It could be said that the saga of Nichelle Nichols – Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura – has had as many plot complications as any Star Trek episode. After surviving a stroke in 2015, the renowned actress has continued to make appearances to meet her fans. However, the effects of her ailment as well as time have taken their toll. In 2018, she received a diagnosis of suffering from dementia. While she genuinely looked forward to continuing to attend these events, her family had grown increasingly concerned.
In 2019, she and her family came to an agreement for a farewell celebration. It was announced as “Hailing Frequencies Open… One Last Time”. Set to take place on the May 1-3, 2020 it fell victim to Covid 19. At first, it was pushed back to Halloween that year but then as the pandemic continued, it was ultimately “postponed.”
“I’m Detecting Multiple Plot Complications on Sensors, Captain”
Not only did the pandemic upend plans for her final curtain call, but allegations of elder abuse surfaced in August of that year. The fight pitted Ms. Nichol’s son, Kyle Johnson, against her manager Gilbert Bell. Even though Mr. Johnson lives with his wife in New Mexico, he has served as her conservator since 2018. At the time, Mr. Bell lived in a guesthouse on Ms. Nichol’s property in Los Angeles. The two filed competing lawsuits against each other. Mr. Bell first alleging that Mr. Johnson engaged in financial elder abuse, breach of fiduciary duty, infliction of emotional stress and other charges. In response, Mr. Johnson filed suit also alleging breach of fiduciary duty and graft by failing to pay even the minimal rent of $300.
A suit filed by Angelique Fawcette adds to the chaos. A friend of Ms. Nichols, she is opposing Mr. Johnson’s conservatorship and had been seeking visitation rights. In 2016 Mrs. Fawcette co-produced the Star Trek parody film Unbelievable! which featured Ms. Nichols and 39 other Star Trek actors.
Nichelle Nichols now lives in New Mexico with her son, and all sides claim that the legal battle has drained her financially. According to Mr. Bell, he was responsible for helping her recover financially starting in 2009 by getting her invited to attend more fan conventions to the tune of $10,000 to $50,000 depending on the size of the event. However, it cannot be discounted that the shutdown of public events such as pop culture conventions also contributed to her financial difficulties.
Con or Con?
Meanwhile, on the UhuraCon front, ticket buyers reported that convention organizers stopped updating them regarding the future of the event. Citing lack of communication, they have received refunds via their credit card companies.
She appeared on the list of celebrity guests for Star Trek Convention Las Vegas in August of 2021. However, that fell through with a relatively late cancellation before the event. Less than a month later, on Sept. 7 the event resurfaced. Organizers emailed out a statement saying that they were searching for a new venue and would announce in on the 17th of the month.
The announcement directed users to a website for “AtomiCon”, but it appeared to be no more than a placeholder – and rushed at that with security issues and no content.
But then, the somewhat dormant website for the original event Uhura.space, posted a new annnouncement. Ms. Nichol’s farewell event is to be part of a “Star Trek Experience”. This will be part of Los Angeles Comic Con. LA Comic Con, as it is known, runs Dec. 3-5 of this year.
Nichelle Nichols and Friends
The celebrity guest list includes her on-screen crewmate, Walter Koenig. Tim Russ, Tuvok, from Star Trek: Voyager is also attending. It could be said that another guest, Astronaut Dr. Mae Jamison, is part of Nichelle Nichol’s ongoing legacy of her work on Star Trek, and on behalf of NASA. Dr. Jamison cites Star Trek as inspiration for her becoming an astronaut.
In addition to admission to LA Comic Con, fans can also buy tickets for autographs, photographs and other experiences. Ticket prices for those range from $150 to $250. The $150 is for an autograph OR a photo with Ms. Nichols on a replica of the Enterprise’s bridge. For $250, the guest gets both.
Barring any last-minute plot twists, Nichelle Nichols will finally be able to have the party she wanted.