Actress Nichelle Nichols is well-known for her role as Lieutenant Uhura on the original “Star Trek.” In the 1960s, she became one of the first Black women to star in a major television role, particularly one that had nothing to do with servitude and other stereotypical tropes actors of color were typically cast for.
Now, the trailblazing actress is allegedly fighting “for her life” in a contentious guardianship battle with her son since she was diagnosed with dementia last year.
Disturbing video footage was sent this week to CBS46 Atlanta by Gilbert Bell, who claimed to be a longtime friend and manager of Nichols, who has dementia. It was reported that the video, which has not been made public, shows Nichols looking over documents related to her guardianship filed by her son, Kyle Johnson, for the first time.
“I’m the boss of me Gill, he’s not the boss of me,” Nichols is heard saying in the recording, which was sent Tuesday but apparently recorded in April. “I didn’t give permission to have conservatorship over me. I didn’t know what he was doing.”
Bell claimed that Johnson then walked into the room and Nichols began to confront him.
“You get your hands off me,” she yells. “You’re trying to get rid of me.”
Then she begins her heartbreaking shrieks that Bell described as Nichols screaming “for her life.”
“It’s pretty devastating what is going on with this icon,” Bell said of the dispute between Nichols and Johnson.
Following the release of the audio, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was dispatched to do a wellness check on Nichols Tuesday, but have declined to comment further.
According to Nichols’ doctors, though her short-term memory is impaired by dementia, her long-term memory was still good. Despite the diagnosis, the actress has continued to travel around the country participating in conventions and other events discussing the importance of her historic role. But according to close friends, these appearances may come to an end if her son has anything to do with it.
Nichols’ friend Angelique Fawcette, a movie producer, said that dementia is not Nichols’ biggest problem, her son is.
“I knew [Nichols and her son] had a bad relationship,” she said. “I’ve never seen Nichelle scream like that.”
Johnson filed a petition last year to gain conservatorship over his mother claiming she needed court-ordered protection because “individuals have unduly exerted themselves into Ms. Nichols’ life to her detriment.”
Fawcette herself, who calls Nichols “family,” objected to Johnson’s petition stating that she is articulate and coherent enough to manage her own finances and that all Johnson intends to do is obtain access to her estate. Fawcette also went on to say that he had been “absolutely careless” about his mother’s well-being only visiting her on a few occasions in the last six years.
Since the video was released, Johnson has been tight-lipped only denying the claim that his mother has a manager, but he did not deny the accusations against him.
Nichols former “Star Trek” co-star William Shatner, with whom she shared the nation’s first televised interracial kiss, commented about the recording of Nichols via Twitter.
“I am saddened by the video but as much as I want to scream; she is the victim of the courts making a decision. It needs to be revisited at that level and safeguards put in place to do random checks on her wellbeing by licensed experts,” Shatner wrote.