Happy 76th birthday to Star Trek‘s original Hikaru Sulu, George Hosato Takei, who was born on April 20th in 1937 in Los Angeles.
As an actor, politician, activist, and writer, Takei has had a career many would hope for but few achieve. He and his family were sent to relocation centers during World War II when he was only 5-years old. Certainly an austere beginning but one that led him to study architecture at UC Berkeley, to be followed by a B.A. in theater at UCLA and and then a Masters Degree in theater by 1964.
One of the few Asian-American faces to grace television in the 1950’s and 1960’s, George was fortunate to be a part of “the Golden Age” of television. On the big screen he was seen alongside Cary Grant, Alec Guinness, Star Trek‘s first captain, Jeffrey Hunter, James Caan and John Wayne in the 1968 classic, The Green Berets.
Of course, we all know of his casting in Star Trek giving Mr. Sulu performances of depth and imbibing a likability into the role. We also know even though we saw the helmsmen and future captain return throughout the decades, that would hardly be enough to sustain a career.
The tri-lingual Takei, (English, Japanese and Spanish,) almost became a Los Angeles City Councilman in 1972 and was appointed by L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley to sit on the board of directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit district.
Voice over work and TV guest appearances has kept him in the public spotlight as well as his relationship with The Howard Stern Show and his now famous “Oh my” catch phrase.
His work for gay rights has been going on for decades as his public fame allows him to be heard, seen and quoted by international media. In 2008, Takei and long time partner Brad Altman, married at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles – Takei is one of its founders.
Last year, we saw George get “fired” on The Celebrity Apprentice. Quite frankly, he has created a legacy far superior to “The Donald.”
In 2012, Takei starred in Allegiance, a musical based on Takei’s experience and research into the Japanese American internment during World War II.
So happy birthday, George! Something tells me you’ll make it a good one.
To keep up with George, you can follow him on Twitter at @GeorgeTakei.
Photo: Brian Wilkins