Thursday, May 29, 2014

Beyond Uhura: Review

In Beyond Uhura, Nichelle Nichols tells her story from the beginnings growing up in a socially progressive family through her teen years as a young singer/dancer who had already been praised by Josephine Baker and worked with Duke Ellington. She got her first job at the age of fourteen working in a cast at the Sherman House Hotel which portrayed many of the tremendous acts which had been staged at the Sherman House's College Inn supper club in the twenties: Fred and Adele Astaire, Duke Ellington, Al Jolson, Irving Berlin and others. Ms. Nichols helped re-create the appearance of Katherine Dunham and her troupe. From those early years, she went on to travel solo as a singer/dancer and finally worked her way to her first television screen appearance in a new show by a new producer--The Lieutenant by Gene Roddenberry.

Little did she know what working with Roddenberry on that first series would lead to. Nichelle is, as far as I'm concerned, the first lady of Star Trek. (Yes, I know that title is most often given to Majel Barrett as Gene's wife.) She is beautiful, a great actress, and an even better singer. She had a tremendous effect on the entry of women and minorities into the space program. Yes, her autobiography is just a little self-indulgent--but she's earned it. (Show me someone in the entertainment world who isn't. Most are even more so.) And..she manages through each of the negative incidents in her life--from being not only a woman in Hollywood, but a black woman in Hollywood--to remain very positive throughout. 

A fascinating (to quote Mr. Spock) read.  I have always enjoyed her as Uhura. I enjoyed this book and its look at her life before and outside of Star Trek.  ★★★


fredamans said...

I would love to read her story. Being the first biracial smooch on screen, it fascinates me to know how she felt at that time.
Great review! I feel I need a copy of this book. :-)

Yvette said...

Funny coincidence, Bev, I read a Star Trek book just a couple of weeks ago too. I love Nichelle and always wished they'd used her more. But at least she was there and visible. Thank goodness for Gene Roddenberry.

My book was THE VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE Memories of Star Trek and A Life in Hollywood by Nicholas Meyer (He directed and wrote a couple of the Star Trek films.) Very entertaining (though I didn't review it) if also just the slightest bit self-indulgent. I suppose they can't help it. Ha.

Bev Hankins said...

Freda: Nichelle's story is really quite good. Her dad was mayor near Chicago when Al Copone was about. He and her mom faced him down in their own home.

Yvette: I didn't realize that Meyer had written a book that told about his ST experiences (and, yes, I knew he'd been involved). Hmmm. May have to look for that.

I still have Walter Koenig's book yet to read. I've read the Shatner books--now there's self-indulgent for you, George Takei's book, Leonard Nimoy's 2nd book (I Am Spock)--I'd still like to get hold of his first one. and a De Kelley biography. You could say I like Trek.

neer said...

How lucky Bev to read this book. It has been on my wishlist for quite some time. Nichelle to me is Uhura. The new actress just didn't work for me... but then nobody did. Star Trek to me is still the original cast.