The actor and activist has fought discrimination in art and in the political arena, fueled in part by his childhood detention in a World War II internment camp for Japanese Americans.
Though it represented a "tiny fraction" of his life, Takei told CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller, "it's that fraction that's defined who I am, [and] what values I stand for."
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan
Fallout from Pearl HarborOn February 19, 1942, less than three months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which allowed certain persons to be excluded from so-called "military zones." This led the way for the relocation of Americans of Japanese ancestry (including American-born children of Japanese immigrants) from much of the West Coast, deemed a "military zone."
"We were all concentrated, densely concentrated, solely based on race," Takei said. "We happened to look like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor, and put in prison camps simply because of our race."
Takei FamilyGeorge's father -- a successful dry cleaner -- and mother, raising three very young children, were among the more than 110,000 Japanese Americans sent to relocation centers, in the defense of "national security" during World War II. Ten camps in all were erected throughout the country.
"We were ordered out of our home at gunpoint," Takei said.
Rohwer War Relocation CenterGeorge was just five years old when he and his family arrived by train at the relocation camp in Rohwer, Arkansas, in 1942. Their new "home" was a small, single room in a tar paper barrack.
Rohwer War Relocation CenterGeorge Takei at Rohwer Relocation Center in Rohwer, Ark.
Rohwer War Relocation Center"I went to school and began every school-day morning with the pledge of allegiance of the flag," Takei said. "I could see the barbed wire fence and the sentry tower right outside my schoolhouse window as I recited the words 'With liberty and justice for all.'
"The stinging irony meant nothing to me -- I was a child."
Tule Lake Internment CampTakei's family would spend eight months at Rohwer, and then another three years at a maximum security camp in Tule Lake, California (left).
In 1946 - a year after the war ended - his family was released.
"I loved it," he told Miller. "And I still remember those lines I had: 'Yo hey, yo hey, mitaculanahumbu. Omnichi vichopi!' "
Though just a grade school play, Takei was hooked.
He had bit parts in television and films, including "Playhouse 90," "Perry Mason" and "The Twilight Zone." He also dubbed the voices in the English-language releases of the Japanese monster movies "Rodan" and "Godzilla Raids Again."
Asians in FilmBut roles for Japanese American actors were limited. "We were the villains," Takei said. "Vicious, brutal Japanese soldiers, or Fu Manchu - evil incarnate, bad guys. Or I saw Asians as buffoons, comic characters, or quiet, servile servants. So, no, the picture wasn't very attractive."
He said he took to heart advice from his father not to bring shame by playing a stereotype.
"Never So Few"George Takei in an uncredited role as a hospitalized solder in the 1959 Frank Sinatra drama, "Never So Few."
"Ice Palace"George Takei with Richard Burton in the 1960 drama, "Ice Palace," adapted from Edna Ferber's novel about Alaska.
"A Majority of One"George Takei with Rosalind Russel in "A Majority of One" (1961).
"Star Trek"His break came in 1965 when his agent got him an audition in front of Gene Roddenberry, who was about to launch a sci-fi series called "Star Trek."
"Star Trek"The role of Mr. Sulu was a game-changer for Takei.
"It broke the stereotypes. I mean, I was a regular, visible, talking, walking, fencing presence!"
"Star Trek"Mr. Sulu was a role Takei was proud to take. Not only did "Star Trek" deal symbolically with hot-button issues like race; as a valued crew member of the USS Enterprise, Mr. Sulu was breaking another stereotype:
"Asian Americans were supposed to be terrible drivers," he told Miller. "You know, we were either driving too slow, or we made the wrong signals, you know? People always were calling bad drivers, 'Oh, Asian drivers,' you know? Well, Sulu was the best helmsman in the galaxy. I sure broke that stereotype image of Asian Americans!"
"Star Trek"Mr. Sulu (George Takei) goes undercover in the "Star Trek" episode "Return of the Archons."
