She was 89 years old.
Her son Kyle Johnson revealed on social media that Nichols died of natural causes seven years after suffering a stroke.
She is best known for her role as Lieutenant Uhura in the 1966 Star Trek television series and its feature-length sequels.
At one time, the appearance of a black actress in the role of an officer on the bridge of the starship Enterprise became a sensation. Nichols essentially enabled black women to play key roles on television. Her kiss with Captain Kirk is considered one of the first interracial kisses on American TV – interracial marriage was then still illegal in 17 US states.
Many celebrities admitted that it was Nichelle Nichols who became their source of inspiration: thanks to her, Whoopi Goldberg decided to become an actress (later she appeared in episodic roles in the franchise), and the first African-American woman to fly into space, Mae Jemison, called Uhura a model for astronauts.
Nichols has been married twice and is survived by her son, Kyle Johnson.