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16 Reasons We Love George Takei

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George Takei may be best known for his role as Mr. Sulu on Star Trek. But there's far more to Takei than manning the helm of the USS Enterprise—here are 16 reasons we love him.

1. He Has a Nice Asteroid

In 2007, the asteroid formerly known as "1994 GT9" got a star makeover with its new name: 7307 Takei. Occupying a lovely neighborhood between Mars and Jupiter, 7307 Takei joins asteroids named for fellow Star Trek legends Gene Roddenberry (4659 Roddenberry) and Nichelle Nichols (68410 Nichols). Upon learning of the honor, Takei told the Associated Press, "I am now a heavenly body."

2. He's a Dutiful Son

Takei's 1994 autobiography, To the Stars, is dedicated "To Daddy," and it opens with a remembrance of Takei's childhood years spent with his Japanese-American family in several internment camps during World War II. Takei wrote about his mother's attitude during the train journey to the first camp:

...[We] all faced an unknown future, but the reality before us had to be dealt with. She was determined to make her own certainty out of our collective uncertainty. As certain as the rice balls she had wrapped in seaweed and packed in her hand luggage to supplement the cold train box lunches. She was not going to yield to the monotony that others accepted as inevitable. She had stuffed into her limited luggage space special treats for the children; a few lollipops, packages of animal crackers, and Cracker Jack boxes that contained little surprise toys. She packed story books for Daddy to read to us. Boredom was a foe she was determined to fight.

And she didn't just pack snacks—she smuggled in a portable sewing machine to make new clothes as the kids grew! Decades later, Takei and his husband Brad brought "Mama" into their home and cared for her in her final years. This devotion was even mentioned in Takei's wedding vows.

3. He Played the Father of Heroes Hero "Hiro"

On the TV series Heroes, Takei played Kaito Nakamura, the father of the time/space-bending Hiro Nakamura. Takei's character rolls up in a limo bearing the license plate NCC-1701 (the registry number of the original USS Enterprise). "Nakamura" happens to be the maiden name of Takei's mother, Fumiko Emily Nakamura. (It's unclear whether this is just a coincidence; Nakamura is a common Japanese surname.)

4. He and His Brother are Named After Kings

George Takei was born on April 20, 1937. His parents settled on the name "George" in honor of King George VI of England, whose coronation was just weeks away. (George Takei's middle name is Hosato, Japanese for "village of the bountiful harvest.")

When George's brother was born a year later, he was named Henry after King Henry VIII. Their sister was born two years later, and was given the name Nancy, after a family friend, with the middle name Reiko, Japanese for "gracious child." (Given enough time, we may see a Queen Nancy. You just wait.)

5. His Husband Brad is Rad

George Takei has been with Brad Altman for over 20 years. After California overturned its ban on same-sex marriage, Takei and Altman promptly applied for a marriage license and were married on September 14, 2008. Takei posted their vows online, along with photos of the ceremony. Walter Keonig, Star Trek's Chekov, was their best man; Nichelle Nichols, Uhura, was the matron of honor.

Altman told Larry King, "I'm not a spokesperson for any cause. I just know that George and I love each other, George is the love of my life, and I think everybody should be allowed to get married." Here's the happy couple explaining how married couples should fill out census forms:

6. He Speaks Out About the Injustice of WWII Japanese American Internment

During World War II, FDR made an Executive Order to round up and imprison roughly 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent. They were forced to live in ten concentration camps, despite about two-thirds of them being American citizens. George Takei and his family were interned when George was young, and he has written extensively about the experience, most recently creating a musical called Allegiance that explores this dark chapter in American history. He also co-founded the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

In 2004, the Japanese government awarded Takei the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette to honor his lifelong work promoting U.S.-Japan relations. He wrote, "Never in my wildest imagination did I think I would be flying to Tokyo to be granted a decoration by the Emperor of Japan in the Imperial Palace for activities I enjoyed and found personally engaging."

