Mostly Credited As: George Takei
Sometimes Credited As: George Takai
Birth Name: George Hosato Takei
Date Of Birth: April 20, 1937 (Age 79)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: Los Angeles, California
Height: 5' 8" (1.72 m)
Although primarily known for playing Sulu in the original Star Trek (1966) television series and the first six features, George Takei has had a varied career acting in television, feature films and live theater. He also is a successful writer and community activist. His first-hand knowledge of the unjust internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans in WW II, poignantly chronicled in his autobiography, created a lifelong interest in politics and community affairs. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, George and his family were relocated from Los Angeles to Camp Rowar in Arkansas, and later, as the war was ending they were moved to a camp at Tule Lake in northern California.
After graduating from Los Angeles High School in 1956, George studied architecture at UC Berkeley. An ad in a Japanese community paper led to a summer job on the MGM lot dubbing eight characters from Japanese into English for Sora no daikaijû Radon (1956) (aka "Rodan"). With the acting bug kindled in him, he transferred to UCLA as a theater arts major. Contacting an agent he had met at MGM led to Takei's appearance as an embittered soldier in postwar Japan in the Playhouse 90 (1956) production "Made in Japan" even before starting classes at UCLA. Being spotted in a UCLA theater production by a Warner Bros. casting director led to George's feature film debut in Ice Palace (1960), various roles in Hawaiian Eye (1959) and other feature work. In June of 1960 he completed his degree at UCLA, and studied that summer at the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-Upon-Avon in England.
After starting a Master's degree program at UCLA, George was cast in the socially relevant stage musical production, Fly Blackbird! but was replaced when the show moved to New York. He took odd jobs until returning to his role at the end of the run. Getting little work in Manhattan, George returned to L.A. to continue his studies at UCLA, once again appearing in TV shows and feature films. He earned his MA degree in 1964. Wanting a multi-racial crew, Gene Roddenberry cast him in "Where No Man Has Gone Before," the second Star Trek (1966) pilot. Mr. Sulu remained as a regular character when the series went into production. In the hiatus after the end of shooting the first season he worked on The Green Berets (1968), playing a South Vietnamese Special Forces officer. After Star Trek was canceled, Takei did guest stints in several TV shows, voiced Sulu for the animated Star Trek series and regularly appeared at Star Trek conventions. He also produced and hosted a public affairs show, Expression East/West aired in Los Angeles from 1971 to 1973. In 1973 he ran for the Los Angeles City Council. Although he lost by a small margin, Mayor Tom Bradley appointed him to the board of directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit District, where he served until 1984 and contributed to plans for the subway. During this period he co-wrote a sci-fi novel, Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe. He campaigned to get more respect for his character in the Star Trek features, resulting in Sulu finally obtaining the rank of captain in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), a role reprised in a Star Trek: Voyager (1995) episode "Flashback"
George has run several marathons and was in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Torch Relay. He gained a star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame in 1986 and left his signature and hand print in cement at the Chinese Theater in 1991. His 1994 autobiography To the Stars was well-received by more than just Star Trek fans. He remains active as a stage, TV and film actor and as an advocate for the interests of Japanese-Americans.
In 2006, Takai came out revealing that he is gay, which has become a relief for the actor, and has come to embrace it in public.
Trivia George's Star on the Walk of Fame for his contributions to Television is located at 6681 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA, USA.
From January to February 1991, George appeared in the Philip Kan Gotanda play The Wash at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, California, USA.
From Oct - Dec, 2005, George played "Dr. Martin Dysart" in Peter Shaffer's Equus, in Los Angeles, CA, USA at the East West Players Theater.
In the early 1990's, George provided the voice of "Captain Hikaru Sulu" for several audio adventures based upon the adventures of the USS Excelsior.
George narrated several audio books based on Star Trek novels, including Strangers from the Sky and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
In the late 60s-early 70s George worked for 3 years as producer-host of Expression: East/West, a public affairs show on KNBC, Los Angeles.
George narrated the documentary Bruce Lee: Curse of the Dragon (1993).
George has been a jogger for many years, and runs marathons frequently.
George is a favorite of the Howard Stern audience.
George has stated that his favorite original Star Trek episode is "The Naked Time".
George Takei Quotes
George Takei: You know, it's not really coming out, ... It's more like a long, long walk through what began as a narrow corridor that starts to widen.
George Takei: The large popular normality is that rigid, constrained normality, ... But there's another natural normality. And you come to realize, 'This is who I am. And by gum, I'm not going to let it be a constraint!'
George Takei: I didn't want to talk about being in an internment camp, ... They would ask me, where was I? I would say I was far away...But I never went into details.
George Takei: We are going to make a stronger, better, truer democracy....We will boldly go where America has never gone before.
George Takei: We are part of the fabric of America, from U.S. senators to your schoolteacher to your local banker.