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Nichelle Nichols

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Information about Nichelle Nichols

Profile image of Nichelle Nichols

Profession

Category:
EntertainmentMakers
Occupation(s):
Film Actress
Television Actress

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
All Food
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
12/28/1932
Birth Location:
Robbins, Illinois

Profession

Category:
EntertainmentMakers
Occupation(s):
Film Actress
Television Actress

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
All Food
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
12/28/1932
Birth Location:
Robbins
See how Nichelle Nichols is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Film and television actress Nichelle Nichols was born on December 28, 1932 in Robbins, Illinois near Chicago. Her father, Samuel Earl Nichols, was a factory worker who also served as the mayor of Robbins and as its chief magistrate. Her mother, Lishia Mae (Parks) Nichols, was a homemaker. As a child, Nichols’ family moved to Chicago where she studied dance at the Chicago Ballet.

During the late 1940s, Nichols was discovered by jazz legend Duke Ellington and toured with both Ellington and Lionel Hampton as a lead singer and dancer. Her acting career began in the film Porgy and Bess (1959); and her first television role was on “The Lieutenant” (1964). Nichols went on to record two albums, including “Down to Earth” (1968), and “Out of This World” (1991).

In 1966, Nichols was cast as Lieutenant Commander Uhura in Star Trek, which marked one of the first times that an African American actress was portrayed a non-stereotypical role on television. Nichols went on to appear as Uhura numerous times in the Star Trek movie and television series, including Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), , Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Paramount (1989), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). She was also cast as Ruana in two Tarzan films: Tarzan’s Jungle Rebellion (1967) and Tarzan’s Deadly Silence (1970).

In 1975, Nichols established Women in Motion, Inc., a company that produced educational materials using music as a teaching tool and was expanded to become an astronaut recruitment tool after Nichols won a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This resulted in thousands of women and minorities applying to NASA’s space program, such as Sally Ride, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, and Ellison Onizuka. In addition to her autobiography Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories (1994), Nichols is co-author of Saturn’s Child (1995), and a contributor to publications of the National Space Institute.

In October of 1984, Nichols was presented with NASA’s Public Service Award for her many efforts towards integrating the U.S. space program. She was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1992, and became the first African American actress to place her handprints in front of Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, along with the rest of the Star Trek cast. Nichols was elected as an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; and, on June 8, 2010, she received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Los Angeles Mission College.

Nichelle Nichols was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 17, 2013.

See how Nichelle Nichols is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Nichelle Nichols' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her home in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her mother's education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols talks about how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Nichelle Nichols describes her parents' relationship
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Nichelle Nichols lists her siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her sisters' acting skills
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols remembers her neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols remembers her neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols recalls Betsy Ross Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols describes her experiences at Betsy Ross Elementary School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her early appreciation for the arts
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols remembers her scholarship to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her early dance training
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Nichelle Nichols recalls developing an interest in tap dance
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Nichelle Nichols remembers combining ballet and tap dance techniques
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her training under Carmencita Romero
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols remembers completing high school while dancing professionally
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her early experiences of religion
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols recalls dancing at the Sherman House Hotel in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols remembers segregation in downtown Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her parents' support for her aspirations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Nichelle Nichols recalls dancing at a resort in Hawaii
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Nichelle Nichols remembers her decision to focus on singing
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her singing career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols remembers her marriage to Foster Johnson
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols recalls the birth of her son
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols remembers developing her acting talent
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols recalls singing in the chorus of 'Porgy and Bess'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols recalls her appearance in 'Kicks and Company'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols remembers her role on 'The Lieutenant,' pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Nichelle Nichols remembers her role on 'The Lieutenant,' pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols remembers working with James Baldwin
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her role in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols recalls being offered a part on 'Star Trek'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols remembers creating the role of Uhura
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols recalls working with Leonard Nimoy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols talks about Gene Roddenberry's commitment to diverse casting
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Nichelle Nichols recalls the casting of William Shatner and DeForest Kelley on 'Star Trek'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Nichelle Nichols remembers the pranks on the set of 'Star Trek'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Nichelle Nichols recalls the challenges during the first season of 'Star Trek'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Nichelle Nichols describes meeting the network producers of 'Star Trek'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Nichelle Nichols talks about the appeal of 'Star Trek'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols recalls the minority guest appearances on 'Star Trek'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols talks about the racial commentary in 'Star Trek'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols talks about the representation of women on 'Star Trek'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols recalls her experiences of discrimination on the set of 'Star Trek,' pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols recalls her experiences of discrimination on the set of 'Star Trek,' pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols remembers filming the first interracial kiss on television
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Nichelle Nichols recalls her decision to continue acting on 'Star Trek'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Nichelle Nichols remembers the cancellation of 'Star Trek'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols recalls the syndication of 'Star Trek'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols talks about the 'Star Trek' animated series
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols describes her film work after the original 'Star Trek' series
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols talks about the Trekkie phenomenon
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols recalls the growth of the 'Star Trek' franchise
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols remembers writing her autobiography
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Nichelle Nichols describes her efforts to recruit black women as astronauts
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Nichelle Nichols talks about the Kwanza Foundation
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols describes the aims of the Kwanza Foundation
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her hopes for the future
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her family
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols describes how she would like to be remembered