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Japanese-American actor George Takei played Lieutenant Sulu in the original Star Trek television series and movies and is a popular social-media presence.
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Born on April 20, 1937, in Los Angeles, California, George Takei overcame the racial barriers of his time to launch a successful acting career. He starred as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu during the three-year television run of Star Trek, and later reprised the role for six movies. Prominently involved with gay rights and Japanese-American groups, Takei has become a highly popular social-media presence.
"Since I was a little boy, I was a ham. And there's a ham in everybody. Some of us are just better cured than others."
George Hosato Takei was born on April 20, 1937, in Los Angeles, California. At the age of 5, he and his family were uprooted from their home and forced to live at Japanese internment camps in Arkansas and northern California. They returned to Los Angeles after World War II, and Takei enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley to study architecture.
While in college, George Takei responded to a newspaper ad looking for Asian voiceover actors for the English version of the Japanese monster movie Rodan (1956). That led to more voiceover work, as well as small parts in television programs such as Perry Mason and the film Ice Palace (1960). Deciding to focus on acting full time, Takei transferred to the University of California Los Angeles, where he earned both a bachelor's and master's degree in theater.
In 1966, Takei became one of the few Asian Americans to be featured prominently on TV when he starred as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu on the science-fiction series Star Trek. He returned after taking time off during the second season to film The Green Berets (1968), but his role as Sulu was temporarily shelved when Star Trek was canceled in 1969.
Takei continued to make regular TV appearances in the 1970s, on such programs as The Six Million Dollar Man and Hawaii Five-O, while providing the voice of Sulu for the Star Trek animated series. Momentum gathered for the making of the movie, and Takei reunited with the rest of his old castmates for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and five sequels over the next dozen years.
The 1990s brought a steady stream of voiceover gigs, with Takei's signature baritone surfacing in the Disney animated feature Mulan (1998) and episodes of The Simpsons. The veteran actor also became a semi-regular guest on the Howard Stern Show, and in 2006, he was named Stern's official announcer following the shock-jock's move to Sirius XM Radio.
Takei was involved in a project close to his heart when he took on a starring role in Allegiance, a production about the World War II internment of Japanese Americans. The play premiered at San Diego's Old Globe Theater in September 2012.
Takei has remained a busy man away from show business. After narrowly losing his bid for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council in 1973, he joined the board of directors for the Southern California Transit District from 1973 to 1984.
Takei served on the board of the Japan-United States Friendship Commission for President Bill Clinton, and was conferred with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan in 2004. He is also chairman emeritus of the Japanese American National Museum's board of trustees and serves as chair of the council of governors of East West Players, a renowned Asian-American theater organization.
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Learn more about the stars of the wildly popular Star Trek television and film franchise. Created by Gene Roddenberry in the early 1960s, this otherworldly series debuted on the small screen in '66 and has since seen dozens of installments, most recently the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), starring Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Chris Hemsworth and Zachary Quinto. Learn more about other cast members of the franchise, including William Shatner, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton, George Takei, Kirstie Alley and Winona Ryder. Who knows, you might even discover your inner-Trekkie.
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Lot of actors play politicians on the big and small screens, but few have made the transition in real life. At every level of government, there are actors who have used their charisma, good looks, and personalities to get the policies they support enacted. Though Hollywood has a reputation as a city of liberals, many conservative actors have been members of the Republican party. From Ronald Reagan to Sonny Bono, here's a look at famous actors who went on to careers in politics.
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