Nichelle Nichols

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Nichelle Nichols Trivia

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  • Trivia

    • Nichelle's Bibliography:
      Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories (1994)
      Saturn's Child (1996)
      Saturna's Quest (2002)

    • Nichelle recorded a musical album, "Down to Earth" which was released in January 1997.

    • Since the mid-1980s, she served on the Board of Governors of the National Space Society.

    • Nichelle appeared in the TV commercial for Psychic Encounters in 1996.

    • Nichelle's great-grandfather, James Gillespie, was Welsh.

    • Nichelle is the mother of actor Kyle Johnson.

    • Nichelle confessed in her autobiography she once had a close, personal relationship with Star Trek (1966) creator Gene Roddenberry.

    • Nichelle was discovered by Duke Ellington in her mid-teens. She toured with both Ellington and Lionel Hampton as a lead singer and dancer. Decades later in 1992, she made use of her voice again starring in a dramatic one-woman musical show Reflections in which she became 12 separate song legends.

    • In early 1951 at age 18, Nichelle married a dancer who was fifteen years her senior. Within four months they split and by August of 1951 she bore his son. She remarried in 1968, this time to a songwriter, but that marriage also ended in divorce a few years later.

    • Nichelle became the first African-American to place her handprints in front of Hollywood's Chinese Theatre, along with the rest of the Star Trek (1966) crew.

    • Nichelle and Star Trek (1966) co-star William Shatner shared the first interracial kiss on American television. This resulted in a deluge of mail, 99% of which was positive.

    • From the late 1970's until sometime in the late 1980's, Nichelle was employed by NASA and was in charge of astronaut recruits and hopefuls. Most of the recruits that she launched were minority candidates of different races and/or ethnicities, as well as gender, like Guion Bluford (the first African American male astronaut), Sally Ride (the first female astronaut), Judith Resnick (one of the original female astronauts recruited by NASA, who perished during the launch of the Challenger on January 28, 1986), and Ronald McNair (another victim of the Challenger disaster). She lived in Houston, Texas during her years as a Johnson Space Center employee.

    • Comedian Whoopi Goldberg lists Nichelle as a huge influence on her deciding to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.

    • Former NASA astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison was inspired by Nichelle's portrayal of Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trek when she decided to become the first African American female astronaut.

    • Nichelle's role as "Lt. Uhura" on Star Trek (1966) was the first time that an African American actress was portrayed in a non-stereotypical role. Previously, African American female actresses were depicted as maids or housekeepers.

    • Fed up with the racist harassment, culminating with her learning that the studio was withholding her fan mail, Nichelle submitted her resignation. She withdrew it when Martin Luther King personally convinced her that her role was too important as a breakthrough to leave.

    • Nichelle's younger brother Thomas commited suicide with the cult members in Rancho Santa Fe, near San Diego in March, 1997.

    • Her height is 5' 5" (1.65 m).

    • Nichelle was the first black woman to be on Star Trek (1966).

  • Quotes

    • Nichelle Nichols: In "Plato's Stepchildren," Uhura and Kirk were supposed to kiss under duress from their captors. It became an issue with the director and Gene Roddenberry finally decided to shoot the scene with and without the kiss. Bill Shatner kept kissing until there was only time for one more take. When the camera zoomed in, Bill crossed his eyes and the director didn't notice it until the next day in dailies. Of course the last scene was unusable and they had to go with the kiss scene, which became history as the first interracial kiss on TV.

    • Nichelle Nichols: The day Jimmy Doohan fell into the water off the Bird of Prey. All the actors in the live scene thought it was a joke and jumped in after him. Nimoy, who was directing the film, was flabbergasted but quickly jumped in with them and screamed at the camera crew, "Keep shooting -- keep shooting!" It turned out to be a keeper and one of the best shots in the movie.

    • Nichelle Nichols: The day the actors took Leonard Nimoy's bike (which he used for transportation around the Paramount lot) and hung it in the rafters on the soundstage. He didn't find it for days, until they finally pointed to it.

    • Nichelle Nichols:Through conventions, personal appearances, and email, I still am involved. However, I have always had other professional interests, have never stopped working, and almost always look to the future more than the past.

    • Nichelle Nichols: Musical theatre has always been my first love. I was on my way to Broadway when, as I tell my fans, Star Trek interrupted my career!

    • Nichelle Nichols: (about Star Trek still seen as a children's series) I don't get fan mail from children, from England. I think anybody with any intelligence sits down and sees the show, sees it's not a kids' show.

    • Question: Your album Down to Earth is just out on CD. Are you worried that people might think your album is a novelty record?
      Nichelle Nichols: I don't know. I have no feeling about it. It's an original album that I did years ago and I'm delighted that they want to put it out, but whatever their reasonings are, only God and they know. I had no idea that they were doing that.

    • Nichelle Nichols: (about playing Uhura in Star Trek) It was unheard of. As a matter of fact, I really did not at first appreciate the magnitude of what he was doing. He never did anything without knowing what and why he was doing it, but I didn't really realize what he was accomplishing. Throughout the first season I was simply so affected by each script, each episode kept getting better and better and better and I thought, "Gene better be careful because they're going to cancel this show: it's too good." It was towards the end of the show and I was really considering leaving the show, for no other reason than I wanted to return to the theatre. I went in to talk to Gene - this was I was getting up nerve to tell him I was leaving the show, but at this point I went in and I said "Gene, I've been watching each of the episodes and they each get better and better" and I said, "And I discovered something: you're writing morality plays." And he said, "Shhh. They haven't figured it out yet."

    • Nichelle Nichols: (about the creation of the first Star Trek convention) Almost immediately in 1970, after the show was canceled in '69, a group of people in New York got together and they were lawyers and brokers um, Wall Street people, and they put some money together and said, "Let's get some friends together and celebrate how wonderful it was." They decided to go to a hotel, get a hotel ball room, and then they said, "Why don't we invite, friends from out of town?" and so they all decided to throw in three hundred bucks apiece, I think there was about four or five of them. Then somebody said, "Do you think the cast would come and do you think Gene Roddenberry would come?" And they said, "God, I don't think so." "Well, they can only say no. That's the worst they can say." and so they called and everybody said, "That would be wonderful." And it was the first Star Trek convention in New York.

    • Nichelle Nichols: (about her costume on Star Trek) Well I hated the color, that was all. It was kind of a pea green. Gene hated the color also, and so he called Bill Theiss in and told him he wanted to change that costume, and um, - so I think I wore that pea green thing for a couple of episodes and then they changed to that beautiful red. I thought that Bill Theiss did a pretty good job except for the ruffles around the guy's pants. I didn't like the ruffles around the guy's pants.

    • Nichelle Nichols: (asked bout going another career than entertainment) No. I was very blessed in always knowing what I wanted to do and what I wanted it to be, and by the grace of God I've been able to succeed in my chosen career.

    • Reporter: How did you feel about your costume. It was very revealing.
      Nichelle Nichols: So? I was wearing them on the street. What's wrong with wearing them in the air? I wore 'em on airplanes. It was the era of the miniskirt. Everybody wore miniskirts. It amazes me that people still make some remark about 'the revealing'. They revealed nothing. I had long black stockings on and boots up to my knees and the skirts and panties on and a skirt that gave you freedom to move in, - so what?

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