'Star Trek' Icon Nichelle Nichols at Center of Legal Battle Over Dementia Diagnosis

Star Trek star Nichelle Nichols, who played Nyota Uhura in the original Star Trek series, is reportedly at the center of a legal battle over guardianship.

It was previously reported that Nichols has been diagnosed with dementia, but an individual describing herself as a friend of the actress has challenged that notion, accusing Nichols’ son, Kyle Johnson, of trying to exert undue control over his 85-year-old mother.

According to TMZ, Angelique Fawcette has filed legal documents claiming that Nichols wrote a note to her son in March 2017 informing him that she wants to amend her will after he told Nichols, “I can't wait to get rid of this sh*t and sell [your] house and property."

Fawcette also claims that the dementia diagnosis is illegitimate because the doctor who examined Nichols, Dr. Meena Makhijani, is not a trained psychiatrist and lacks the necessary qualifications to make such a diagnosis.

Fawcette goes on to say in the legal documents that she has observed Nichols regularly performing daily tasks without assistance, and claims that the most help Nichols has ever needed is an occasional reminder that a bill is due.

Makhijani is Nichols’ geriatrician and the doctor’s initial report suggested that Nichols was suffering from “moderate progressive dementia” and that her symptoms include “major impairment of her short-term memory and moderate impairment of understanding abstract concepts, sense of time, place and immediate recall.”

Johnson claims to have had his mother examined for the condition because others had been taking advantage of Nichols’ impaired mental state, saying that these individuals “unduly exerted themselves into Ms. Nichols' life to her detriment.”

The result of the dementia diagnosis is that four conservators now have control of financial and health-related decisions for Nichols. Fawcette is seeking to challenge that conservatorship.

Unfortunately, these kinds of contentious legal battles over the elderly are becoming more and more common. Stan Lee has found himself in similar straits and Nichols’ Star Trek co-star William Shatner recently appeared on an episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver during a segment intended to raise awareness of guardianship issues.

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Nichols has remained active at conventions as recently as this summer, appearing at San Diego Comic-Con in July, where she received a surprise lifetime achievement award, and at Star Trek Las Vegas in early August. She also appeared at a convention in September 2017, where she spoke to ComicBook.com about the future of Star Trek her own work with NASA.

“They hired me to recruit the first woman and minority [for the space shuttle program],” Nichols said. “They had heard me say ‘There are no minorities; I know dozens [who would be able to serve],’ and they said, ‘Find me one who will fit this criteria and we will hire a dozen.’ And I’ll be darned if they didn’t have to hire a dozen. They wrote me after that and said, ‘We thank you very much, you were right, we’re carrying on with everybody; if they’re qualified, they’re with us.'”