Nichelle Nichols is one of the most beloved sci-fi icons in the world. Unfortunately, though, the Star Trek star has been suffering health problems in recent years. In 2015 news hit that she had suffered a stroke, deeply upsetting her legions of fans. She seemed to be getting better… but just a few years later she was diagnosed with something just as serious.
Nichelle Nichols played Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, a bridge officer, in the classic ’60s sci-fi series Star Trek. The TV program was groundbreaking in many ways, not least because it used its futuristic setting to comment on contemporary issues such as war, sexism, and racism. Uhura was one of the few black women on television presented as equal to her white counterparts.
Star Trek even featured one of the first interracial kisses in American TV history, when Nichols kissed William Shatner’s Captain Kirk. Nichols wrote in her 1994 autobiography about one of the letters she got at the time. A white man wrote, “I am totally opposed to the mixing of the races. However, any time a red-blooded American boy like Captain Kirk gets a beautiful dame in his arms that looks like Uhura, he ain’t gonna fight it.”