* Japanese American actor who starred in the original Star Trek TV series
* Staunch supporter of Democratic candidates and causes
* Detests Donald Trump & his political supporters
* Describes Justice Clarence Thomas as “a clown in blackface”
* Supporter of Black Lives Matter & Colin Kaepernick
Originally named Hosato Takei, George Takei was born to Japanese American parents on April 20, 1937 in Los Angeles, California. When the boy was five, he and his family were confined for eight months in a World War II-era Japanese internment camp in Arkansas. Although Takei’s parents declined in January 1943 to profess their loyalty to the United States government, the family was eventually allowed to move back to Southern California. Takei later went on to attend the University of California at Berkeley before ultimately graduating from UCLA in 1960 with a B.A. degree in theater. He subsequently earned a master’s degree in theater from UCLA in 1964.
Takei is best known as the actor who portrayed Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek television series, in which he starred from 1966 to 1969. He has since made minor appearances in numerous television shows and films.
A self-described “community activist,” Takei has long been a supporter of leftwing causes and the Democratic Party. At the Democratic National Convention in 1972, he served as an alternate California delegate for presidential candidate George McGovern, who campaigned on what was arguably the most far-left platform in the party’s history up to that point in time. The following year, Takei ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for the Los Angeles City Council.
From 1973 to 1984, Takei was on the board of directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit District. He later joined the board of the Japan-United States Friendship Commission during the Bill Clinton presidency of the 1990s.
After then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill in October 2005 that would have legalized same-sex marriages in that state, Takei publicly announced that he himself was gay and had been dating a man for the preceding 18 years: “Why did I come out when I did? Because Schwarzenegger presented himself as a movie star who had worked and was friends with gays and lesbians, many of whom voted for him, but then vetoed that bill. I was so angry that I spoke to the press for the first time as a gay man at the age of 68.”
In a 2006 interview with radio icon Howard Stern, Takei recalled having been molested as a 13-year-old by his then-18-year-old camp counselor. Takei described the incident as “both wonderful and scary and kind of intimidating, and delightful.”
In 2007, Takei, as a response to former NBA player Tim Hardaway’s recent assertion that he hated gay people, recorded a satirical PSA for the Jimmy Kimmel Live program. In that video, Takei, pretending to caress an image of Hardaway, stated that he and other gay men were very fond of the ballplayer’s “large, powerful calves” and his “smooth, chocolatey head, glazed in man sweat.” He then told Hardaway that “one day, when you least expect it, I will have sex with you.”
In September 2008, the 71-year-old Takei legally “married” his 54-year-old partner, Brad Altman, at a California ceremony officiated by a Buddhist priest. The couple, both clad in white dinner jackets with black pants, entered the room to the tune of “One Singular Sensation” from the Broadway musical A Chorus Line.
In June 2013, Takei wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision to declare the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional in United States v. Windsor. Signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, DOMA had defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and it had protected individual states from being required to recognize the legality of same-sex marriages performed in other states. By Takei’s telling, opposition to same-sex marriage was akin to past attitudes against desegregation and interracial marriages: “Future generations will shake their heads at how narrow, fearful and ignorant we sounded today debating DOMA.”
Also in 2012, Takei’s personal recollections of the time he had spent in a Japanese internment camp inspired the production of a musical play titled Allegiance, which premiered on September 7 at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Takei said of the production:
“I see Allegiance as my legacy project. The story is very important to me and it’s been my mission in life to raise Americans’ awareness of that shameful chapter of American history. I think we learn more from those times in our history where we stumbled as a democracy than we learn from the glorious chapters. We have the history of slavery or inequality to women, and now the civil rights movement of the 21st century is the struggle for equality for the gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. And I think it’s important for Americans to know about the times that we failed, and Allegiance tells that story.”
Allegiance eventually made its way to Broadway in 2015.
In March 2015, Takei called for a boycott against the state of Indiana after then-Governor Mike Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was designed to strengthen legal protections for those with sincerely held religious beliefs – even if those beliefs ran counter to LGBT ideological orthodoxy. In response to the enactment of RFRA, Takei tweeted that “LGBTs aren’t 2nd class citizens.”
Following Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ dissenting opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges — in which five liberal justices legalized same-sex marriage throughout the U.S. in June 2015 — Takei referred to Thomas as “a clown in blackface.” He also stated that Thomas “does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrassment. He is a disgrace to America.” In early July 2015, Takei defended his blackface comment as “not racist” and explained how it properly described Justice Thomas:
“Blackface” is a lesser known theatrical term for a white actor who blackens his face to play a black buffoon. In traditional theater lingo, and in my view and intent, that is not racist. It is instead part of a racist history in this country. I feel Justice Thomas has abdicated and abandoned his African American heritage by claiming slavery did not strip dignity from human beings. He made a similar remark about the Japanese American internment, of which I am a survivor. A sitting Justice of the Supreme Court ought to know better.”
