Hollywood legend Nichelle Nichols allegedly suffered elder abuse from a former caretaker, and now her family has launched a GoFundMe campaign to financially support a lawsuit filed on the Star Trek star's behalf. As most Trekkies will know, Nichols famously played Nyota Uhura in the original Star Trek series along with its many movie sequels. The 87-year-old's performance was also considered to be groundbreaking at the time, as Nichols was one of the first Black actresses to be featured in a major television series in a prominent role.
The new GoFundMe page was organized by Nichols' younger sister, Marian Smothers, on behalf of the family. As explained on the page, the family alleges a former caretaker named Gilbert Bell first came into contact with Nichelle Nichols about ten years ago when Bell promised her a starring movie role. "Slowly, deliberately, and methodically, Bell insinuated himself into her life. He convinced her to allow him to move into the second house on her property adjacent to her residence as they worked on the project that never happened, Marian explains, noting that Bell "still lives in the house under a fraudulent lease" while having Nichols continue to pay all of his utility bills.
"In 2013, Nichelle was in a very weakened state following a hospitalization," the GoFundMe page also states, alleging Bell had scammed at least a million dollars out of Nichols. "Knowing that her immediate family members mostly lived outside of California, Bell took advantage of the situation to obtain her signature on medical and general Powers of Attorney. Over time, as he continued to gain influence, fees from her many personal appearances, and even her pension and Social Security, began to disappear."
When the family became privy to what was happening with Nichols' financial situation, they filed for a Petition for Conservatorship, resulting in Nichols' only child, Kyle Johnson, to take over as her fulltime caregiver. Still, as the family has stated, major damage seems to have already been done. Marian also says Bell has been slandering Kyle's name in various publications as a retaliatory measure for getting the boot. This has resulted in ongoing legal fees to defend Nichols and her son's conservatorship, including a counter-suit filed against Bell. This brings about the GoFundMe page, which has been designed to give Nichols' family the funds they need to get justice for the Star Trek franchise star and ensure Bell can be removed from her life forever.
Fortunately, the campaign looks to be very successful so far. As of this writing, the crowdfunding campaign has earned over $36,000 in donations with an overall goal of $100,000. With social media shares and continued donations pouring in, that number seems to be climbing rapidly as fans across the world are eager to help Nichols. Hopefully, the result of the legal battle will put an end to Nichols' issues with Bell once and for all when all is said and done. You can find out more information about the campaign and donate to the cause by visiting GoFundMe.