Entertainment TV George Takei's Life in Photos The Star Trek star is a pioneer on screen and in real life, with an illustrious career as an actor and activist for the AAPI and LGBTQ+ communities By Diane J. Cho Diane J. Cho Diane J. Cho was the Features Editor of PEOPLE Digital from 2019 to 2022. She worked at the brand for nearly four years covering news, features, human interest, evergreen, holiday gift guides and more. She launched the How I Parent and What It's Really Like to Be …. digital series and has interviewed several celebrities and influential leaders within the entertainment industry. Prior to joining PEOPLE, Diane worked at Bustle, VH1 and Complex. She received her bachelor's degree in Journalism from Rutgers University and her master's degree from Columbia Journalism School. People Editorial Guidelines Published on April 20, 2022 08:30 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos 01 of 20 George Takei's Childhood Courtesy George Takei George Hosato Takei was born on April 20, 1937 in Los Angeles, California. When he was just 5 years old, the star and his family were forced at gunpoint from their home and sent to live in an internment camp during World War II for nearly four years. In this photo, provided to PEOPLE in 2015, George is pictured lower right with (from left) baby sister Nancy, parents Emily and Norman and younger brother Henry, in L.A. in 1941. 02 of 20 George Takei's Early Career CBS via Getty As a young adult, he attended UCLA to study acting, and found work doing voiceovers, during a time when there were barely any opportunities for Asian American actors. By 1965, Takei booked a job that would forever change his life. Takei was cast as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek television series, alongside William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, DeForest Kelley and James Doohan. The series would only run for three seasons, but it would live on as a cult classic that spawned many future adaptations. 03 of 20 George Takei as Star Trek's Lieutenant Sulu CBS via Getty As Lieutenant Sulu, Takei and most of the cast returned to film five sequels and a movie. Here, the star and costars Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock), Walter Koenig (Pavel Chekov), William Shatner (Captain James T. Kirk), Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) and James Doohan (Montgomery "Scotty" Scott) filmed on the Starship Enterprise set for the "Spock's Brain" episode in September 1968. 04 of 20 George Takei in the Star Trek Movie Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Takei, Stephen Collins, Majel Barrett, Persis Khambatta, Grace Lee Whitney, William Shatner, James Doohan, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Walter Koenig and Michelle Nichols also reunited to film Star Trek: The Motion Picture, directed by Robert Wise, in 1979. 05 of 20 George Takei Releases Autobiography To the Stars Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty The actor had written about his upbringing, career obstacles and the massive success of Star Trek in his autobiography called To the Stars. During a Nov. 1993 promo stop in Miami, Florida, Takei signed books for fans at a Borders bookstore. 06 of 20 George Takei Guest Stars on Will & Grace Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Over the years, Takei has made many guest appearances on popular shows, including Will & Grace, pictured. He make a cameo on the "Buy, Buy Baby" episode with Britney Spears in March 2006. 07 of 20 George Takei Gets Roasted By Gilbert Gottfried Joe Corrigan/Getty The late Gilbert Gottfried took the podium to roast friend Takei at the Friars Club's So You Think You Can Roast?! in August 2008 in New York City. 08 of 20 George Takei Marries Brad Altman VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty That same year, Takei and his longtime partner Brad Altman posed proudly with their wedding certificates in West Hollywood in June 2008. 09 of 20 George Takei Guest Stars on Hawaii Five-0 Norman Shapiro/CBS/Getty While guest acting on Hawaii Five-O as Uncle Choi, Takei posed with a young Daniel Dae Kim, who played his nephew Chin Ho Kelly, in November 2012. 10 of 20 George Takei Guest Stars on The Big Bang Theory Cliff Lipson/CBS The actor starred as himself on The Big Bang Theory's "The Hot Troll Deviation" episode on October 2010. 11 of 20 George Takei Plays Kaito Nakamura on Heroes Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Takei played Masi Oka's character's father, Kaito Nakamura, on the hit series Heroes from 2007 to 2010. 12 of 20 George Takei Joins Celebrity Apprentice Michael Loccisano/Getty Celebrity Apprentice season 12 contestants Debbie Gibson, Takei, Lisa Lampanelli and Aubrey O'Day posed for a photo in May 2012. (He only made it to episode 3 of his season.) 13 of 20 George Takei Poses for To Be Takei Portraits at Sundance Larry Busacca/Getty Co-director Bill Weber, producers Gerry Kim and Mayuran Tiruchelvam, Takei and husband Brad, and director Jennifer M. Kroot posed for portraits at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, where they premiered a documentary about his life, To Be Takei. 14 of 20 George Takei Guest Stars on Fresh Off the Boat John Fleenor/ABC/Getty Appearing in two episodes of Fresh Off the Boat, Takei played Bernard — Grandma's ESL teacher — on Halloween episode "It's a Plastic Pumpkin, Louis Huang" and "The Day After Thanksgiving." 15 of 20 George Takei Takes the Stage on Opening Night of Allegiance Walter McBride/WireImage The actor embraced the crowd during the opening night curtain call for his Broadway musical Allegiance in N.Y.C. in November 2015. The Star Trek star brought his family's internment experience during WWII to life in the show, which Takei created as a tribute to his father. 16 of 20 George Takei Receives Honorary Doctorate Degree Emma McIntyre/Getty In June 2016, Takei received an honorary doctorate degree from Cal State L.A. at Billie Jean King Sports Complex. 17 of 20 George Takei's 'New Frontiers' Exhibition Is Held in L.A. Albert L. Ortega/Getty A "New Frontiers: The Many Lives Of George Takei" exhibition press conference was held at the Japanese American National Museum in March 2017 in L.A. to honor the actor and his many accomplishments. 18 of 20 George Takei Arrives at the They Called Us Enemy Book Signing Albert L. Ortega/Getty A large crowd of fans welcomed Takei at his book signing for They Called Us Enemy, his graphic novel inspired by his childhood experiences, at The Grove in L.A. in August 2019. 19 of 20 George Takei Is Honored at the U.S.-Asia Entertainment Summit Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Takei was celebrated for his philanthropic efforts at the 2021 U.S.-Asia Entertainment Summit in L.A. 20 of 20 George Takei's Activism Dia Dipasupil/Getty At 85, the actor is popular on Twitter, and remains a passionate and outspoken activist on issues surrounding immigration and racial and LGBTQ+ equality, penning op-eds to denounce the United States' border policy and proposed Muslim registry, informed by his own childhood in the internment camps. "I consider it my responsibility as an American citizen to actively participate, particularly because I know my childhood imprisonment — the unjust imprisonment," he told ABC. "If we don't participate, if we don't educate our fellow Americans to the vulnerability of our democracy, how fragile it can be, then we're not being responsible citizens."