Nichelle Nichols, a TV pioneer who gained notoriety playing Lieutenant Uhura on the cult-classic series Star Trek, is suffering from dementia and needs protection, TMZ reports.
Her son, Kyle Johnson, has filed legal docs asking for trustees to be appointed to oversee the 85-year-old’s finances. Johnson is also looking to protect his mother’s estate and legally make medical decisions on her behalf.
Johnson said the measure is necessary because her dementia is “impacting her executive functioning” and makes her “susceptible to undue influence.””
He added” “Certain individuals have unduly exerted themselves into [her] life to her detriment.”
This is an unfortunate turn of events for the TV icon who first played the role that made her famous in 1968.
During better times at a PBS’ Pioneers of Television event, Nichols once talked about how she almost left her iconic role as Uhura, but a chance meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King convinced her to stay.
“I met him and told him I was leaving the show,” Nichols said.
He reportedly told her, “The world sees us as we should be seen. As intelligent, beautiful, and qualified just like anybody else. You have the first non-stereotypical role on TV. You cannot leave.”
Outside of making history with an on-screen interracial kiss shared with her Star Trek co-star William Shatner, Nichols was also influential in helping NASA to diversify.
“They hired me to recruit the first woman and minority [for the space shuttle program],” Nichols said. “They had heard me say ‘There are no minorities; I know dozens [who would be able to serve],’ and they said ‘find me one who will fit this criteria and we will hire a dozen.’ And I’ll be darned if they didn’t have to hire a dozen. They wrote me after that and said, ‘we thank you very much, we were right, we’re carrying on with everybody; if they’re qualified, they’re with us.’”
But more recently, Nichols has been plagued with health problems. She suffered a mild stroke in 2015 and as of late she’s been confined to a wheelchair.
Despite those setbacks, Nichols had remained very active in Hollywood. She has three upcoming projects this year including the Star Trek parody film she produced and appears in called Unbelievable!!!!!.
We wish that Nichols continues to live long and prosper.