7. He Blames/Thanks Howard Stern for "Oh Myyy!"

George Takei is indelibly linked with the phrase, "Oh myyy!" intoned in his rich voice. In Takei's book Oh Myyy! (There Goes The Internet), Takei credits Howard Stern for associating him with the phrase. Takei wrote:

Howard also seemed to have fallen in love with me saying “Oh my!” whenever he said or did something outrageous, like when he asked one voluptuous young woman on his show to take her bra off. “Oh my!” What else could I say? It was even more apt when she did. “Oh my!” indeed. Howard, for some unfathomable reason, thought my reflexive “Oh my!” was hilarious. So he played a recording of it over and over again — even when I wasn’t on the show. I thought it was silly, but it was also admittedly quite droll.

I first realized “Oh my!” was becoming personally linked with me when I went on a national book tour for To the Stars. Young men who had patiently stood in line for my autograph would slip the book toward me with roguishly insinuating smiles and ask me to sign it with “Oh my!” I knew right away they were Howard Stern fans and realized then that it had become my signature phrase.

Takei now releases his books via his own publisher, Oh Myyy! Limited Liability Company.

8. He Has His Own Signature Fragrance

Bearing the slogan "Set Phasers to Stunning," George Takei's Eau My cologne is a real product. It's a unisex fragrance with "top notes of mandarin zest, Italian bergamot, and fresh ozone." Hmm. The Mary Sue reviewed the fragrance, noting, “It smells like something I should like, but don’t.”

9. He Played a Heart on Adventure Time

Takei voiced the memorable character Ricardio, a "wizard heart" on Adventure Time. Naturally, Ricardio utters Takei's catchphrase:

10. His Favorite Star Trek Episode is "The Naked Time"

It's hard for me to pick a favorite Star Trek episode. Should I go with "The Trouble With Tribbles," or "Amok Time," or maybe "Mirror, Mirror"? For Takei, the choice is obvious: "The Naked Time" is tops. In the episode, crew members lose their inhibitions after being infected by a form of space madness. Naturally, this leads to a shirtless, swashbuckling Sulu having a great time. You can watch "The Naked Time" on Hulu for free, or just enjoy Takei discussing the episode (and his fencing training) here:

11. He's a Former Marathon Runner

Takei doesn't just fence; he has run a bunch of marathons as well! He earned his best time in 1989, completing the LA Marathon in 3 hours, 40 minutes. (As a point of comparison, the average marathon time for men in the U.S. is about 4:26...and Takei was over age 50 when he ran that 1989 race!)

He stopped running marathons just a few years later, but reflected on the experience in 2006, writing:

It has been fifteen years since my last and final marathon. That was the London Marathon back in 1991. Since that punishing run, I have become a steadfast follower of, what is called, the Law of Nature. It decrees that as time passes, the mind is supposed to grow with insights as the body gives up its strength. It didn't take my mind to inform my body that the latter is true. I can't run 26.2 miles anymore. My days of running marathons are over.

12. He Writes Epic Amazon Product Reviews

In his spare time, Takei writes reviews of Amazon products, giving us a glimpse of his hilariously-imagined home life. Here's a snippet from his one-star review of an inflatable horn for cats (emphasis added):

Their easy, idyllic life changed—and ours along with it—when Brad ordered ACCOUTREMONTS INFLATABLE UNICORN HORNS FOR CATS. Surprisingly, our cats didn't resist and seemed almost *delighted* when we strapped the horns on. Once anointed, they sat straight up, gazing pensively at one another, their eyes aglow with a preternatural light. They tipped their heads to the left and to the right before commencing an eerie combination of mewling and rapid jaw chattering ordinarily reserved for moths spotted in the yard.

Soon things began to happen. Inexplicable things. The neighbor's dog was found immobilized, trussed-up with some indeterminate golden binding, a warning sign scrawled above him, "Do not crosses the THREE." A heretofore undiscovered hotspring bubbled up from beneath our yard and now transverses our property. Our clothes began to emerge from the dryer already pressed and folded, and the vet's office mysteriously called to confirm we had intended to cancel their next appointments. But we had not.

His review of "canned unicorn meat" is similarly amazing, including a spot-on Harry Potter reference.

