Dr. George Takei is celebrating his 87th birthday on Saturday, April 2024. Takei, who came to international fame playing Star Trek‘s Lt. Sulu, was born April 20, 1937 in Los Angeles, California, USA. He is an actor, an author, a civil rights advocate, the uncrowned King of the Internet, and fandom’s beloved “Uncle” George. He’s a delicious, never malicious trickster, and it’s safest to ignore him on or around April 1. He’s dabbled in politics. George earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater from UCLA in 1960 and earned his Master of Arts degree in Theater in 1964. He was granted an honorary doctorate by CSULA in 2016. In 2022 he was awarded a second honorary doctorate by the University of South Australia.

George Takei, the Noted Author

He is celebrating his birthday with his new book, My Lost Freedom, a children’s book that was released only a few days ago. My Lost Freedom tells how George Takei and thousands of other Japanese-Americans were forced into relocation camps during WWII. It’s an ugly but important piece of our history that must not be forgotten. My Lost Freedom is intended for elementary school children. He did interviews about the new book on television.

Takei had previously written about his experiences in the internment camps for older readers in the graphic novel They Called Us Enemy. He also inspired the Kuo-Acito musical Allegiance.

George Takei naturally described his four years in the internment camps in his 1994 autobiography, To the Stars: The Autobiography of George Takei. He’s also written two memoirs, Oh Myyy! – There Goes The Internet (Life, the Internet and Everything Book 1) and Lions and Tigers and Bears – The Internet Strikes Back (Life, the Internet and Everything Book 2). He is co-author (with Bob Aspirin) of the science fiction ninja adventure novel Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe.

George Takei, the Highly Acclaimed Actor

Dr. Takei started his theatrical career in the 1950s. He started out doing voiceovers for Japanese monster movies like Rodan (1967) and Godzilla Raids Again (1959). This eventually led to roles television (Perry Mason, Hawaiian Eye, Twilight Zone, and My Three Sons) and Ice Palace (1958), Hell to Eternity (1960). Like most Asian-American actors of the era, he played Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean characters. Hollywood assumed most audiences would neither know nor care the difference. He complained in an interview once that most of those roles were stereotyped by modern standards, usually a silent servant or a threatening “”yellow menace” villain. But in 1966, that all changed. In 1966, he was cast as Hikaru Sulu, the helmsman of the U.S.S. Enterprise, and he and his castmates became international stars. He appeared in The Green Berets (1968) as Captain Nghiem. In the soap opera General Hospital, he had a recurring role as Diem.

Geek Cred

Sulu on Star Trek was, of course, George Takei’s most famous role, but it was not his first sci-fi role. In 1964 he starred in the controversial Twilight Zone episode “The Encounter.” It was withdrawn from syndication from 1964 to 2004. In 1965, Dr. Takei appeared on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Major Lee Cheng. In the Canadian TV show Space Cases, Takei played Warlord Shank. In Star Wars: The Clone Wars he voiced General Lok Durd, and in Star Wars: Visions, he voiced Senshuu. He is one of only five actors (so far )to have worked in both the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises, the others being Deep Roy, Clive Revill, Jason Wingreen, Felix Silla. He was the voice of Gary in Space Milkshake (2012). He appeared in ten episodes of The Terror as Yamato-San. In the cult classic TV show Heroes, he played Kaito Nakamura, the father of Hiro Nakamura.

Dr. Takei, the Politician & Social Critic

Civil rights activist Mary Church Terrell (1869-1954) complained of the “double burden” Black women had to face — both sexism and racism. Takei, too, has labored under a double burden of prejudice and discrimination, as a racial minority and an openly Gay man. This has influenced his vocation as a civil rights advocate and a politician.

Takei has been a noted social critic for years and has never been shy about sharing his political views. As a civil rights advocate, he has focused on LGBTQ rights and immigrants, fields in which he has personal experience. He was a delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention which chose George McGovern as a candidate. In 1973, Takei ran for the Los Angeles City Council, but lost. Mayor Tom Bradley (1917-1998) appointed him to the board of directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit District, and he served on the board from 1973-1984.

Doubtless in some parallel universe that mirrors our own, a different George Takei reluctantly put his dreams of a theatrical career aside and pursued a political career. Perhaps in that space-time continuum, that Dr. Takei is now running for re-election to the White House.

Partial List of Awards and Honors

In addition to two honorary doctorates, Dr. Takei has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has an asteroid named in his honor. In recognition of his contributions to Japanese-American relations, the government of Japan awarded him the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, in 2004. In 2015, the Japanese American National Museum honored Dr. Takei with its Distinguished Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement and Public Service. In 2014 he received the GLAAD Vito Russo Award for being an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality for the LGBT community.

Fr. Takei is trilingual, fluent in English, Japanese, and Spanish. Eighty-seven years is much too short a time to have enjoyed his company. Banzai! Happy Birthday, Uncle George from all your honorary nieces and nephews at SciFi.Radio. ¡Viva Tio Jorge!


Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress ”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.