To Live Long and Prosper, Do What George Takei Does

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When George Takei talks about his childhood, he speaks of both anguish and beauty.

The actor best known as Sulu from “Star Trek” was only 5 when he and his family — like thousands of Japanese American citizens during World War II — were relocated from their Los Angeles home to a string of incarceration camps.

Takei captured some of his family’s wartime experiences — in a horse stall in Arcadia, Calif., a camp in Rohwer, Ark., another one in Northern California — in his picture book, “My Lost Freedom,” due out April 16. “This is an American story that Americans need to know about,” he said in a video call.

The book continues his mission to shed light on a dark chapter in U.S. history. It follows his 1994 autobiography “To the Stars,” his 2019 graphic memoir “They Called Us Enemy” and the 2015 musical production “Allegiance,” which was inspired by his life.

Takei, 86, discussed meeting dignitaries with his husband, Brad, as well as the keepsakes he treasures and his one healthy addiction. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

1

Seeing Your Work in Lights

I got a phone call that the marquee for “Allegiance” was going up at 8 a.m. Our apartment was so close to Longacre Theater, in Manhattan, we ran down there to see the letters being put there. It was thrilling — a life landmark experience! I wished both my parents could be there.

2

Big Band

At Rohwer, my father arranged to borrow a record player from the camp administration every couple of months, and after dinner, the tables were dragged away, the benches were put off to the side, and the teenagers got to have a dance. My bedtime music was the music from the mess hall. I still get a lump in my throat when I hear big band music from the 1940s.

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