Nichols is best remembered for her role as Lieutenant Uhura on the original “Star Trek” (1966–1969), which she has reprised in six “Star Trek” films. Nichelle was a big hit at conventions later in her career.
Depending on the scale of the conference and her commitment, she may make $10,000 to $50,000. Nichols was earning hundreds of thousands of dollars every year from these gatherings before being forced to retire due to health difficulties.
Nichelle has over 60 acting credits, including roles in the films “Snow Dogs” (2002) and “Are We There Yet?” (2005), as well as the soap opera “The Young and the Restless” (2016).
Nichols directed the films “Lady Magdalene’s” (2008) and “Unbelievable!!!!!” (2020), as well as the documentary “Woman in Motion,” on her work with NASA.
She has provided her voice for a variety of animated projects, including “Gargoyles” (1994), “Batman: The Animated Series” (1994), “Futurama” (2000; 2002), and “The Simpsons” (2004). Nichelle is also a published author, having written the biography “Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories” in 1994, as well as the science fiction novels “Saturn’s Child” (1995) and “Saturna’s Quest” (1996). (2002). She also released two albums, “Down to Earth” in 1967 and “Out of This World” in 1991.
Grace Dell Nichols was born on December 28, 1932, in the Chicago neighborhood of Robbins, Illinois. She was raised by her mother, Salish, father, Samuel, and younger brother, Thomas. Her father was a factory worker as well as the mayor and chief magistrate of Robbins. Unfortunately, Nichelle lost her brother, a member of the Heaven’s Gate cult, when the members committed mass suicide in March 1997.
Nichols began her career in show business as a teenager, when she joined Duke Ellington’s ensemble as a dancer at the age of 16. Ellington requested her to sing for him and was so taken with her performance that he decided she should lead the band.
Nichols appeared in the Oscar Brown musical “Kicks and Co.” in 1961, which drew the notice of “Playboy” editor Hugh Hefner, who recruited her to perform at the Chicago Playboy Club. She also portrayed the title role in a Chicago production of “Carmen Jones,” and she participated in a New York production of “Porgy and Bess.”
Her first film job was as an uncredited dancer in the 1959 production of “Porgy and Bess,” starring Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge. Nichelle later starred in the films “Tarzan’s Deadly Silence” (1966), “Made in Paris” (1966), “Mister Buddwing” (1966), and “Doctor, You’ve Got to Be Kidding!” (1967), as well as on the cover of “Ebony” magazine in January 1967.
She made her television debut in 1964 as a guest star on Gene Roddenberry’s “The Lieutenant,” and two years later, he cast Nichols in the part that would transform her life: Lieutenant Uhura on the science-fiction series “Star Trek.” The series debuted on NBC on September 8, 1966, and ran for 79 episodes before being discontinued in 1969.
Nichelle considered leaving the show during the first season to pursue a Broadway career, but Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. persuaded her to stay, telling her, “You simply cannot resign from such an important position. This is the reason we are marching. We never expected to see this on television.”
Nichols and co-star William Shatner made history in the 1968 “Star Trek” episode “Plato’s Stepchildren,” when they shared the first interracial kiss aired on a scripted US TV series.
Nichelle reprised her role as Uhura in the films “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” (1989), and “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” (1991), as well as the television show “Star Trek: The Animated Series” (1973), (1994).
After “Star Trek” was canceled, Nichols starred in the films “Truck Turner” (1974), “The Supernaturals” (1986), and “The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space” (1995), as well as the television movie “Antony and Cleopatra” (1984).
Nichelle featured in the film office smash “Snow Dogs,” which grossed $115 million, followed by another smash, “Are We There Yet?” ($97.9 million), in 2005. In 2007, she appeared in the films “Tru Loved” (2008), “The Torturer” (2008), “This Bitter Earth” (2012), “Renegades” (2016), “American Nightmares” (2018), and “Surge of Dawn” (2019).
In 2016, Nichols had a recurring role as Lucinda Winters on “The Young and the Restless,” and the following year, she guest-starred on “Renegades,” “Downward Dog,” and “Star Trek: Renegades” (but not as Uhura) and appeared in the TV movie “Sharknado 5: Global Swarming.”
She announced in May 2019 that she would be retiring from convention appearances and embarking on a “farewell tour” over the next year. Her last public appearance was scheduled for May 2020 at the Nichelle Nichols Farewell Convention in Burbank, California, but it was cancelled owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nichelle was in a romantic connection with “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry in the 1960s, but they broke up before the series premiered.
When Roddenberry died in 1991, Nichols performed “Gene,” a song she co-wrote, at his funeral. Nichelle married dancer Foster Johnson in 1951, but the couple split the following year. Kyle was born on August 14, 1951, to the couple. Nichols later married Duke Mondy in 1968, and the couple separated in 1972.
She visited the White House in 2012 to meet with President Barack Obama, and she tweeted about it “President Obama was cited months ago as claiming that he had a crush on me when he was younger.
I inquired about it, and he gladly verified it! President Barack Obama also acknowledged to me that he was a Trekker! Isn’t that wonderful?”
Nichelle was hospitalized in June 2015 after suffering a small stroke, and in 2018, it was discovered that she had been diagnosed with dementia. Nichols’ son filed a lawsuit against Gilbert Bell, Nichelle’s manager/caretaker, in August 2020, alleging “financial elder abuse.”
According to the lawsuit, Bell “actively misappropriated monies obtained by Ms. Nichols by siphoning cash from Ms. Nichols’ convention appearances, illegally dividing the money Ms. Nichols received, and misappropriating funds from Ms. Nichols’ financial accounts.” Kyle relocated Nichelle to New Mexico in November 2020 and is the sole caregiver for his mother.
Nichols began working with NASA to attract girls and minorities to become astronauts after “Star Trek” ended. Dr. Sally Ride, Air Force Colonel Guion Bluford, Dr. Judith Resnik, and Dr. Ronald McNair were among the candidates she recruited. Nichelle joined the National Space Society’s board of governors in the mid-1980s.
She took part in an eight-hour NASA mission in 2015, flying onboard the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy Boeing 747SP to study Saturn and Mars’ atmospheres. Nichols and other “Star Trek” cast members attended the dedication ceremony for Enterprise, the first space shuttle, in Palmdale, California, in September 1976.
Nichelle visited Johnson Space Center in 2010 to tour Mission Control and the space shuttle simulator, and NASA named Asteroid 68410 “Nichols” in 2001 in recognition of her work as “a global ambassador for NASA, a recruiter of astronauts, and an inspirer of millions as an author of science fiction,” as well as her role on “Star Trek.”
Nichelle Nichols’ net worth
Nichelle Nichols is a $500 thousand net worth American actress, singer, producer, and author.