From Star Trek icon to internet superstar, George Takei has lived quite the extraodinary life. He's been at the forefront of U.S. and Japanese relations, Los Angeles politics, Star Trek conventions, and so much more. Perhaps Takei is best known as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, or maybe even his hilarious memes on Facebook, but these eight facts about him will definitely make you say, "Oh my!"
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He's named after royalty.
Takei was born as Hosato Takei in 1937, but his father added the name George after King George VI of the United Kingdom. The wartime king ascended to the throne a few months prior to Takei's birth.
His family was forced into an internment camp.
Although Takei was born in Los Angeles, he and his family were sent to an internment camp during WWII. In 1942, the family was relocated to a camp in Arkansas, and later moved to a camp in California.
Takei has spoken about the experience many times in the past, and even testified before Congress in 1981.
He was on 'The Twilight Zone'.
Star Trek isn't the only science fiction program Takei's appeared on. In 1964, Takei had a guest role on The Twilight Zone in an episode titled "The Encounter." After the episode aired, it was pulled from syndication because of controversy surrounding Takei's character. Takei plays a Japanese-American whose father spied for the Japanese army during Pearl Harbor.
He's run for office.
In 1973, Takei ran for City Council in Los Angeles. He came in second, with about 33 percent of the vote. In order to avoid the FCC's equal time rule for candidates running for office, a local TV station stopped airing Star Trek reruns during his campaign.
He helped plan the subway system in L.A.
The same year he lost the election, Takei was appointed to the board of directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit District. While filming, Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1978, Takei had to leave the set in order to cast the deciding vote on whether to create the Los Angeles subway system.
Image: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
His favorite episode of Star Trek is "The Naked Time".
Takei has often stated his favorite episode from the original series is "The Naked Time," when Lt. Sulu gets infected by a virus and wields a fencing sword. Other cast members weren't too fond of it, though. In an interview, Nichelle Nichols laughs, "George was scaring the hell out of everybody."
He's received high honors from Japan.
Because of his political involvement and helping improve U.S. and Japanese relations, in 2004 the government of Japan awarded Takei with the Order of the Rising Sun. It's the third highest honor that can be given by the Japanese government.
He's appeared in fan fiction.
Takei doesn't shy away from his original role of Lt. Sulu on Star Trek. Through the years, he's made appearances at conventions and reprised his role numerous times. In 2007, he even went as far as to star in a fan-made Star Trek series. The episode, "World Enough and Time," can be seen on YouTube.
Image: Star Trek New Voyages