George Takei was born on April 20, 1937, in Los Angeles, California. In 1942, after the outbreak of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which led to the forced relocation of Japanese Americans from the West Coast. As part of the relocation, four-year-old George, his parents, and his younger brother and sister were moved from California to the Rohwer Relocation Center in 1942. The family members lived in Arkansas about eight months and afterwards they were moved to the maximum-security camp at Tule Lake, California, where they stayed until being released in 1946.
After graduating from Los Angeles High School in 1956, Takei enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley but transferred to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) to study acting, and he graduated with a BA in theater in 1960. He soon began making guest appearances on television.
While studying for a master’s degree in theater arts at UCLA, which he received in 1964, Takei was cast in the role of Hikaru Sulu in a pilot for the television series Star Trek. He portrayed Sulu for three seasons, from 1966 to 1969, and in six movies between 1979 and 1991. Takei also appeared in other films, including Majority of One (1962), P. T. 109 (1963), The Green Berets (1968), Which Way to the Front? (1970), Return to the River Kwai (1989), Prisoners of the Sun (1990), Live By the Fist (1993), Trekkies (1997), and Mulan (1998).
Takei has also been active in civic and community affairs as an activist and as an outspoken supporter of human rights. He was a delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, and ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council in 1973. He served on the board of directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit District from 1973 to 1984, was vice president of the American Public Transit Association from 1978 to 1980, and is a member of the National Japanese American Citizens League and the Association of Asian Pacific American Artists. He is also Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of the Japanese American National Museum.