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George Takei

George Takei is an American actor who portrayed Sulu, helmsman of the Starship Enterprise, on TV's Star Trek (1966-69) and again in several popular Star Trek motion pictures beginning in 1979.

In addition to his acting career, he's worked as a guest announcer on The Howard Stern Show and was active in the public affairs of Los Angeles. As a longtime member of the board of directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit District, he was instrumental in the creation of the Los Angeles subway system.

George Takei
George Takei
Biographical fast facts

Full or original name at birth: George Hosato Takei

Date and place of birth: April 20, 1937, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. *

Date, place and cause of death: (Alive as of 2012)

Marriage
Spouse: Brad Altman (m. September 14th, 2008 - present)
Wedding took place at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California.

Parents
Father: Takekuma Norman Takei (b. Yamanashi, Japan - d. September 1979)
Mother: Fumiko Emily Takei (b. September 29, 1912, Florin, near Sacramento, California - d. May 25, 2002, Los Angeles, California)


Error corrections or clarifications

* Several sources erroneously report George Takei was born in "1939" while others mistakenly claim "1940" was his year of birth. There are also a few erroneous reports regarding his name.

George specifically addressed his name, and date of birth in his autobiography, To the Stars: The Autobiography of George Takei, Pocket Books, published in 1994.
"But they knew joy again at the birth of a healthy boy on April 20, 1937. This baby, so precious after the loss of their firstborn, became the center of their lives, the most important being in their world. He needed a fitting name. To them, this baby was as great as a prime minister, even a king. As an Anglophile, an admirer of things English, my father therefore had a choice between Neville and George. He and Fumiko Emily -- whom he had decided to call "Mama" from then on, and she would call him "Daddy" -- settled on the royal choice. The baby was named George, for King George VI of England. They chose Hosato, Japanese for "Village of the Bountiful Harvest," for his Japanese middle name."


Biography - Credits - Hobbies

Born to Takekuma Norman Takei and Fumiko Emily Takei in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, George was the eldest of three children. A year after his birth, brother Henry came along, followed by sister Nancy Reiko Takei, two years later. Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor -- precipitating U.S. involvement in World War II -- the Takei (pronounced Tah-'KAY, not Tah-'KI) family, along with other Japanese-Americans living in the western United States, were relocated to Japanese interment facilities. He would spend the next few years in various Japanese interment camps around the United States.

After high school, George Takei enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley to study architecture. He had acted in grammar school skits, and junior high school drama clubs, but it wasn't until his college years that he was truly bitten by the acting bug. It wasn't long before he gave up his study of architecture at Berkeley, and transferred to UCLA to focus his studies on drama. He was still in college when he began winning television and feature film roles. Takei graduated with a BA in theater, June 9th, 1960, and would later receive his master's degree in theater in 1964.

The role that would dominate his life, came courtesy of producer Gene Roddenberry. Though the television series
Star Trek remained on the air for just three years (1966-69), the show developed a massive cult following when it was rerun in syndication. In 1973, this led to an animated cartoon series, Star Trek (a.k.a. Star Trek: The Animated Series), for which the original Star Trek actors provided the voices. Later, a series of successful Star Trek motion pictures was produced.

George Takei made the news in October of 2005, when it was reported he came out as a homosexual. In point of fact, he had been "out" for quite some time. Many devoted
Star Trek fans had known he was gay, as did most friends and many of his co-workers. But it came as news to the general public, and was touted in headlines around the world. It was a stage role in Equus that helped inspire him to publicly discuss his sexuality. "The world has changed from when I was a young teen feeling ashamed for being gay," the Star Trek actor said. "The issue of gay marriage is now a political issue. That would have been unthinkable when I was young." Takei served as national spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign's Coming Out Project, a program designed to help gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people come out and live openly. Since publicly addressing his homosexuality, he has been an eloquent speaker on the subject of tolerance and gay rights.

He was also heavily involved in civic affairs, and even ran for public office in Los Angeles. George ran for a spot on the Los Angeles City Council in 1973, losing by a very small margin. Mayor Tom Bradley appointed Takei to serve on the board of directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit District (RTD) during the period they would vote to create the Los Angeles subway system. He continued to serve on the board for eleven years (1973-84), and eventually saw his dream come to fruition, when the subway system was actually built.

