Happy Birthday to Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols (82) and to Marvel Comics’ Icon, Stan Lee (92)

Nichelle Nichols helped break down TV's racial barriers during the 1960s as she portrayed the feisty, intelligent and capable, "Lt. Uhura" in "Star Trek." (Photo: CBS/Paramount)

Nichelle Nichols broke down TV’s racial barriers during the 1960s while portraying the feisty, intelligent and ever-capable, “Lt. Uhura” on NBC’s ground-breaking sic-fi classic series, Star Trek. (Photo: CBS)

The camera LOVED Nichelle Nichols and wasted no opportunity to zoom in for yet another stunning closeup. Now, with the release of Star Trek on fully remastered DVDs, the benefits to fans are obvious (and appreciated). (Photo: CBS/Paramount)

The camera LOVED Nichelle Nichols and directors wasted no time or opportunity to zoom in for yet another stunning closeup. Now, 45 years later, with the release of Star Trek on fully remastered DVDs, the benefits to fans are clear and obvious. WOWZA! (Photo: CBS/Paramount)

Two Television and Pop Culture Icons Share the Same Birthday
—Exactly 10 Years Apart!

I met Nichelle Nichols in person for the first and only time in Dallas, TX at (of course) a 1980’s Star Trek convention. The auditorium where she was scheduled to appear that evening had quickly filled up with hundreds of faithful, adoring “Trekkies” (myself included) and the anticipation at seeing and meeting the beloved actress was palpable.

Fans looked about anxiously, watching all the doors, wondering from which direction she might first appear. The energy in the room crackled and felt like a bottle of corked champagne, ready to burst open at the first sighting of her. Fortunately, Nichols didn’t keep her eager audience waiting long; emerging through the room’s main double-doors, she walked up the center aisle amid thunderous applause and declared:

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“Thank you for coming! Thanks so much! Thank you all!”

Nichols was both a trend-setting actress as well as superb role model, helping to break through racial barriers on television and elsewhere. (Photo:

Sexy and in-charge at home (above) and on-screen, Nichols was both a trend-setting actress as well as a superb role model for all African-Americans during (and since) the Civil Rights movement of the ’60s and ’70s. Her tremendous successes have helped other aspiring actresses break through both real and perceived barriers on TV and elsewhere in the entertainment industry. (Photo: misssixtiesfashion)

Nichelle Nichols (Photo: Imdb)

Nichelle Nichols (Photo: Imdb)

At the time, Nichelle was probably just about 50, and looked every bit as beautiful as her devoted fans expected. She took her place behind the podium’s microphone and then launched into an enjoyable half-hour monologue of memories and comments about Star Trek and the rest of her life up to that time. Afterwards, she fielded questions from the audience and then offered to autograph anything and everything we cared to put in front of her. The entire audience stood up as one and a line was quickly formed. She greeted us all with great warmth, kindness and generosity and signed all sorts and sizes of Star Trek photos, posters, action figures, props, costumes and t-shirts, along with the occasional forearm or hand of a fan who had forgotten to bring anything along. (All I had was a postcard. D’oh!)

One of the most sought-after EBONY covers EVER produced, the January 1967 issue featured a stunning Nichols as she ascended Star Trek's famous "Jeffries Tube." Oh, heavenly Body! (Photo: EBONY Magazine)

Oh, Heavenly Body! One of the most sought-after EBONY covers EVER produced, the January 1967 issue featured a stunning Nichols as she ascended Star Trek’s famous “Jeffries Tube.” (Photo: EBONY Magazine)

This may sound silly, but while waiting in line, I was struck by the beauty of Nichelle’s hair. I know, I know. But when I finally reached the head of the room, and was standing only a foot away, it was also the only thing that I could think of to say to her during my alloted 15 seconds. So… after I handed her my vintage ’70s Uhura postcard to sign, I remember (somehow) commenting, “Your hair looks beautiful!” Fortunately, she was VERY happy at hearing my (clumsy) compliment and replied:

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“Thank you very much! That’s so nice of you to say!”

There wasn't a bad angle from which to photograph Nichelle Nichols. And every episode which featured her was instantly made more exciting and interesting for her millions of fans. (Photo: CBS/Paramount)

There wasn’t a bad angle from which to photograph Nichelle Nichols. And every episode which featured her was instantly made more interesting and EXCITING to millions of fans. (Photo: CBS/Paramount)

Bottom Line #1: That’s my entire Nichelle Nichols story. As I walked away, I thought to myself, “Well, that went pretty well. She seemed happy about the hair comment.” It may not seem like much to anyone else, but to me, that brief time with her will always be a treasured memory. What a wonderful, classy lady. Happy Birthday, Nichelle! 82 never looked more beautiful! Thanks again for signing my postcard and for all the joy you’ve brought to the world. Live long and prosper!

Comics legend, Stan Lee turned 92 today. (Photo: Stan Lee)

Comics legend, writer and movie actor, Stan Lee, turns 92 today. (Photo: Stan Lee)

Bottom Line #2: I also wanted to mention that (coincidentally) on this day, December 28th, exactly 10 years prior to the birth of Nichelle Nichols, comics legend, Stan Lee, was also born. And as faithful readers of The Joe Report already know, I am a HUGE fan of Mr. Lee and his work, his countless comic book creations and especially of his SyFy Channel reality-competition show, “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” Over the last 92 years, Lee has clearly demonstrated he has the “Midas Touch” of creativity, and the entire world is certainly a more wonderful place for his having lived and worked among us. Happy Birthday, Stan! Thanks so much for EVERYTHING you do! 

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2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols (82) and to Marvel Comics’ Icon, Stan Lee (92)

  1. Gary Emerson says:

    It’s hard to believe that these two icons are as old as they are. The years have been good to them. Especially Nichelle. She is still as beautiful as ever. I’m told by friends who have met her, that she is exceptionally nice too.

  2. kneonknight says:

    My favorite episode of Star Trek was ‘Plato’s Stepchildren’ wherein Kirk (Bill Shatner) was forced by aliens to kiss Uhura…if I had a beautiful woman like that in my arms, nobody would need to force me to do anything with her!

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