History-Making Young & Restless Vet Dead at 89
It’s a sad day in Genoa City — and the galaxy.
To most of the planet — every planet — Nichelle Nichols will always be Lt. Uhura from the original Star Trek. But to fans of The Young and the Restless, she is something more. We’ll never forget her poignant guest-starring stint as Lucinda Winters.
Back in 2016, the actress appeared on the CBS soap in a series of episodes that reunited Neil (the late, great Kristoff St. John) with the mother that he’d thought abandoned him many years ago. At last, Lucinda was able to explain.
Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI
Her Side of the Story
Yes, Mom had cheated on Dad. And yes, she had stayed away. But it wasn’t because she hadn’t loved Neil; she had. As he’d understand all too well, she had struggled with alcoholism and had feared that she couldn’t be a good influence on her son.
Lucinda never stopped following Neil’s life, however. She just watched from afar. Finally, when he married Hilary Curtis, Lucinda wrote to him. After so much hurt and so much time, he wasn’t interested in hearing from her, so he just threw the letters in the trash.
Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI
A New Beginning… at an Ending
Not a whole lot that was good came from Neil’s marriage to son Devon’s future bride, but at least Hilary gave the letters to her daughter-in-law, Lily, who tracked down Lucinda and at last informed her dad that she didn’t have long. As a result, he was able to reconnect with his mother and make peace with her.
Neil had hoped that he could introduce Lucinda to the whole family. But it wasn’t meant to be. She died before he could.
Credit: CBS/Getty Images
A Star Among the Stars
As for Nichols, storied career was all but written in the stars. After getting her big break on the stage in 1961, she toured as a singer with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton’s bands. Once she was cast as Uhura, though, there was no turning back.
Nichols did consider doing exactly that, however. Legend has it that, when she was considering leaving Star Trek, no less than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged her to stick with her groundbreaking role. Not only wasn’t she playing a maid — a rarity in those days for African-American actresses — she was playing an equal to her colleagues on the Enterprise. In other words, she was inspiring generations of Black girls to come. (And that, she most definitely did.)
Nichols is also credited with being a part of the first interracial kiss on scripted US television. Although earlier examples do exist, Uhura’s lip-lock with William Shatner’s Captain Kirk — forced upon them by the Platonians — is the one that made the splashiest headlines.
The native of Robbins, Ill., went on to play Uhura in six Star Trek movies and voice her in the 1973 animated series as well a couple of video games. Our sister site Variety reports that she died on July 30 at age 89.
Pay your respects to all of the soap vets we’ve lost in 2022 via the below photo gallery.