He had the following to say about his
Star Trek co-stars: "Leonard Nimoy and I are political compatriots and we found ourselves working together for the same candidates in the same issues. Jimmy Doohan, another Canadian from Vancouver, is my favorite drinking buddy. Nichelle, because I put together a lot of fundraising dinners. Nichelle, is someone I can always call on to be our headline entertainer. She's very generous with her talent. Walter Koenig is a good buddy, as I said. He's the one that I keep in closest touch with."

Regarding his, and some other
Star Trek cast members' dislike of William Shatner, he said: "But like any large, extensive family, there is that "Uncle Jack" that you can't stand and we do have "Uncle Jack" in "Uncle Bill." But he is a member of the family and you develop some kind of way of working and living with each other for the three months that you're together making the film. Although I must say, he does make it very difficult." As the 40th anniversary of the cult series approached in 2006, an anticipated reunion of the surviving cast members was said to be out of the question. Continuing animosity between the supporting cast, and William Shatner, was reportedly the reason. Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura on the show, confirmed that Shatner was "an insensitive, hurtful egotist." Even after appearing on Comedy Central's 2006 Roast of William Shatner, George reported the bitterness remained. "Well, Bill is a complicated, fascinating and charismatic guy, but he also has his blind spot: He just doesn't seem to see how obsessively self-involved he is," the actor explained. "When we do conventions together, I keep thinking to myself, 'Why are you so rude to the fans?' He can be so charming and gracious, but I see it's patently put on when he wants something from you."

In 2007, an asteroid located between Mars and Jupiter was named in George Takei's honor. Two Japanese astronomers had discovered the asteroid, which was known as 1994 GT9, back in 1994. Dr. Tom Burbine, astronomer at Mt. Holyoke College, proposed the name change in recognition of Takei's humanitarian work and social activism. The International Astronomical Union's Committee for Small Body Nomenclature approved the change, officially renaming the asteroid 7307 Takei.

When the California Supreme Court struck down a ban on same-sex marriage in 2008, George and his long-term life partner, Brad Altman, were among the first gay couples to obtain a marriage license. Three months later, they were married at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles. The couple, who had been together more than two decades, exchanged vows they had written themselves, before a Buddhist priest in a multicultural ceremony. His
Star Trek castmates -- Walter Koenig, who played Chekhov, and Nichelle Nichols who portrayed Uhura -- both participated in the September 14, 2008 ceremony.

Selected film credits:
George Takei appeared alongside some of the biggest names in entertainment, including Richard Burton in the movie
Ice Palace (1960), Alec Guinness in A Majority of One (1962), Cary Grant in Walk Don't Run (1966), and John Wayne in The Green Berets (1968).

Other film credits include,
Red Line 7000 (1965), Which Way to the Front? (1970), Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), Mulan (1998), Mulan II (2004), and Larry Crowne (2011).

Selected TV guest appearances:
Takei's impressive list of television guest appearances stretches back to the 1950s, and includes,
Playhouse 90, Perry Mason, Hawaiian Eye, The Twilight Zone, The Wackiest Ship in the Army, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, I Spy, My Three Sons, Mission: Impossible, Felony Squad, It Takes a Thief, O'Hara, U.S. Treasury, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Kung Fu, The Six Million Dollar Man, Hawaii Five-O, Chico and the Man, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Vega$, Trapper John, M.D., Matt Houston, MacGyver, Murder, She Wrote, Miami Vice, The Simpsons, Star Trek: Voyager, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Early Edition, Diagnosis Murder, Grosse Pointe, Scrubs, Freddie, Heroes, Secret Talents of the Stars, Cory in the House, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, The Suite Life on Deck, Glenn Martin, DDS, The Big Bang Theory, Supah Ninjas and Celebrity Apprentice.

Hobbies/sidelines:
In addition to his acting, Takei was involved in real estate development, enjoyed jogging/running, architecture, and historic preservation. He also completed several marathons and had the honor of carrying the Olympic Flame in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Torch Relay. His husband, Brad Altman, was also an avid runner.


Sources

The most in-depth of more than three dozen sources consulted for this profile, was his autobiography, To the Stars: The Autobiography of George Takei, (1994).


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