13. He Broke the Star Trek/Star Wars Barrier

In 2009, Takei voiced a character for the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. This marked the first time a Trek series regular had appeared in the Star Wars universe. This unique position led to him to call for "Star Peace" in a YouTube video:

He stepped up the Star Peace effort by pulling an April Fools' prank in 2013, posting a photo of himself as a Jedi (complete with robe and lightsaber!) and writing:

Friends, I am thrilled to announce that I'll be starring in the Star Wars reboot directed by JJ Abrams. I'll be playing Master Ceti Maru, a member of the Jedi High Council. The new film, entitled "Star Wars: Galactic Empire," is greenlit and will begin filming sometime early next year. It is truly a moment for The Star Alliance. Thanks to all my fans for their decades of support.

Alas, this was just a joke. But, wow, I'd watch that.

14. He Hosts a YouTube Show for the Over-50 Set

Although Takei's Facebook and Twitter streams are his main online outlets, he also hosts a YouTube show called Takei's Take, explaining technology. The show is sponsored by AARP. In the episode below, Takei explains online dating. "Oh my!"

15. He's a Supporter of "Takei Marriage"

After the Tennessee legislature brought up a bill that would prohibit teachers from discussing homosexuality in the classroom, Takei took action. The bill was popularly known as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, and Takei suggested that instead of saying "gay," people could simply use the word "Takei" instead. Here's his public service announcement explaining the situation:

The Tennessee bill failed to pass, then returned in 2013...and failed again.

16. He's a Captain Now

In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, we learned that Mr. Sulu had become Captain Sulu. Yes, he commanded the USS Excelsior, the first Star Trek ship with a transwarp drive. Here's to you, Captain Sulu!

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ZUMA Press, Inc., Alamy
5 Fascinating Facts About Koko the Gorilla
ZUMA Press, Inc., Alamy
ZUMA Press, Inc., Alamy

After 46 years of learning, making new friends, and challenging ideas about language, Koko the gorilla died in her sleep at her home at the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, California on June 21, 2018. Koko first gained recognition in the late 1970s for her ability to use sign language, but it was her friendly personality that made her a beloved icon. Here are five facts you should know about the history-making ape.

1. SHE KNEW OVER 1000 SIGNS.

Francine "Penny" Patterson, then a graduate student at Stanford University, was looking for an animal subject for her inter-species animal communication experiment in the early 1970s when she found a baby gorilla at the San Francisco Zoo. Originally named Hanabiko (Japanese for "fireworks child," a reference to her Fourth of July birthdate), Koko took to signing quickly. Some of the first words Koko learned in "Gorilla Sign Language," Patterson's modified version of American Sign Language, were "food," "drink," and "more." She followed a similar trajectory as a human toddler, learning the bulk of her words between ages 2.5 and 4.5. Eventually Koko would come to know over 1000 signs and understand about 2000 words spoken to her in English. Though she never got a grasp on grammar or syntax, she was able to express complex ideas, like sadness when watching a sad movie and her desire to have a baby.

2. SHE CHANGED WHAT WE KNEW ABOUT LANGUAGE.

Not only did Koko use language to communicate—she also used it in a way that was once only thought possible in humans. Her caretakers have reported her signing about objects that weren't in the room, recalling memories, and even commenting on language itself. Her vocabulary was on par with that of a 3-year-old child.

3. SHE WASN'T THE ONLY APE WHO SIGNED.

Koko was the most famous great ape who knew sign language, but she wasn't alone. Michael, a male gorilla who lived with Koko at the Gorilla Foundation from 1976 until his death in 2000, learned over 500 signs with help from Koko and Patterson. He was even able to express the memory of his mother being killed by poachers when he was a baby. Other non-human primates have also shown they're capable of learning sign language, like Washoe the chimpanzee and Chantek the orangutan.

4. SHE HAD FAMOUS FRIENDS.

Koko received many visitors during her lifetime, including some celebrities. When Robin Williams came to her home in Woodside, California in 2001, the two bonded right away, with Williams tickling the gorilla and Koko trying on his glasses. But perhaps her most famous celebrity encounter came when Mr. Rogers paid her a visit in 1999. She immediately recognized him as the star of one of her favorite shows, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and greeted him by helping him take off his shoes like he did at the start of every episode.

