Another special guest is about to visit Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash on Comic Book Men: Nichelle Nichols (Nyota Uhura from the original Star Trek). Every Trekkie loves her. How could they not? But there’s more to Nichols than meets the eye. Here are six things all but the most devoted Trekkies may not know…
1. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convinced Her to Stay on Star Trek
After the first season of Star Trek, Nichols left the show for a Broadway play. A few days later, MLK encouraged Nichols to stay on Star Trek, calling her stereotype-busting character an inspiration. Nichols recalls King saying, “This is why we are marching. We never thought we’d see this on TV.” Inspired by his words, Nichols rescinded her resignation. The rest is TV history.
2. She’s a Fashion Icon
Before Nichols, women in scifi generally looked like conservative housewives. Uhura brought a bit of the swinging ’60s to the 23rd century with her miniskirts and thigh-high boots. Her fashion style would go on to influence other intergalactic franchises, from the 1970s Battlestar Galactica to the 21st century’s Star Trek reboot.
3. She Made History With a Kiss
Nichols will always have a place in TV history thanks to the kiss she shared with Captain Kirk (William Shatner). When she and Shatner locked lips, it marked the first kiss between a white man and a black woman on television. (Yes, an alien race coerced them to do it but it still counts.)
4. She Inspires Real Life Space Explorers
Nichols partnered with NASA on a program to recruit minority astronauts, who included Sally Ride (the first woman in space) and Colonel Guion Bluford (the first African-American in space). Astronaut Mae Jemison has even cited Uhura as a role model.
5. She Helped Name Uhura
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry took inspiration from the book Uhuru, which Nichols was reading when they met to discuss her role. Roddenberry wanted to give the character an African heritage and liked the sound of the word “uhuru” (which means “freedom”). Nichols suggested “Uhura.” Enough said.
6. She Can Sing
Nichols has quite the musical resume: She’s performed with Duke Ellington and in productions of Porgy and Bess and Carmen Jones. In one Star Trek episode, Uhura serenades crew members with a soulful tune accompanied by Spock on the Vulcan lyrette.
Don’t miss Comic Book Men Sunday at Midnight/11c on AMC to see yet another side of this talented actress.