George Hosato 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’s internment experience helped inspire the musical Allegiance, which Takei participated in from its earliest readings in 2008 to a sold-out stint in San Diego in 2012 to, eventually, a run on Broadway in 2015.
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. He made his acting debut in a Playhouse 90 production when he was attending UCLA. While he was taking classes, Takei also trained at the Desilu Workshop. After a biking trip across Europe, Takei returned to California and began appearing in films and on television. He made his big-screen debut in Ice Palace, with Richard Burton, in 1960, and guest starred on series such as 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 aired only once, in 1964, as its story of a Japanese traitor in WW II was deemed so controversial that it never ran again.
Takei first began his Star Trek adventure with "Where No Man Has Gone Before," the second Star Trek: The Original Series pilot that finally sold the series. In that hour, Sulu was said to be a mathematician. Once the series went into weekly production, the character became the helmsman and a part of the bridge crew. During the first season of TOS, 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.
After Star Trek was canceled in 1969, 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 original Hawaii Five-O. In 1972, he served as a California representative at 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 TOS and Star Trek: The Animated Series until after the vote. That’s because Takei's opponent felt that his voice and image on TV 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. And in 1994 he penned his memoirs, To the Stars. And, Takei continued to act, fighting the good fight against typecasting as best he could. His many credits in the ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000’s included all of the TOS features, MacGyver, Prisoners of the Sun, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, Space Cases, Mulan, Batman Beyond, Futurama and Scrubs. And, of course, he reprised his role as Sulu for many Star Trek audionovels and video games, as well as in the 1996 Voyager episode, “Flashback.” Along the way, he had an asteroid, "7307 Takei," named after him and in 1986 was honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Takei, in 2005, 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, including Will & Grace, and as the official "voice" of the then-new Howard Stern Show that premiered on Sirius Satellite Radio in January 2006.
The Stern association led to what can only be called a George Takei renaissance. Suddenly, the actor was everywhere and in constant demand. He became an Internet sensation, with millions of followers on both Facebook and Twitter; played a key recurring role on Heroes; turned up in such film as The Great Buck Howard, Larry Crowne, Entourage and Kubo and the Two Strings; and either guest starred or lent his deep baritone voice to such shows as The Big Bang Theory, Transformers Prime, Supah Ninjas, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Hot in Cleveland and the new Hawaii Five-O. He also wrote another book, Oh Myyy: There Goes the Internet (released in 2012), and worked tirelessly on behalf of the Japanese American National Museum. And then came Allegiance, which Takei considers one of the crowning achievements of both his life and career.
Takei lives with his husband, Brad Takei, whom he married in 2008, in Los Angeles and New York City.