William Shatner and J.J. Abrams lead tributes to Nichelle Nichols

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William Shatner and J.J. Abrams have paid tribute to late Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols.

The trailblazing actress passed away of natural causes on Saturday at the age of 89. She was best known for playing communications officer Nyota Uhura in the original Star Trek TV series in the '60s alongside the likes of Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and George Takei.

Shatner responded to her passing on Twitter by writing, "She was a beautiful woman & played an admirable character that did so much for redefining social issues both here in the US & throughout the world. I will certainly miss her. Sending my love and condolences to her family."

Takei tweeted, "My heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend," while Adam Nimoy, the son of late actor Leonard, shared a snap of his father with Nichols and wrote, "The importance of Nichelle's legacy cannot be over-emphasized. She was much loved and will be missed."

Meanwhile, Abrams, who directed two Star Trek movies, wrote, "A remarkable woman in a remarkable role. Nichelle, you will be deeply missed. Sending much love and respect," and Karl Urban, who played Bones in Abrams' films, added, "Trail blazer Legend My heart goes out to her family and friends God speed Nichelle."

Outside of acting, Nichols volunteered her time to promote several NASA programmes focused on promoting diversity within the space agency. NASA representatives paid tribute by sharing a photo of her wearing the agency's jumpsuit and writing, "We celebrate the life of Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek actor, trailblazer, and role model, who symbolized to so many what was possible. She partnered with us to recruit some of the first women and minority astronauts, and inspired generations to reach for the stars."

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