With a career spanning 60 years in Hollywood, George Takei shows no signs of stopping. To celebrate the legendary actor's latest series, "The Terror: Infamy" — which debuts on AMC on Aug. 12, 2019 — Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at photos from his fascinating life. Keep reading for more…
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George Takei was born Hosato Takei to Japanese-American parents in Los Angeles on April 20, 1937. He headed to Hollywood in the '50s and found his niche doing voicework — dubbing lines in English over Japanese movie dialogue — in films like 1957's "Rodan" and 1959's "Godzilla Raids Again." From there he landed a few television roles — an episode of "Playhouse 90" and "Perry Mason" in 1959 — before nabbing a recurring role on "Hawaiian Eye." Eventually, George made the jump to the big screen. He started out with a few uncredited roles, including alongside Frank Sinatra in "Never So Few," but he got billing when he landed a part in "Ice Palace" (seen here) alongside Richard Burton in 1960.
His big break! George Takei landed a role on "Star Trek" in 1965. He was cast as Sulu, the helmsman of the Starship Enterprise, on the original TV series.
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After making a splash on the first season of "Star Trek," creators intended to give Sulu a bigger role in the second season, but George Takei's burgeoning career made that difficult. He's seen here in 1968's "The Green Berets," in which he starred opposite John Wayne — a gig that required him to miss a lot of "Star Trek" filming (about half of the episodes).
With George Takei off shooting "The Green Berets" in 1968, someone needed to helm the ship on "Star Trek." In his absence, Walter Koenig was hired to take over as the character Pavel Chekov. The two actors could have been rivals, but instead were great friends, with their characters becoming iconic pals.
Just how big of a success was "Star Trek"? Well, when it came time for NASA's first Space Shuttle orbiter to be named, it was dubbed Enterprise in honor of the hit series! When the shuttle was first rolled out in 1976, the cast — including George Takei, seen here with co-stars Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley and James Doohan — assembled in Palmdale, California, to witness the moment.
In the '70s, George Takei popped up on many popular TV shows of the era from "The Six Million Dollar Man" to "Hawaii Five-0." He's seen here during his stint on "Black Sheep Squadron," where he played Major Kato in 1976.
In 1979, the "Star Trek" crew reassembled for "Star Trek: The Motion Picture." It would be the first of many flicks in the franchise, with George Takei reprising his role as Sulu for six films total. He also voiced the character for various video games.
Over the years, George Takei has also been active in the theater. In 1987, he starred as the Genie in "Aladdin" at the Hexagon Theatre in Reading, England.
George Takei joined legendary "Star Trek" producer Gene Roddenberry plus castmates James Doohan and William Shatner at the opening of a new Star Trek Universal Studios Tour at Universal Studios in Universal City, California, in June 1988. George spent the second half of the decade doing a lot of TV guest starring work on popular shows of the era such as "Miami Vice," "MacGyver," "Murder, She Wrote" and more.
George Takei joined "Star Trek" co-stars Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner as he placed his handprints in cement outside the famed Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on Dec. 5, 1991.
In 1994, George Takei published his autobiography, "To The Stars." It touched on his entire life from his childhood — including his time in a Japanese American internment camp — to his decision to get into acting and his infamous feud with co-star William Shatner.
In 1996, "Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond – A Live Tribute Event" was filmed at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. George Takei, along with many of his former co-stars, attended the taping of the TV special commemorating the 30th anniversary of the original show. That same year, he also reprised his role as Sulu on the TV show "Star Trek: Voyager."
George Takei came out as a gay man in 2005, opening up about his relationship with partner Brad Altman. At the time, the couple (seen here in 2003) had been together for 18 years, but George hadn't been open about his sexual orientation publicly. True "Star Trek" fans had an idea, however, thanks to his membership in LGBT organizations like Frontrunners, a running club that formed in San Francisco and promoted the gay and lesbian community.
In 2006, George Takei took some shots at William Shatner when he appeared on Comedy Central's roast of the actor. The two had been known to not get along on the "Star Trek" set but ultimately, they've come to have a lot of respect for each other and the characters they helped create.
Over the years, George Takei has been vocal when it comes to politics. He's been active on the board of directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit District, helping plan Los Angeles's subway system. He's also run for Los Angeles City Council and California State Assemblyman and has long lobbied for gay rights. He's seen here in June 2006 at the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Pride parade.
It was time to join the cast of another popular show, NBC "Heroes," in 2007. George Takei played Kaito Nakamura, a Japanese businessman who's the father of Hiro Nakamura. The show added in some sweet little allusions to George's "Star Trek" past, making Hiro a fan of the show and giving his character's limo the license plate NCC-1701.
George Takei and Brad Altman were the first same-sex couple to apply for a marriage license in West Hollywood in June 2008. They married a few months after receiving it, tying the knot that September. The following year, they became the first same-sex couple to appear on "The Newlywed Game" game show.
George Takei made the jump to reality TV in 2008 with an appearance on "I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!" He joined the British series' eighth season and ended up coming in third place after surviving in the Australian bush.
In 2010, George Takei stopped by the popular Disney Channel show "The Suite Life on Deck." The actor played Rome Tipton on an episode entitled "Starship Tipton" alongside child stars Dylan Sprouse and Cole Sprouse.
An unlikely Internet star! Around the same time he voiced a character in the animated movie "Free Birds" — George Takei is seen here at the flick's premiere in October 2013 — he was gaining notoriety on Facebook thanks to his hilarious posts. After starting his page in 2011, he started amassing a large fanbase on the social media platform, one that now reaches more than 10 million people.
"Allegiance" — an important story about the history of Japanese Americans — was a passion project for George Takei. The musical is based on George and his family's personal experiences during World War II when they were forced into an internment camp following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The fictionalized take follows the Kimura family as they are plucked from their farm in Salinas, California, and sent to an internment camp in Wyoming. George starred in the play, which traveled the country and eventually ran on Broadway from 2015 to 2016.
Turning 80 didn't slow down George Takei or his career! In 2017, the actor did a stint on the popular ABC sitcom "Fresh Off the Boat" playing Bernard, an ESL instructor who becomes the object of Grandma Huang's affections.
In June 2019, George Takei received the Distinguished Alumni Award in Theater from his alma mater, UCLA. He previously earned not one but two degrees from the esteemed university — a bachelor's degree in 1960 and a master of arts in 1964. His sister, Nancy Reiko Takei, attended the ceremony with him.
At 82, George Takei is still working steadily in Hollywood! In August 2019, he played Yamato-san on "The Terror: Infamy," Season 2 of the AMC anthology series, which is set in a World War II Japanese internment camp.