Nichelle Nichols, actress who portrayed the iconic Lieutenant Uhura in 'Star Trek,' diagnosed with dementia

Writer
Yahoo Celebrity
Actress/honoree Nichelle Nichols at the 2016 Heroes of Hollywood Awards Luncheon, May 11, 2016, in Hollywood. (Photo: Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
Actress/honoree Nichelle Nichols at the 2016 Heroes of Hollywood Awards Luncheon, May 11, 2016, in Hollywood. (Photo: Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

Nichelle Nichols, the actress who brought Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek to life, has been diagnosed with dementia, according to conservatorship documents obtained by TMZ. She is 85 years old.

TMZ says that Dr. Meena Makhijani, a specialist in osteopathic medicine, has been treating Nichols for the last two to three years. According to Makhijani, the disease has progressed. Nichols has significant impairment of her short-term memory and “moderate impairment of understanding abstract concepts, sense of time, place, and immediate recall,” according to TMZ.

However, the actress’s long-term memory does not seem to be affected at this time, nor are her body orientation, concentration, verbal communication, comprehension, recognition of familiar people, or ability to plan and to reason logically.

Nichelle Nichols appears as Uhura in a scene from “The Man Trap,” the premiere episode of <em>Star Trek</em>, which aired on Sept. 8, 1966. (Photo: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
Nichelle Nichols appears as Uhura in a scene from “The Man Trap,” the premiere episode of Star Trek, which aired on Sept. 8, 1966. (Photo: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

Just last month, Nichols appeared at Comic-Con to discuss her role on Star Trek, which ran from 1966 to 1969 on television and continued into multiple films, and how Martin Luther King Jr. inspired her to keep playing Uhura.

“I was going to leave the show to go to Broadway because I’m a singer, dancer, and actor, and I had an offer,” she said. “I was about to go when Dr. King said to me, ‘You can’t.’”

Watch: Nichelle Nichols tell Yahoo Entertainment how Martin Luther King Jr. convinced her to stay on Star Trek:

Nichols was one of the first black women on television who didn’t play a servant or nanny — she was a respected lieutenant who specialized in linguistics, cryptography, and philology, all of which come in handy when dealing with different species in space.

According to Nichols, King told her, “You are our image of where we’re going, you’re 300 years from now, and that means that’s where we are and it takes place now. Keep doing what you’re doing, you are our inspiration.”

“What he had to say stayed with me and it wouldn’t leave, and so I couldn’t leave,” she said. “And I never regretted it.”

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:

Follow us on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day. 


What to Read Next