Drunk History's Take on the Legacy of Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols Is a Booze-Fueled Delight

Image: Comedy Central
Image: Comedy Central

Nichelle Nichols’ time as Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek is iconic—but at this point, so is the story of how she nearly quit the series after a season. So much so, that Drunk History’s retelling of the moment Nichols met Martin Luther King Jr. manages to cover the whole thing pretty hilariously.

The segment, narrated by comedian Ashley Nicole Black, aired as part of last night’s episode. It follows the young actress (played by Raven-Symoné) as she joins Gene Roddenberry’s weird new scifi show, decides to leave it after a season, and is eventually convinced by King (Jaleel White) that her inspiring role was one worth holding on to.


But it also dives into a little bit of Nichols’ history on and off her stint on Star Trek, including one of the coolest tidbits about Nichols’ life. She played an important role helping to drive recruitment for NASA in the years after Star Trek, spearheading an outreach program that brought the likes of Sally Ride, the first woman in space, and Guion Bluford, NASA’s first African-American astronaut, to the organization. Drunk History might be a bit glib about it, but it’s also a delightful celebration of one of scifi’s most iconic female stars.


James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!

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The Ron Swanson of Westeros

I didn’t want to mention this on Jezebel (genuinely, everyone needs a space to talk), but I have to say, I’m not sure you could find another cast of a TV show that really rose to the occasion and used their fame for good in quite the same way as the cast of the Original Series. Most of them were just workaday actors just trying to make a living, but a lot of them took that power and did some really great things.

Nichelle Nichols and George Takei are the biggest names, but even the quieter, artistic people like Walter Koenig and Leonard Nimoy have done some really nice things behind the scenes over the years. Nimoy, for example, personally negotiated with Desilu to secure equal pay for Nichols during her tenure on the show, and never even discussed it. It only came out in 2014 after Walter Koenig mentioned it in an interview. And of course, you need every tissue in the world to listen to Jimmy Doohan discuss the thing he was proudest of in his life:

And while you’re dabbing your eyes, just remember that Jimmy Doohan hit the shore in the first waves of the Normandy landings. That’s the kind of guy he was.