Stars Return to the Universe
Creatives leave their gifts for their fans to enjoy, appreciate and remember
Lately it seems that whenever I check my social media pages there’s an announcement of a celebrity death.
Over the weekend it was announced that actor Roger E. Mosley, known to 80s TV fans as T.C. on “Magnum, P.I.,” died from injuries sustained in a car accident August 4th. A week ago, we lost NBA legend Bill Russell and Hollywood icon, television groundbreaking actress and dancer Nichelle Nichols from “Star Trek.
It was while on break from my job today that I read about the passing of singer, songwriter and actress Olivia Newton-John. Best known for her role as Sandra Dee/Sandy in the timeless movie musical, ‘Grease,’ Newton-John’s voice is eternally sealed in the movie’s soundtrack with hits like, ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You,” and “You’re the One That I Want,” her duet with ‘Grease’ costar John Travolta.
The Australian songstress would also extend her mark in the music charts with the catchy ‘Let’s Get Physical,” filled with sexual metaphors blended with the aerobic dance exercise craze. Other memorable songs include “Xanadu,” from the motion picture of the same name, “Have You Ever Been Mellow” and “I Honestly Love You.”
Newton-John battled and survived breast cancer over the years since she was 43 years old. She died peacefully in her home surrounded by family.
Mosley, 83, was a veteran TV and movie actor. His mark in television history is his character Theodore ‘T.C.’ Calvin, the helicopter flying entrepreneur on the original, “Magnum, P.I.” It’s said that Mosley had his character’s background reversed; instead of a broke, struggling Black man living in Hawaii, T.C. would own a fleet of helicopters. T.C. was a hardworking businessman, making money, and it was Magnum who’d ask for an occasional loan. Mosley also appeared in blaxploitation films like, ‘The Mack.’ He was also memorable as a bluesman in the movie ‘Leadbelly.’
Miss Nichols, an ageless beauty, was a dancer and student of the great Katherine Dunham. But it was her debut as Lt. Nyota Uhura on the television series, ‘Star Trek’ that turned Nichols into a symbol of Black women in television. She played a Black woman who was part of a team of leaders on the Starship Enterprise. Uhura was a woman not to be played with, nor disrespected by the fleet. Nichols’ character was a sistah deeply involved in STEM before it became an acronym. She made such a difference that when Nichols made the decision to quit the show to star in a Broadway play, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a fan of ‘Star Trek,’ told her that she could not. ‘Star Trek’ was the ONLY show the family watched and that King allowed the children to watch. He added that Nichols’ Uhura represented a Black person doing something outside of stereotypical roles.
Nichols starred in many movies, including the movie renditions of the Star Trek series. Nichols also partnered with NASA in recruiting African-American students and women.
Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell’s legacy included being one of the greatest NBA players of all time. In Russell’s 13 years with the Celtics, he won 11 championships. He was also the first Black NBA head coach when he replaced Celtics coach Red Auerbach in 1967. Russell was also a civil rights activist, which would earn him a Presidential Medal of Freedom years later in 2011.
Through news of these transitions many of us posted memories as fans and admirers. Many other creatives have passed away over the summer and we will always cherish their talents forever.
Lisa D. DeNeal is a freelance writer and author from Gary, IN. Her books include, Unflappable with Carolyn E. Mosby, The Panthers Club with Alethea (Sheryl) Pascascio, Dead Lies and Extra! Extra! Love!