Whoopi Goldberg, moderator of The View, paused Monday to honor the celebrities who died this weekend. There were several, including NBA legend Bill Russell and comedic actress Pat Carroll.
But Goldberg, who is a huge sci-fi fan, took longer to pay tribute to Nichelle Nichols, who played the iconic Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trek. Call it a point of personal privilege for The View moderator. When Nichols, as Uhura, was trampling racial barriers in the 1960s, Goldberg was an elementary school girl named Caryn Johnson living in NYC. She dreamed of acting and of telling stories about distant galaxies.
“Nichelle was the first Black person I’d ever seen who made it to the future,” Goldberg said on The View. “She was head of communications (on the Starship Enterprise). This show and this woman was a beacon that said ‘yes, we’ll be there.’ And it just made me feel like that was an amazing thing, and she helped propel other women to go into space.”
Nichols died of natural causes, Saturday night, her son announced. She was 89. She’d been living with her son in New Mexico at the time of her death.
Nichols Was a Childhood Hero, Then Friend of The View Moderator
Goldberg had talked about Nichols before. She held her in great esteem. People want to see those who look like them on the big and small screens. Goldberg once remarked that watching Nichols as Uhura was the first time she saw a Black woman playing a character other than a maid.
Goldberg also counted Nichols as a friend. “I was lucky enough to spend time with her over the years,” The View moderator told the audience. “She was my friend, and she’ll be missed.”
Whoopi Goldberg Now Is Recurring Character Throughout Star Trek
We probably should add that Nichols and Goldberg were long-time members of the Star Trek family. Nichols was an original. She manned communications, getting in touch with both friends and enemies to put them through with Captain James T. Kirk. She was right alongside Kirk (William Shatner), Dr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Sulu (George Takei), Scotty (James Doohan), Bones McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and Chekov (Walter Koenig). The original Star Trek ran from 1966 to 1969. It heads up the sci-fi chapter in classic TV. And the series spawned so many movies and spinoffs. Audiences of all ages love the series.
And about that little girl who watched Uhura and took heart that a Black woman was in the future. Goldberg, long before she became the moderator for The View, found her way to the cast of Star Trek. She plays Guinan, a wise, empathetic bartender. Guinan is an alien who is several hundred years old. And she pours drinks in the Ten-Forward lounge on the U.S.S. Enterprise-D. Goldberg’s Guinan is a recurring character who has appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation; Star Trek: Picard; Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: Nemesis.