George Hosato Takei (武井 穂郷 Takei Hosato?, /təˈkeɪ/ tə-kay; April 20, 1937) is an American actor and author, best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise in the television seriesStar Trek. He also portrayed the character in six Star Trek feature films and in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. He is a proponent of gay rights and active in state and local politics as well as continuing his acting career. He has won several awards and accolades in his work on human rights and Japanese–American relations, including his work with the Japanese American National Museum.
Takei was born in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, California to Japanese American parents, Fumiko Emily (née Nakamura; born in Sacramento) and Takekuma Norman Takei (born in San Francisco), who worked in real estate. His father was an Anglophile, and named him George after George VI of the United Kingdom, whose coronation took place in 1937. In 1942, the Takei family was forced to live in the horse stables of Santa Anita Park before being sent to the Rohwer War Relocation Center for internment in Rohwer, Arkansas. The family was later transferred to the Tule Lake War Relocation Centerin California. He and his family returned to Los Angeles at the end of World War II. He attended Mount Vernon Junior High School, where he served as student body president, and 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 attended 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 attended the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-upon-Avon in England, and Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan. In Hollywood, he studied acting at the Desilu Workshop.
Takei began his career in Hollywood in the late 1950s, at a time when Asians were rarely cast in American television shows and movies. His first role was providing voiceover for several characters in the English dub of Japanese monster films such as Godzilla Raids Again and Rodan, followed by an appearance in the Emmy award winning television series Playhouse 90 and Perry MasonThe Case of the Blushing Pearls. Takei subsequently appeared alongside such actors as Richard Burton in Ice Palace, Jeffrey Hunter in Hell to Eternity, Alec Guinness in A Majority of One, James Caan inRed Line 7000 and Cary Grant in Walk, Don’t Run. He featured in a lead role in “The Encounter” (1964), an episode of The Twilight Zone which is not syndicated in the United States.
He had an uncredited role in the film PT-109 (1963) as the helmsman who steers the Japanese destroyer over John F. Kennedy‘s Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109. He guested in an episode of Mission: Impossible (1966) during that show’s first season. He also appeared in two Jerry Lewis comedies, The Big Mouth and Which Way to the Front?