"Star Trek"Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock, DeForest Kelly and Dr. McCoy, and George Takei as Mr. Sulu in "Star Trek" (examining a possible ancient artifact?).
The Enterprise's five-year mission "to boldly go where no man has gone before" ended after three seasons, but Takei wasn't through with playing the character of Sulu - not if passionate Trek fans had anything to do with it.
"The Green Berets"George Takei (as Capt. Nim) with John Wayne in the 1968 Vietnam War film, "The Green Berets."
PoliticsAn early example of George Takei's activism can in 1973. While continuing to act, and co-hosting a local public-affairs TV program, he ran for City Council in Los Angeles in a special election to fill a vacant seat. Takei came in second in a crowded field.
"I've been active in both the community and in the political arena, because of what we learned from the internment," Takei told Miller. "My father said that our democracy is vitally dependent on good people, people that subscribe to the ideals of our democracy, being actively engaged in the process."
Space Shuttle EnterprisePartly thanks to a write-in effort by "Star Trek" fans, NASA named its first space shuttle Enterprise. In 1976 the cast of "Star Trek" was invited to attend the rollout ceremony.
From left: NASA administrator James Fletcher, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, Gene Roddenberry, NASA deputy administrator George Low; and Walter Koenig.
"Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"Abortive efforts to relaunch the TV series became - thanks to the success of "Star Wars" - a feature film franchise beginning in 1979. Takei recreated the role of Sulu in six films, including "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" in 1982 (left).
"Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home"The crew of the Enterprise travels back in time to 20th century San Francisco in the 1986 film, "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home."
"Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country"In "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" (1991), Sulu had risen in the ranks to captain, commander of the USS Excelsior.
"Return From the River Kwai"George Takei starred as Lieutenant Tanaka opposite Timothy Bottoms in the World War II drama, "Return From the River Kwai" (1989).
"Heroes"Takei's later roles included the paranormal TV series, "Heroes."
"Larry Crowne"No texting in class! In 2011 George Takei played an Economics professor in the Tom Hanks romantic comedy "Larry Crowne."
"The Big Bang Theory"George Takei was among several sci-fi luminaries who have made cameo appearances on the sit-com "The Big Bang Theory."
MarriedTakei married his longtime partner Brad Altman in 2008, and quickly embraced his role as a gay activist, even appearing as the first gay couple on "The Newlywed Game."
Left: Takei and Altman display their document permitting them to get married in West Hollywood, California on June 17, 2008.
New York City's Gay Pride ParadeActor George Takei rides down Fifth Avenue during the 2012 New York City Gay Pride Parade, June 24, 2012.
2013 Tribeca Film FestivalActor George Takei and Brad Takei attend the world premiere of "Bridegroom," during the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival on April 23, 2013 in New York City.
Internet StarTakei's advocacy of gay rights and same-sex marriage, his books (such as his 1995 autobiography, "To the Stars," and his August 2013 title, "Oh Myyy!: There Goes The Internet"), and the continuing popularity of "Star Trek" have led to a huge following on Twitter and on Facebook, where Takei's page has so far earned more than 4.3 million "likes."
"Allegiance"Takei's childhood experience at internment camps led to his starring in "Allegiance: A New American Musical." Created by Jay Kuo, Lorenzo Thione and Marc Acito (after a chance encounter with Takei led to talk of the Rohwer Relocation Center), the musical bowed in 2012 at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre.
"Allegiance""It's made for America," Takei told Miller. "We subtitle it, 'A New American Musical.' It's a story about America and our democracy, the glory of our democracy, but also its fallibility. It's important for Americans to know how vulnerable, how fragile our democracy is. And we need to improve and make our democracy truer, more real by knowing where we failed. It's a musical that teaches us that lesson."
For more info:
George Takei on Facebook and Twitter
"Allegiance: A New American Musical"
"Oh Myyy!: There Goes The Internet" by George Takei (Amazon)
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan