols also appeared in select TV projects, ranging from the animated (Futurama) and dramatic (Heroes), in succeeding decades. For her work on Y&R, she received a 2017 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Special Guest Performer in a Drama Series. She even popped up in movies like The Supernaturals and Are We There Yet?.
Nichols is survived by son Kyle Johnson.