Strongly opposed the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump in 2016, Takei accused Trump of “dehumanizing” Mexicans in a manner similar to what U.S. government had done to Japanese Americans during World War II. Speaking in Spanish, Takei stated in July 2016: “We [Japanese Americans] were targets simply because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. When Trump today says Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers, it is his way of similarly dehumanizing whole groups, so that he can set his plans in motion.” Claiming that Trump’s stance on immigration would eventually lead to the deportation of 100 times the number of people who had been forcibly placed in incarceration camps during World War II, Takei added: “Back then, they simply said, ‘A Jap is a Jap,’ and we lost our homes and freedom, even though two thirds of us were U.S. citizens. Today, Trump tells his supporters that a ‘Mexican is a Mexican.’” Exhorting Americans to “vote resoundingly against Trump” in the upcoming November election, Takei said in Spanish: “Donald Trump is a dangerous man, but your votes can ensure he never comes to power, and history does not repeat.” Takei endorsed Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton and defended her infamous “basket of deplorables” description of the people whom Takei described as “racist Trump supporters.”
In June 2019, Takei condemned the Trump administration’s enforcement of longstanding immigration laws that authorized the temporary separation of children from their illegal migrant parents detained at the U.S. southern border: “This nation has a long and tragic history of separating children from their parents, ever since the days of slavery. We must end this practice. It is barbaric.”
In an August 2019 interview with the Huffington Post, Takei warned that the “level of cruelty and evil” inherent in the Trump administration’s decision to enforce the laws authorizing the separation of illegal alien adults and their children, represented a “grotesque low” point in American history. “[Trump] is trying to say that he’s doing this in the name of America… We will not allow that,” said Takei. “We will not allow this to get the stamp of Americanism. This is a warped, ignorant and cruel evil form of Americanism that’s happening there.”
In December 2019, Takei tweeted that Trump voters: (a) “do not even realize they are enabling the desolation of our Republic,” and (b) “somehow think they are preserving America, but in fact they are helping destroy it. And that is a tragedy of enormous scope.”
Amid the outbreak and escalation of the coronavirus pandemic during March 2020, Takei took issue with President Trump’s use of the phrase, “Chinese virus.” Although the virus likely emerged from a lab in Wuhan, China, Takei said that Trump’s terminology had created “a cold chill throughout the Asian American community.” He also noted that Trump was “sending a signal to the haters in his constituency, and there are plenty of them there.” In a March 21 tweet, Takei wrote: “The coronavirus acts just like Trump. It gains a foothold and builds on ignorance. It grows because people don’t want to listen to science and the experts. It shuts down our borders and cuts us off from each other. And it’s a symbol of our utter lack of preparedness. #TrumpVirus”
In July 2016 as well, Takei visited the Japanese internment camp-turned historic landmark near Heart Mountain in Wyoming, where more than 14,000 Japanese Americans had been detained after Japan’s December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Looking directly into the camera during an interview with MSNBC, he stated: “Black Lives Matter. Law enforcement officers are the ones that are shooting, because they are afraid of black men. The same sort of attitude placed us [Japanese Americans] behind these barb-wire fences.”
On June 17, 2017, Takei rebuked Republican Congressman Steve Scalise, who had been hospitalized after being shot nearly to death by a far-left activist during a Congressional Republican softball practice in Alexandria, Virginia days earlier. Takei tweeted: “The universe doesn’t joke around. The officer who saved bigoted, homophobic Rep. Steve Scalise during baseball practice was a black lesbian.”
After President Trump reversed an Obama-era policy that had allowed transgender people to serve in the U.S. military, Takei tweeted that Trump had “just pissed off the wrong community” and would “regret” the decision.
During the height of the #MeToo movement in 2017, an interview surfaced of a Takei appearance on The Howard Stern Show where he had boasted about having grabbed skittish men by the crotch. Takei now used his Facebook account to express remorse for remarks he claimed had been made entirely in jest. “Many have raised concern over a back-and-forth between Howard Stern and myself, where we joked about me touching men during my ‘Star Trek’ days 50 years ago,” Takei wrote. “Out of context, I agree that the joke was distasteful, and I’m very sorry he and I made fun out of a serious matter. For decades, I have played the part of a ‘naughty gay grandpa’ when I visit Howard’s show, a caricature I now regret. But I want to be clear: I have never forced myself upon someone during a date. Sometimes my dates were the initiators, and sometimes I was. It was always by mutual consent. I see now that that it has come across poorly in the awkward sketch, and I apologize for playing along with Howard’s insinuation.”
In November 2017, Takei was accused of having sexually assaulted a former male model named Scott R. Brunton, who alleged in an interview that the actor had groped him and tried to remove his underwear one night in 1981, when Brunton was 23. Takei dismissed the allegations, stating that “non-consensual acts are so antithetical to my values and my practices.” He also tweeted a graphic from the discredited left-wing project, Alliance for Securing Democracy, and portrayed the story as disinformation originating from “Russian bots.”
In October 2020, Takei and 18 fellow cast members from five separate Star Trek series participated in a virtual fundraiser on behalf of Democratic presidential and vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The event also featured appearances by such notable Democrats as Andrew Yang, Stacey Abrams, Cory Booker, and Pete Buttigieg.
On January 27, 2021, Takei articulated the pleasure he was deriving from the avalanche of executive orders that President Joe Biden had signed during his first week in office: “Watching the GOP meltdown over Biden’s sensible and necessary executive orders makes me feel a certain way. What is it again? Oh yes. Smug. We won’t stop working toward a more just, equitable, and sustainable world. This drives them crazy…but I don’t really care. Do you?”
Nevertheless, Takei tweeted: “With voter suppression signed into law in Georgia and a slate of insidious proposals coming in across the country, the Senate has no choice but to pass the For the People Act. By any means necessary.”
As of April 2023, Takei had an estimated net worth of $14 million.