Nichols, Nichelle, 1932-

Variant names

Hide Profile

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 filmPorgy 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 inStar 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 theStar Trekmovie and television series, includingStar 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) andTarzan'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 autobiographyBeyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories(1994), Nichols is co-author ofSaturn'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 theStar Trekcast. 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 byThe HistoryMakerson December 17, 2013.

From The HistoryMakers™ biography:

Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf The HistoryMakers Video Oral History with Nichelle Nichols The HistoryMakers
Relation Name
honoraryMemberOf Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority corporateBody
associatedWith Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974 person
associatedWith Muskat, Joyce. person
associatedWith Richie, Lionel person
associatedWith Roddenberry, Gene person
associatedWith United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration corporateBody
associatedWith Wincelberg, Shimon. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Woodland Hills (Calif.)
Robbins (Ill.)
Robbins IL US
United States 00 US
Film Actress
Television Actress


Birth 1932-12-28

Birth 19321228




Ark ID: w6v12rhh

SNAC ID: 38121292