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Noel Neill
Kurt Neumann
John Newland
Julie Newmar
Nichelle Nichols
Jack Nicholson
Leonard Nimoy
 
NICHOLS, NICHELLE
(Grace Nichols 1932– ). American actress.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in: "The Deadly Silence" (two-part episode) (1966), episode of Tarzan; Star Trek (tv series) (1966-1969); Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Robert WISE 1979); Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Nicholas MEYER 1982); Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Leonard NIMOY 1984); The Supernaturals (Armand Mastroianni 1986); Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Nimoy 1986); Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (William SHATNER 1989); Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Meyer 1991); The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space (tv movie) (Max Tash 1995); "Renunciation" (2000), episode of G vs. E; Roddenberry on Patrol (video short) (Tim RUSS 2003); Surge of Power (Mike Donahue 2004); "Kindred," "The Kindness of Strangers," "Fight or Flight," "Four Months Ago," "Truth and Consequences" (2007), episodes of HeroesStar Trek: Of Gods and Men (video) (Russ 2007).

Provided voice for animated films: Star Trek (animated tv series) (1973-1975); Star Trek: 25th Anniversary Enhanced (video game) (1992); "Commander Toad in Space" (1993), episode of ABC Weekend SpecialsStar Trek: Judgment Rites (video game) (1993); "Avatar" (1994), episode of Batman; "Deadly Force" (1994), "Her Brother's Keeper," "The Cage" (1995), "Mark of the Panther" (1996), episodes of Gargoyles; "Partners in Danger, Chapter 7: The Vampire Queen," "Secret Wars, Chapter 2: The Gauntlet of the Red Skull" (1997), episodes of Spider-Man; Gargoyles: Brothers Betrayed (animated short) (Saburo Hashimoto and Kazuo Terada 1998); "Anthology of Interest" (2000), "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" (2002), episodes of Futurama; "The Yukari Imprint" (2000), episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command; "Simple Simpson" (2004), episode of The Simpsons.

Hosted: Inside Space (tv series) (1992-1999).

Appeared in documentaries: Star Trek 25th Anniversary Special (Donald R. Beck 1991); Star Trek: A Captain's Log (Michael Mahler 1994);  Last Angel of History (John Akomfrah 1995); William Shatner's Star Trek Memories (Mahler 1995); Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond (Louis J. Horvitz 1996); Trekkies (Roger Nygard 1997); The Stars of Star Wars: Interviews with the Cast (Kent Hagen 1999); "Star Trek" (2003), episode of After They Were Famous; How William Shatner Changed the World (Julian Jones 2007); Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier (John Logsdon 2007).

 
So, which of the two inevitable stories do you want to hear about Nichelle Nichols? That she was a talented singer and actress who, early in her career, was unfortunately typecast in a one-dimensional role and hence was never given a chance to display her true abilities? Or that she was an unremarkable performer lucky enough to land a role in a popular series, subsequently guaranteeing her steady employment in undemanding venues which were thrilled by her presence and unconcerned about the quality of her work? Either story will explain the undeniable evidence: many, many hours of footage of Nichols mechanically gesturing, reciting her lines, and failing to be persuasive as an actress. However, while I don't wish to be unkind (really!), I must admit that I am leaning toward the latter explanation.

Consider the most prominent piece of evidence—the television series Star Trek, which featured Nichols in every episode—and recognize that its general failure to provide her with any genuine challenges was largely a matter of cause and effect: as a series progresses, performers who distinguish themselves (like James DOOHAN and Walter KOENIG) are given more and more to do, while those who fail to distinguish themselves (like Nichols and George TAKEI) are given less and less to do. Only on three occasions I can recall was Nichols allowed to step out of her routine, and two of them were disastrous: that excruciating scene in "Charlie X" when Uhura sang in the Enterprise lounge while Leonard NIMOY's Spock played the Vulcan harp, and that equally excruciating image of Uhura and William SHATNER's Kirk kissing in "Plato's Stepchildren"—heralded, perhaps incorrectly, as television's first interracial kiss—though one must admit that the sequence didn't work mainly because Shatner so badly misplayed it (I don't care if sinister aliens are forcing you to do it—a man kissing a beautiful woman, especially one so notoriously promiscuous as Kirk, should still try to enjoy the experience). One cherishes only "Mirror, Mirror," where Nichols's antics in the mirror universe briefly suggested that she might have thrived if the era had allowed her to portray a somewhat tougher, ballsier Lieutenant Uhura.

If Nichols otherwise was asked only to recite the usual lines in response to the usual orders and to furrow her brows in the usual manner when the usual problems arise, one must acknowledge that all of these perfunctory chores played a larger role in the success of Star Trek than is regularly acknowledged. Simply having her and Takei perpetually in the background, due to Gene RODDENBERRY's visionary multi-racial casting, allowed Star Trek reruns to retain an air of modernity, and hence remain viable in syndication, in later, more enlightened decades while other, all-white programs from the 1960s (like Irwin ALLEN's lamentable Lost in Space) began to seem dated, and Uhura's constant visibility as the Enterprise's Communications Officer did powerfully convey that, in contrast to space sagas of the past, the mission of this starship was indeed, as indicated by its immortal prologue, to communicate with space and not to conquer it. Time and time again, in order to deal with a crisis, Captain Kirk was absolutely dependent upon Uhura's ability to establish radio contact or display rubber-suited aliens on the ship's television screen for that all-important face-to-mask communication. Perhaps almost any actor or actress could have performed these duties, but Nichols still deserves some credit for happening to be the actress who competently carried them out.

Still, bored by the repetitiveness of it all, Nichols understandably grew very tired of it all, no doubt inspiring many regrets that she had abandoned her promising singing career (which included gigs with none less than Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton) to have a fling with a television producer and move into acting, and leading to a provisional decision to quit the show (which was famously abandoned after a conversation with none less than Martin Luther King, Jr.).  However, when cancellation later forced her to give up her role as Uhura, she initially found it difficult to find work other than providing Uhura's voice for the animated Star Trek series and appearing at Star Trek conventions. Only the series' revival as a film franchise brought her back into the spotlight, although she was again given little to do—with some forgettable exceptions, most notably her un-seductive seductive dance in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Her only memorable recent performance came in that enjoyable anticipation of Galaxy Quest, The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space, where she aptly matched the film's playful mood as a platitude-spouting priestess. (I might also mention her adequate work as the mother in Snow Dogs, arguably relevant here because the film includes a fantasy sequence with talking dogs, but on second thought, omitting that movie from an actor's filmography would be a true act of charity.)

However, despite such roles, Nichols has mostly kept busy during the past fifteen years with assignments that don't really require any acting ability—providing voices for animated television series—and nostalgic appearances in Tim RUSS's direct-to-video Star Trek curiosities. Long ago resigned to her fate, Nichelle Nichols will always remain available, one suspects, to open those hailing frequencies one more time.

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