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Nichols made history

"Mr. Spock, the women on your planet are logical -- the only planet in the galaxy that can make that claim!" said William Shatner to Leonard Nimoy in the famous TV series, "Star Trek."

I was late getting back to town in time to see the famous ladies of TV's greatest era at the 92 Street Y, but I am told each and every one of them -- the great Angie Dickinson, the beautiful Linda Evans, the charming Stefanie Powers and the history-making Nichelle Nichols -- gave greatly of themselves to a packed house of admirers.

I will just repeat one story from the evening because it has resonance. Nichelle Nichols was the forward-thinking communications officer of the big hit "Star Trek." She made some TV history when her character and Captain Kirk shared a brief kiss -- the first interracial smooch on national television. (The censors danced around that a bit by having Captain Kirk under some kind of spell that "forced" him to kiss Lieutenant Uhura. Still, ground was broken.)

Nichelle told of how she had Broadway ambitions as a singer, dancer, actress but Gene Roddenberry, the "Star Trek" producer, signed her for one year to play Uhura. She performed beautifully for her year but still yearned to get back to the Broadway scene. Roddenberry gave her his blessing but begged her to stay with the show. Nichelle did not relent but was doing an NAACP benefit when someone told her that "a fan" wanted to speak to her afterward.

She said OK and was amazed when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was brought to her to compliment her and tell her how very important her TV appearances were for all black people. "You have important powers, such grace, and you are an inspiration for all that we are trying to accomplish.

"I sincerely hope you change your mind about leaving 'Star Trek' as your role is so pivotal and important."

Nichelle Nichols stayed on TV and made her mark in history!

This story reminded me very much of a tale Lena Horne told of her early days in Hollywood. She was disillusioned by her limited movie career and wanted to return to singing in clubs in New York. But her friend Count Basie told Lena. "You have to go back, sister. We don't get these kinds of chances very often. You have to go back and be Lena Horne, and be the best Lena Horne you can be!"

***

Many places I go I run into one of my favorite people, although I am light years his senior and I always think he probably feels he is "covering" the wrong party when he sees me there.

I am speaking of the young intrepid reporter Jacob Bernstein of the Huffington Post. Jacob's mother, the famous writer Nora Ephron, is one of my longtime friends. Nora can handle her own fans, even her own critics, but she is ever vigilant that no one she knows should ever embarrass either of her sons by commenting or connecting them.

Once upon a time not too long ago when I asked Nora how younger son Max was doing, she answered tentatively, "Liz, have you ever heard of Ke$ha? Max plays guitar for that group."

For months I kept a scrap of paper with "Ke$ha" written on it washing around my desk. Eventually I came to learn that Ke$ha is one of the reasons the music business is still alive. So now I know that my pal Jacob Bernstein has an equally talented brother. Jacob and Max Bernstein have the "fame" genes. And I am very proud of these young men!

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