5. SHE WAS A LOVING CAT MOM.

Koko was never able to have offspring of her own, but she did adopt several cats. After asking for a kitten, she was allowed to pick one from a litter for her birthday in 1985. She named the gray-and-white cat "All Ball" and handled it gently as if it were her real baby, even trying to nurse it. She had recently received two new kittens for her 44th birthday named Ms. Gray and Ms. Black.

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NBC Universal
12 Wild Facts About The Jerry Springer Show
NBC Universal
NBC Universal

Trash TV will never be the same: NBC Universal just announced that after more than a quarter-century on the air, The Jerry Springer Show has been canceled. Springer, the former mayor of Cincinnati, has taped more than 4000 episodes over the course of 27 seasons, and featured more than 35,000 guests. Because the format allowed for crass topics and guests who weren’t afraid to throw chairs at each other, in the late 1990s the show’s ratings topped Oprah Winfrey’s. Over the years, guests have accused the producers of staging and encouraging the fights for ratings. Still, it’s been popular enough to remain on the air since September 30, 1991. Here are 12 final thoughts about the controversial talk show.

1. THE FIRST SEASON TAPED IN CINCINNATI.

Before he stepped in front of the cameras, Springer’s main gig was in politics. He (unsuccessfully) ran for Congress in 1970, but was elected to Cincinnati’s city council a year later. In 1977, he served as the city’s mayor for one year and made a run for governor in 1982, but was derailed by a sex scandal.

In September 1991, Cincinnati NBC affiliate WLWT needed to replace The Phil Donahue Show, so they tapped Springer to host his own politically-focused daytime talk show, The Jerry Springer Show. At the same time, he was also appearing as a nighttime co-anchor on WLWT. In 1992, Springer moved The Jerry Springer Show to Chicago; he flew back and forth between Cincy and Chicago every day so that he could continue hosting his nightly broadcast. But in 1993 he resigned from Channel 5, after the ratings slid

2. TWO ANCHORS QUIT BECAUSE SPRINGER APPEARED ON THEIR NEWS SHOW.

In 1997, Springer began a temporary job on Chicago’s WMAQ as a news commentator. Anchor Carol Marin, who had worked at the station for 19 years, refused to share airtime with Springer and quit the show. “I am sorry she found it necessary this week to use me as the stepping stone to martyrdom,” Springer said at the time. In solidarity with Marin’s decision, co-anchor Ron Magers departed a few weeks later. Dozens of people from religious and women’s organizations protested the station’s nighttime addition as well.

The heat ended up being too much for the station; in May 1998, it dropped the Springer Show, though a Fox affiliate quickly snatched it up. To cover costs, they had to air the show not once, but twice a day.

3. SECURITY DIRECTOR STEVE WILKOS THOUGHT HIS JOB WAS A “ONE-TIME GIG.”

The show hired Steve Wilkos, a former Chicago cop and marine, for a 1994 KKK-themed episode. “The pay was good and I figured it was a one-time gig,” Wilkos told Mediaweek. “But I ended up doing another show, and another, and before I knew it, I was hired as the full-time director of security. So, I left my career as a cop to give this a shot.”

Eventually, Wilkos gave advice on a “Steve to the Rescue” segment, and started subbing for Springer when the host went off to appear on Dancing with the Stars. That led to Wilkos getting his own show, The Steve Wilkos Show, in 2007.

4. THE SHOW WAS TARGETED BY THE GOVERNMENT.

In 1998, at the peak of the show’s popularity, education secretary William Bennett and Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman spoke at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention and implored broadcasters to remove the program from their schedules. “Drop it, or if you won’t drop it, urge the producers to clean up the show,” Lieberman pleaded.

“We’re here for three reasons,” Bennett added. “The first is to remind broadcasters of the high standards they once had; the second is to remind people in the business how low much of it has sunk, and also to remind people of the enormous influence and responsibility they wield.”

“The kind of perversity and violence on that show every day has to have a bad effect on the people and children who watch it,” Lieberman said. “Springer is not a network show. You make the decision to carry it. It’s not worth it … If you can’t do that, at least put it on late at night so that fewer kids are watching.”

