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George Takei (/təˈkeɪ/, tə-KAY; born Hosato Takei (武井 穂郷, Takei Hosato) April 20, 1937) is a Japanese-American actor, voice actor, author and activist known for his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the fictional starship USS Enterprise in the television series Star Trek and subsequent films.

Takei was born to Japanese American parents, with whom he lived in U.S.-run internment camps during World War II. He began pursuing acting in college, which led in 1965 to the role of Sulu, to which he returned periodically into the 1990s. Upon coming out as gay in 2005, he became a prominent proponent of LGBT rights and active in state and local politics. He has been a vocal advocate of the rights of immigrants, in part through his work on the 2012 Broadway show Allegiance, about the internment experience.

Early life[]

Although Takei was born and raised in California, he spoke both English and Japanese growing up and remains fluent in both languages. He has won several awards and accolades for his work on human rights and Japan–United States relations, including his work with the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California.

Takei was born Hosato Takei on April 20, 1937, in Los Angeles, California, to Japanese American parents Fumiko Emily Nakamura (born in Sacramento, California) and Takekuma Norman Takei (born in Yamanashi Prefecture), who worked in real estate. His father named him George after King George VI of the United Kingdom, whose coronation took place in 1937, shortly after Takei's birth. In 1942, following the signing of Executive Order 9066, the Takei family was forced to live in the converted horse stables of Santa Anita Park before being sent to the Rohwer War Relocation Center for internment in Rohwer, Arkansas. The internment camp was in swamplands and surrounded by barbed wire fences. The family was later transferred to the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in California for internment.

Takei had several relatives living in Japan during World War II. Among them, he had an aunt and infant cousin who lived in Hiroshima and who were both killed during the atomic bombing that destroyed the city. In Takei's own words, "My aunt and baby cousin [were] found burnt in a ditch in Hiroshima." At the end of World War II, after leaving Tule internment camp, Takei's family were left without any bank accounts, home or family business; this left them unable to find any housing, so they lived on Skid Row, Los Angeles for five years. He attended Mount Vernon Junior High School and served as Boys Senior Board President at Los Angeles High School. He was a member of Boy Scout Troop 379 of the Koyasan Buddhist Temple.

Upon graduation from high school, Takei enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied architecture. Later, he transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in theater in 1960 and a Master of Arts in theater in 1964. He also attended the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-upon-Avon in England and Sophia University in Tokyo. In Hollywood, he studied acting at the Desilu Workshop.


Takei began his career in Hollywood in the late 1950s, providing voiceover for characters in the English dubbing of the Japanese monster films Rodan (1956, US: 1957) and Godzilla Raids Again (1955, US: Gigantis the Fire Monster, 1959). He appeared in the anthology television series Playhouse 90, the Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Blushing Pearls" (both 1959), and a handful of times in Hawaiian Eye during the 1960–61 season, including an eponymous episode as Thomas Jefferson Chu. He originated the role of George in the musical Fly Blackbird!, but when the show traveled from Los Angeles to Off-Broadway the West Coast actors were forced to audition and the role went to William Sugihara instead. Eventually Sugihara had to give up the role and Takei closed out the show's final months.

Takei subsequently appeared alongside such actors as Frank Sinatra in Never So Few (uncredited, 1959), Richard Burton in Ice Palace, Jeffrey Hunter in Hell to Eternity (1960), Alec Guinness in A Majority of One (1961), James Caan in Red Line 7000 (1965), and Cary Grant in Walk, Don't Run (1966).

He starred as a landscaper of Japanese descent in "The Encounter", a 1964 episode of the Twilight Zone. CBS considered the episode's theme of US-Japanese hatred "too disturbing" to include when the series was syndicated. "The Encounter" was not seen after its initial airing until it was released on video in 1992 as part of the Treasures of the Twilight Zone collection.

Takei guest-starred in an episode of Mission: Impossible during that show's first season in 1966. He also appeared in two Jerry Lewis comedies, The Big Mouth (uncredited, 1967) and Which Way to the Front? (1970). Takei narrated the documentary The Japanese Sword as the Soul of the Samurai (1969).


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