“Star Trek" is a movie franchise that has revolutionized film in many ways, but there was one actress, Nichelle Nichols, who led a small revolution of her own. She was the first Black woman cast as the star of the franchise. However, tragedy has recently struck.
On Sunday, July 30, 2022, Nichelle Nichols died at 89. The actress, who played Uhura in the original "Star Trek," was surrounded by those closest to her. Her 70-year-old son, Kyle Jonhson, announced the news.
Kyle took to his mother's Facebook page to share the news with fans and friends worldwide. He revealed in the post that she had succumbed to natural causes on Saturday night. He also asked for privacy during this difficult time.
While Kyle acted as a spokesperson for his mother, her manager Gilbert Bell also confirmed the news to Variety on Sunday morning. It was revealed that she died in Silver City, New Mexico surrounded by family.
Just last December, she made a convention appearance, but it was her last appearance in such an environment. She did the Vulcan salute and blew kisses at the event before passing away eight months later.
NICHELLE'S HEALTH STRUGGLES
While Nichelle died of natural causes, she has been fighting health struggles since 2015, when she suffered a stroke. Just three years after her stroke, she suffered another health blow.
In 2018, Nichelle was diagnosed with dementia. This resulted in her 70-year-old son becoming her legal conservator. However, when she found out that she was under conservatorship, Nichelle became upset.
In a video that Nichelle's manager used in a court hearing against Kyle, Nichelle can be heard screaming when she found out that Kyle had become her legal conservator. Bell said, "She was reading that court document in that video, and that is what upset her."
Gilbert Bell on ABC's "Who Do You Believe?" Tuesday 10 May 2022 | Source: Getty Images
Speaking to People about the legal documents naming Kyle as Nichelle's conservator, Bell shared his feelings on the subject as hesaid
“It’s pretty devastating what is going on with this icon.”
Another person who was very close to Nichelle, longtime friend Angelique Fawcette, was equally as disturbed by the video as Bell was. She claimed never to have seen Nichelle so upset.
Actress/producer Angelique Fawcette (L) and actress Nichelle Nichols attend a screening of the science fiction spoof film "Unbelievable!!!!!" at the Brenden Theatres inside Palms Casino Resort on August 5, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Source: Getty Images
She shared that she had never heard Nichelle scream in such a way, even though she knew that Nichelle and her son didn't have a good relationship. She also shared that you could never understand what was happening behind closed doors.
Fawcette revealed that even though the icon was suffering from dementia, she was "not a victim of delusions." Fawcette admitted that Nichelle only suffered from short-term memory loss and was completely aware of her surroundings.
NICHELLE RECORDED HER THOUGHTS ABOUT LIFE
Actress and Original Star Trek cast member Nichelle Nichols films her final performance for "Renegades: Ominara" at Northrop Grumman on March 5, 2021 in Manhattan Beach, California. | Source: Getty Images
In a poignant 2013 interview, Nichelle shared her views on life and worked before any of her diagnoses. She told viewers what she thought about her son and how he tried to tell her what to do. She also said what she thought about her son and how he tried to tell her what to do, adding that because he did not pay her bills he could not tell her what she should be doing.
Nichelle can be seen sitting at a wooden table in the video while the interviewer is behind the camera. The "Star Trek" alum is then seen explaining the entire situation from her perspective. She said:
“You can't tell me what I can and cannot be as a human being. Any more than you can tell a woman what she can and cannot be or do.”
Nichelle Nichols and son Kyle Johnson attend Day 3 of the 2021 Los Angeles Comic Con held at Los Angeles Convention Center on December 5, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images
She then shared that many people thought because of her age, she should be doing something more fitting for an older person. However, she didn't want to slow down,saying
, "you don't own me.”
The actress also spoke about Kyle, saying that even though her son had advised her to stop working, she was still very proud of him and would never tell him that he had to stop working. She once again reiterated that she paid her own bills and should be allowed to make her own decisions.
Actress Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek series introducing NASA astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison at the Silicon Valley Comic Con in San Jose, Calif. on Saturday, April 7, 2018. | Source: Getty Images
She then said that she wanted to leave her property to her son, despite the fact that he had tried to control her. Shesaid
“When I die…if I die…My property goes to my one and only son, my love.”
The actress shared more wise words when she said that one should never let someone tell them that they are too old to do something or that they have a right to do something else because of who they are.
NICHELLE'S PRIDE AND JOY WAS HER HOUSE
Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura on the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Space Seed." Original air date February 16, 1967.| Source: Getty Images
Despite everything else that Nichelle lost control over when she went under Kyle's conservatorship, her house inWoodland Hills
was the one thing she was most upset about.
She said that she loved that when the big black gates at the entrance of her property closed, her privacy began. However, her home was in jeopardy under her conservatorship.
There was a conflict between Fawcette, Bell, and Kyle over the home. However, in 2020, Nichelle moved out of the house to move closer to Kyle and his wife in New Mexico despite Bell and Fawcette trying to help her.
Fawcette pushed for visitation rights to be able to visit Nichelle and Bell said that he helped to make the home what it is today. Despite their best efforts, Nichelle remained under conservatorship without their pleas being heard until her death.
Much to Fawcette and Bell's dismay, Kyle rented a home for his mother somewhere unknown in New Mexico and sold her house in Woodland Hills for $2.2 million. He declined to speak about moving his mother out of her beloved home.
Since Nichelle was moved out of her home and to New Mexico with her son, she had not seen or heard from Fawcette, and Bell said that he had to move out of the guesthouse on Nichelle's old property where he used to reside.
Fawcette spoke out about how she felt about the situation. She expressed dismay at her friend's treatment and the fact that she had to give up her home saying, saying:
“She was proud of [that house]. She designed it. She helped build it. She planted the trees on it. It was a dream come true for her."
Rest in peace to a legend of film and an icon in terms of paving the way for Black female artists.
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