Thursday, April 18, 2024

My One Degree of Separation from Star Trek's Sulu

 Eighty-six-year-old George Takei is enjoying another moment in the spotlight (

The venerable, venerated actor and activist is now author of a children’s book (“My Lost Freedom”) based on his experience during World War II as an American citizen of Japanese descent interned in a relocation camp away from their West Coast homes, a dark moment in our nation’s history after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by Imperial Japan when our country let fear overwhelm constitutional rights and protections. 

Takei first vaulted onto the public’s consciousness as Lt. Hikaru Sulu on “Star Trek,” the sci-fi television series that ran on NBC 1966-1969. Through reruns, films, comic books and trade shows the Star Trek franchise has kept Takei and his comrades from the Starship USS Enterprise in the public eye for more than half a century. 

I never really was a Star Trek groupie. The concept, after all, was a space-age oater, oater being a crossword puzzle word for a moral-based Western entertainment treatment. In my family Westerns dominated our television viewing. The Lone Ranger. Hopalong Cassidy. Sky King. Roy Rogers. Paladin. Cheyenne. Maverick. Wanted Dead or Alive. The Rebel. Sugarfoot. The Rifleman. Wagon Train. Wyatt Earp. Bat Masterson. Tales of Wells Fargo. Last of the Mohicans. And, of course, Gunsmoke and Bonanza. 

We didn’t need to fly into outer space to learn American values of right and wrong. They were imprinted onto our moral code on horseback on the plains of the West. 

George Takei mostly was a curiosity to me until after I took over as editor of Chain Store Age Executive in November 1987. Among the staff I inherited was a Los Angeles-based writer, Brad Altman. 

I cannot recall why, but corporate said I had to trim the editorial staff. For nothing to do with his talent, the axe fell on Brad. I flew to Los Angeles to deliver the news in person. 

A few years later I was jolted by the surprising news that Brad became the partner of George Takei. They married in 2008. They were the first gay couple to receive a marriage license in the City of West Hollywood. Brad changed his last name to Takei in 2013.

He’s my one degree of separation from George Takei (