Nichelle Nichols, unfortunately, was diagnosed with dementia by her doctors. According to documents obtained by the publication, TMZ, the 85-year-old actress has “moderate progressive dementia.”
Dr. Meena Makhijiani, who has treated her for several years, claims she has “major impairment” of short-term memory and impairment of understanding abstractions, including place, immediate recall, as well as time.
However, regarding long-term memory; the physical orientation of her body, comprehension, verbal communication; recognition of familiar people, concentration, as well as planning and logic, she’s doing well in those areas.
Three years ago, in 2015, medical professionals rushed her to the hospital after she suffered a mild stroke. It’s a sad day for fans of the infamous actress, whose career has spanned over fifty years.
While her name isn’t a household one, her contributions to women in film, especially African-American women, is outstanding, as she was one of the first to be on screen as not a stereotypical black person, including old and harmful characterizations as a slave or servant.
Some have criticized the actress for her involvement with the creator of Star Trek, claiming that was the real reason she was given a role in the series. Nichols was in a relationship with Gene Roddenberry – who died in 1991 – for several years in the 1960’s, but their affair ended years before Star Trek began, she claims.
Nichols also actively participated in organizations which helped recruit women into NASA. An interesting side note regarding Nichols is that her brother, Thomas, was involved in the Heaven’s Gate cult, with nearly every member killing themselves on the 26th of March, 1997.
Nichelle was also a prominent singer, performing alongside Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton before finally turning toward a career in acting. Her innumerable contributions to film and music, as an African-American woman, has garnered her a significant following.