George Takei played Hikaru Sulu, the helm officer aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise on the original Star Trek series.
Takei was born in the Boyle Heights district of Los Angeles. He and his family lived there until World War II when, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, they were relocated to a detention camp in Arkansas. From there, they were again moved to another camp at Tule Lake in Northern California.
Takei went to college with thoughts of being an architect, but soon changed his major to Theater Arts. He graduated in 1960 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a minor in Latin American Studies.
Takei made his acting debut in a Playhouse 90 production when he was attending UCLA. While he was taking s, Takei also trained at the Desilu Workshop.
After a biking trip across Europe, George returned to California and began guest starring on series such as i>Perry Mason, Mr. Novak, Hawaiian Eye, I, Spy, It Takes a Thief and My Three Sons. Takei appeared in one Twilight Zone episode ("The Encounter"). It was aired once, but due to its controversial content regarding a Japanese traitor in WW II, it has never been shown again.
Takei first began his Star Trek adventure with "Where No Man Has Gone Before," which was the second pilot that finally sold the series. In that episode he was said to be a mathematician. Once the series went into weekly production, he became the helmsman and a part of the bridge crew. During the first season of Star Trek, Takei managed to make a guest appearance on Mission: Impossible, and, during the show's second season, took time off to film "The Green Berets" with John Wayne.
Takei's film debut was in Ice Palace with Richard Burton. It was a role that required a lot of make-up, as he was seen in various times throughout his life. After Star Trek was canceled, Takei did guest stints on many primetime series, including Kung Fu, The Six Million Dollar Man, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Miami Vice, and a dual role on the long-running series Hawaii Five-O.
In 1972, Takei was a California representative in the Democratic National Convention, and in the fall of 1973, he ran for Mayor of Los Angeles. He didn't win the election, but it did cause a local station to stop running Star Trek and the Star Trek animated series until after the votes were cast. Takei's competition felt that his voice and image on television every week created an unfair advantage for Takei.
In the '80s, Takei hosted an informational series for television called Expression East/West, which dealt with issues involving human relationships. Takei co-wrote (with Robert Asprin) the science fiction novel Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe. In 1994 he penned his memoirs in To the Stars.
In 2005 Takei created a media sensation when he came out to the press for the first time as a gay man, and revealed publicly that he has been in a committed relationship with his partner, Brad Altman, since 1987. Takei subsequently became a spokesman for the Human Right Campaign, championing legalized gay marriage and other issues of equality on behalf of the gay lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. At the same time, he freely made fun of himself and his newfound notoriety through guest spots on numerous TV shows such as Will & Grace.
Takei also surprised the world when his familiar baritone became the official "voice" of the new Howard Stern Show that premiered on Sirius Satellite Radio in January 2006.