5. SPRINGER STARRED IN HIS OWN MOVIE.

At the apex of his popularity, Springer played a talk show host named Jerry Farrelly in the 1998 box office and critical bomb Ringmaster. The movie, like Springer's talk show, involved love triangles and cheating. It did win Springer an award, though: a Razzie for Worst New Star.

6. RELIGIOUS LEADERS FORCED THE SHOW TO TONE DOWN ITS VIOLENCE.

Under pressure from Chicago religious leaders, executives from The Jerry Springer Show promised to reduce the violence, though the fights are what helped it topple Oprah in the daytime talk show ratings. “We don’t want to take away from the show—we just think that Jerry will be able to do this show a different way,” Greg Meidel, the chief executive of then-distributor Studio USA, told the Los Angeles Times in 1998. “It will still be confrontational, it will still be unpredictable, you will still sense the conflict. You will still see yelling and screaming. But we’re not going to show anyone getting hit.”

A spokeswoman for the religious Community Renewal Society felt it was a “partial victory,” but she also called for the cursing and poor treatment of women to be toned down.

7. AUSTIN POWERS PARODIED SPRINGER.

In the opening of 1999’s Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Scott Evil (Seth Green) appears on The Jerry Springer Show—Springer cameos as himself—and confronts his father, Dr. Evil, who plots to take over the world. In typical Springer Show fashion, a fight breaks out and a lot of cursing spews from the guests’ mouths.

8. ONE FEATURED LOVE TRIANGLE ENDED IN A MURDER.

In 2000, during an episode called “Secret Mistresses Confronted,” a husband, his new wife, and his ex-wife appeared on the show and got into a tiff. The newlyweds accused the ex, Nancy Campbell-Panitz, of stalking them. But hours after the episode aired, a friend of Campbell-Panitz discovered her dead, beaten body inside her home. Eventually, Campbell-Panitz's ex-husband and his new wife turned themselves in. In 2002 the case went to trial and the court found the ex-husband, Ralf Panitz, guilty of second-degree murder. He is currently serving a life sentence in prison.

9. SPRINGER ELIMINATED THE WORD “TRANNY.”

The Jerry Springer Show was one of the first talk shows to focus on transgender issues, but he regularly referred to his guests as “trannies,” like in a 2014 episode named “Trannies Twerk it Out.” The LGBT community felt it was time to phase out that word, and Springer immediately obliged. “I didn’t know it was offensive to them and I’m not interested in offending people, so obviously I’ll just change the term,” he told The Huffington Post. “There’s no argument there.”

10. THE SHOW PRODUCED A CONTROVERSIAL EPISODE ON BESTIALITY.

A 1998 episode entitled “I Married a Horse” featured a British man who married his horse. Cameras went overseas to film the man and his “wife.” A disclaimer opened the segment: “Sexual contact with animals is illegal in this country and most of the Western world. This is the first film to examine a subject which many find deeply disturbing.” Some stations found the episode so disturbing that they refused to air it, opting instead to broadcast a rerun of “Past Guests Do Battle.”

11. IT WAS TURNED INTO AN OPERA (WHICH ALSO CREATED CONTROVERSY).

A musical version of the show, Jerry Springer: The Opera, debuted in London in April of 2003 and toured the UK in 2006. The production drew ire from the Christian community, because it included actors playing God, Satan, and Jesus, and the actors uttered about 8000 obscenities. When the BBC decided to air a performance in 2005, 45,000 angry viewers contacted the station about the show’s content. But, that didn’t prevent the opera from expanding to the U.S. In 2007, Las Vegas became the first American city to welcome the show. In 2008, Harvey Keitel played Springer in a two-day New York City performance.

12. SPRINGER MOVED THE SHOW TO STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT—AND RESIDENTS WEREN'T HAPPY.

In 2009, after spending 17 years in Chicago, The Jerry Springer Show moved to the east coast and besieged the idyllic town of Stamford, because Connecticut offered tax breaks and built the Stamford Media Center to create a local entertainment industry. Springer’s arrival was met with protests from the community.

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