George Takei is a national treasure. A science fiction icon with a voice so deep and rich, and a heart so ginormous, that prejudice melts away in his presence, George is intent on doing his part to manifest the utopian society seen in Star Trek’s 23rd century. He’s gone from flying the Starship Enterprise through dark matter nebulae and battling Klingons to fighting for equality and navigating the highly politicized waters of gay rights in America. Now more popular than ever, his Facebook page has over 1 million passionate and engaged fans! It’s a Takei world, and we’re all just living in it!
So, besides general awesomeness, what’s so special about George Takei?
1. He’s living history
Born on April 20, 1937, in Los Angeles, George’s father, a lover of all things British, named him after the recently crowned King of England, George VI. Two years later, the world was at war. After the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, all people of Japanese descent living on the West Coast were forced into internment camps, including George’s family. The Takeis lost their home, business and most of their possessions. George traded in palm trees for barbed wire fences and a whole bunch of racism.
The experience made him very sensitive to the injustices of the world, a trait that he now uses to promote respect and equality for Japanese-Americans, the LGBT community, and Trekkies everywhere!
2. Duh, Star Trek!
For most of us, our first introduction to the glory of Takei was through Lt. Hikaru Sulu, physicist and pilot of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701. He was a badass officer, knew how to fight with a sword, and was really into botany and gymnastics. What a Renaissance Man! George became synonymous with Sulu, who was one of the first positive portrayals of an Asian man on American television. He took the responsibility very seriously, even insisting that Sulu be promoted to Captain of another starship, which finally happened in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Though it took him away from the main action onboard the Enterprise, he sacrificed the screen-time, arguing that it was ridiculous for an officer to stay at the same post for nearly 30 years.
This prompted much mocking from one William Shatner, who rarely refrained from pilfering a good bit of dialogue. George is an outspoken critic of his onscreen commanding officer. Known for being a diva on the set of the O.G. Star Trek series, Captain Kirk earned the enmity of several of his cast-mates. From Shatner claiming that Takei was secretly in love with him, to George proclaiming, “F**k you, and the horse you rode in on,” at the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner, their feud is endlessly entertaining.
Unlike many actors who were typecast after being in such an iconic series, George’s popularity exploded after Star Trek. One factor that makes him unforgettable are those incredible pipes! Forget Cee Lo and Christina, George Takei is the REAL Voice!
He’s also remarkably open and honest about his life and experiences. In 2005, he publicly came out as a gay man and began to actively campaign for marriage equality and an end to homophobia and prejudice. In 2008, George and his long-time partner, Brad Altman, were the first same-sex couple to apply for a marriage license in West Hollywood. They were married later that year, with Chekov and Uhura as Best Man and Matron of Honor, respectively. Not finished trailblazing yet, George and Brad were the first gay couple to ever compete on The Newlywed Game in its 40-plus year history. And they won!
In 2006, George was hired to be the official announcer of the Howard Stern Show on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio. This introduced him to a brand new audience, most of whom only knew him as Sulu. Sitting in the studio with a consummate interviewer (and Star Trek fan) like Stern has given George a huge platform to bring the audience into the life of a gay couple, and show them that it’s not that different from their own. From being unsatisfied with the frequency of his love-making (“Only on Sundays!”), to getting in trouble with his husband after lusting over some hot dudes, George’s infectious laugh and good cheer have utterly won over the Stern audience.
From internment camps to the vastness of space, George has always boldly gone where few people have gone before. George Takei, I salute you! Live long and prosper!