Star Trek Vet Whoopi Goldberg Shares Heartfelt Response To Nichelle Nichols' Death On The View

Whoopi Goldberg in The View
(Image credit: ABC)

July 2022 came to quite the melancholy end with three icons from the entertainment world having respectively passed away. Emmy/Grammy winner and Little Mermaid voice star Pat Carroll passed away at 95, while the legendary NBA great Bill Russell died at 88. The weekend also saw the death of Star Trek trailblazer Nichelle Nichols, who succumbed to heart failure at the age of 89, sparking many a Trek fan to share kind words celebrating the Uhura portrayer and her groundbreaking work. The View moderator and Star Trek: The Next Generation vet Whoopi Goldberg took the time during Monday morning’s episode to pay her personal respects to Nichols for being such an inspiration.

Around the midway point of the August 1 episode of The View, Whoopi Goldberg and her fellow panelists — Joy Behar, Sara Haines and guest host Ana Navarro — reflected on the aforementioned deaths, with Navarro paying her own personal tribute to Bill Russell. Before that, though, Goldberg paid tribute to Nichelle Nichols for being a genre catalyst that led to the comedian joining the Star Trek franchise (which she returned to in 2022 for Star Trek: Picard’s second season). In Goldberg’s words:

Actress and Star Trek legend Nichelle Nichols was a trailblazer, a heroine, and an extraordinary woman. Someone who inspired millions and millions of people, but inspired me, because I explained when I went to get my gig at Star Trek that Nichelle was the first Black person I'd ever seen that made it to the future. And she wasn't somebody who looked like she was doing it; she was head of communications.

While racial and gender diversity in Hollywood is still nowhere near optimal levels, regardless of genre, it’s not impossible to believe we may never have seen Walking Dead alum Sonequa Martin-Green becoming the franchise’s first Black female captain had Nichelle Nichols not been cast alongside Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner in the original Star Trek TV series. Nichols, who did indeed give Martin-Green her blessing ahead of Discovery’s debut, is often celebrated specifically for sharing in TV’s first interracial kiss (between Uhura and Kirk) in 1968, but that presumably wasn’t nearly as inspiring to Black sci-fi fans as her being such a prominent crew member in the first place. 

Whoopi Goldberg continued, telling The View’s audience:

This show and this woman was the one 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. She was extraordinary, and I was lucky enough to spend time with her over the years. She was my friend and...she'll be missed. That's what I can say, she'll be highly missed.

In the end, Goldberg seemed to get a little choked up as she tried to find the right words, but she definitely made her point loud and clear. Nichelle Nicholas was a pioneer for portraying a Black woman both in outer space, and in the future, which is still something of a relative rarity within science fiction even today. And every time her influence leads someone else to strive for more in their own lives, the world becomes that much better of a place to live.

The View, which was hit with a cease and desist warning a week prior due to comments Whoopi Goldberg made, airs weekday mornings on ABC at 11:00 a.m. ET. Head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are heading to the small screen soon.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.