Beloved Star Trek actor, Nichelle Nichols, age 82, suffered a stroke Wednesday night in her L.A. home. Best known for her role as Lt. Uhura, Nichols is reportedly doing well and shows no signs of paralysis. Nichols received both a CAT scan, which came back negative, and an MRI which showed that the stroke was minor.
Nichols was cast in the original run of Star Trek as Lt. Uhura, a groundbreaking role for a black actor in the 1960’s. Her appearance in Star Trek broke many racial barriers as at the time black actors were mostly cast in menial roles such as maids or servants. A woman of color in a fourth in command position was a huge deal and inspired thousands. Nichols also became the first black woman to share a kiss with a white man on U.S. TV when she and William Shatner lip-locked in 1966.
Uhura was an incredibly inspiring character, with even Dr. Martin Luther King among her viewers. “I am the biggest Trekkie on the planet, and I am lieutenant Uhura’s most ardent fan,” Nichols remembers the activist telling her just before she planned to quit the show. Shaken by this news, King urged her to keep acting in the influential role.
Nichols is still acting today and recently announced that she is filming for the sequel to Surge of Power. She also played Nana Dawson in Heroes in 2006 and made a guest appearance in Futurama in 2002.
Nichols has reportedly started treatment today for the stroke. “She will start therapy this morning to evaluate how much damage was done, and try to determine her chances for a full or partial recovery,” says her agent, Zach McGinnis, on the actor’s Facebook page. He went on to say that the well wishes fans are sending her are keeping her in high spirits. “When we told her about the love and support coming in from around the world she smiled and asked to see the posts on her Facebook.” McGinnis urges fans to continue sending the actor messages because “Nichelle is reading them.”
Former Yellow Power Ranger, Karan Ashley, sent Nichols her own well-wishes, expressing that “Niagara Falls Comic Con wont be the same without [Nichols] this weekend.” Nichols was scheduled to appear at the convention, but will be undergoing therapy instead. Nichols wrote back to Ashley on Facebook, “Thank you sweet heart. I’m feeling much better. Have a good weekend at Niagara Falls Comic Con. I look forward to getting back on the road with you.”
Feature image by NY Daily News.