Trilingual civil rights activist and all-around awesome human being who also happened to play Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek the Original Series.
George Hosato Takei was born in 1937 in California. During his childhood, he and his family were sent to World War II internment camps for Japanese Americans. It was there that young Takei's desire to act was born: the camp would screen Japanese movies for the internees, and there would be a single man off to the side of the projection screen providing an English dubbed voice for all the characters. Takei wanted to be that guy.
Returning to Los Angeles after this, Takei and his family endured residual hatred for Japanese-Americans that lingered after World War II; they also moved into a primarily Latino neighborhood, where Takei picked up fluency in Spanish. He would go on to minor in Latino studies in college.
In the 1960s he made appearances on shows like Mission Impossible and The Twilight Zone. But it was his groundbreaking role as Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek that made him a cultural icon, as one of the first and only non-stereotypical Asian characters on mainstream American television. Reportedly every Asian-American actor wanted the role, since Sulu had no accent, didn't do martial arts, and was not a crude caricature (remember: this was more or less contemporary with the yellowface characters in Breakfast at Tiffany's and Charlie Chan). He would go on to portray Sulu in Star Trek the Animated Series, in six subsequent Star Trek movies, and on Star Trek Voyager. He also co-starred in an episode of the fan work Star Trek New Voyages.
After Star Trek, he ran for City Council in Los Angeles, losing by only about 1500 votes. However, his civic hopes were not in vain, as he would later be appointed to the board of directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit District.
In the 2000s, Takei gained new fame by appearing regularly on Howard Stern's radio show, giving birth to his own Memetic Mutation: "Ohhhhhh my." He also appeared as Hiro's dad on Heroes and voiced animated Asian characters such as the Fa ancestor from Mulan, a Fire nation jailor in Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the Asian-esque Master Yoketron, Prowl's cyber-ninja mentor, on Transformers Animated. Also, he played Emperor Yoshiro, leader of the Empire of the Rising Sun in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3.
In 2006, he officially came out of the closet as a gay man, although many of his friends and family had long known this. In 2008, he married his partner of twenty years, journalist Brad Altman. Takei continues to be an advocate for civil rights, gay rights and Asian-American issues. In 2012, he starred in the musical Allegiance, which deals with World War II internment of Japanese Americans.
He has a huge Facebook following. As of March 23, 2012, his page has nearly 1.4 million followers.
This actor provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adam Westing: And he'll more or less freely admit to it.
- Audio Erotica: Arguably his signature, and directly parodied in Futurama.
- Berserk Button: Not a fan of William Shatner.
- Camp Gay: When he's Adam Westing.
- Catch Phrase: "Ohhhhh my."
- Cool Old Guy
- Enemy Mine: States that Star Trek and Star Wars fans should unite against a greater threat.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Invoked by Takei by lending his name as an Unusual Euphemism to teachers in Tennessee to get around the state's "Don't Say Gay" bill. (Which, since it was his own name he used as a substitute, certainly didn't hurt from a self-promotion standpoint.)
- Grandpa What Massive Hotness You Have: He's 74, and has aged very gracefully.
- Happily Married
- Husband Husbandry: Joked about his husband being a bit younger than he is: "If you can't find a good man, raise one."
- Informed Ability: At first. He tells a story of how, when getting cast for Star Trek, he claimed to know how to fence. When he got the part, he went out and learned it to live up to his word.
- Large Ham
- Late Night With David Letterman: Takei narrated Chris Elliot: Television Miracle.
- Missing Episode: Takei's The Twilight Zone episode "The Encounter" was one of five episodes not syndicated until the early 90s.
- Mood Whiplash: Takei's Twitter account alternates between social activism and gleefully Dirty Old Man jokes. Which arguably makes it funnier to follow.
- Sometimes he hits both nails on the head:
- My Name Is Not Durwood: It's "Ta-kay" not "Ta-kai" as he delighted in pointing out to William Shatner during the latter's roast.
My name is George Ta-kay. Not Ta-kai, as you've insisted on calling me for forty fucking years! George Ta-kaaayyyyy. Rhymes with toupeé.
- Not What It Sounds Like: Takei, upon hearing he would have a Shirtless Scene in the Star Trek episode "The Naked Time," immediately started working out.
"During the next few days, people walking past my dressing room may have wondered what sort of nefarious activity might be going on inside that was making the portable structure rock with such sensuous rhythm. Whatever wild imaginings they might have had, the truth was that I was pumping up the pectorals for my shirtless fencing scenes with a conscientious push-ups regimen."
- One of Us: Of course he was on Star Trek, but he also makes posts like these.
- He's also a fan of anime, such as Akira. And even he is pissed off about the upcoming live-action adaptation.
- Pungeon Master: His Facebook page, which usually contains at least one Incredibly Lame Pun per post.
- Sophisticated As Hell: In his latest anti-bullying video:
"No person, let alone an elected school official, whatever their personal or religious beliefs, should ever wish death upon another human being. You apologised for your 'poor choice in words', but you are always going to be a total douchebag."
- Straight Gay
- Word of Gay: Inverted. After he came out of the closet, many people assumed Takei's character Sulu was also gay. But Takei himself has claimed in interviews that Sulu was/is/will be straight.