April 20th is an important date for Star Trek fans – it’s George Takei’s 84th birthday today!
Let’s take a minute to salute civil rights activist and Star Trek actor George Takei’s long and illustrious career.
Dr. Takei has worked for years for LGBTQ rights and human rights in general. He was granted an honorary doctorate by CSULA in 2016. He received a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1986. Asteroid 7307 Takei was named after him in 1994. He has won numerous awards for his acting and his work to honor human rights and his ethnic heritage.
|Hikaru Sulu||Star Trek franchise|
|Captain Nim||The Green Berets|
|Arthur Takamori||Twilight Zone, “The Encounter”|
|Alpha Trio||Transformers Prime|
Of course these are just some of the geeky highlights. Takei has appeared in over 200 productions for both movies and television playing roles or voice acting, and a surprising additional 165 appearances just as himself.
We Tremble in Awe at his Ninjosity
In addition to playing ninjas on TV several times, he co-wrote, Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe with SF/F author Robert Asprin, a science fiction novel about a space ninja. He’s also written an autobiography, To the Stars, collaberated on They Called Us Enemy, a book about his childhood as a nativeborn US citizen in an American concentration camp, and two books about his successful role as an Iinternet icon, Oh Myyy! and Lions and Tigers and Bears.
Dr. Takei is the Internet’s beloved “Uncle George,” an honorary uncle using his fame and his sense of humor to relay his more serious messages.
And of course, Star Trek …
By far the single biggest impression Takei has made has been as Lt. Hakiru Sulu, helmsman of the Starship Enterprise – who somehow found himself on one away mission after another, and eventually reaching the rank of Captain and given his own command.
As with the other characters of the original Starship Enterprise, Takei’s character developed a long and illustrious story arc of its own.
Sulu reached the rank of Captain and served aboard the Excelsior in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Captain Sulu and the Excelsior later played a key role in the Khitomer Peace Conference of 2293 by assisting the U.S.S. Enterprise-A in its battle with General Chang’s prototype Bird-of-Prey and by preventing the assassination of Klingon Chancellor Azetbur.
Takei said of his role on Star Trek:
Getting cast as Lt Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek was life changing. The show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, told me the idea was a metaphor for the fact that the earth’s strength lay in its diversity; people from all over the world, working out their problems and being a team – and boldly going where no one had gone before.
One of Takei’s great crowning achievement is the music Allegiance, which speaks to our modern cultural issues more plainly than even Takei could have imagined. Allegiance is a musical with music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and a book by Marc Acito, Kuo and Lorenzo Thione. The story, set during the Japanese American internment of World War II (with a framing story set in the present day), was inspired by the personal experiences of George Takei, who stars in the musical. It follows the Kimura family in the years following the attack on Pearl Harbor, as they are forced to leave their farm in Salinas, California and are sent to the Heart Mountain internment camp in the rural plains of Wyoming. It’s a very very personal experience for Takei, and stands as a rarity in musical theater. Perhaps its message will carry more weight than its creators imagined.
For all that, George Takei is also a New York Times best selling author, and remains both actor on stage and screen, and a political activist with a powerful voice to this day.
Happy Birthday, George. Every year you have spent on this planet has been a blessing. May you live many more.
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