Some Fourth of July trivia for you. Everyone knows that the 13 stripes on the American flag represent the original 13 colonies. But what about the 50 stars?
Most people assume it's the 50 states but hey, geniuses: there weren't 50 states yet when we invented flags in 1776. The stars are in tribute to the firmament of actors, singers, dancers and other personages from show business who make this country great. And when they ran out of room on the flag, the Founding Fathers took to immortalizing our stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Which brings us, as all good things do, to George Takei. In the current print edition of New Times, we ran a wide-ranging interview with Takei but there was so much he had to say that we are running more excerpts from that conversation all week. In this installment, Takei talks about the odd things that happen when you have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and about getting caught sneaking into a theater showing Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
"One of our favorite restaurants is Musso and Frank's on Hollywood Blvd.," Takei told us of his dining habits with his husband Brad. "It's the oldest restaurant in Hollywood; Clark Gable and Harold Lloyd used to go there. It's one of those places with nearly four dozen different items on the menu and they're all great. They make the best pancake with their own special batter and it's the best steak on Hollywood Blvd."
But of all the things to recommend the restaurant, there's also this from Takei: "My star happens to be right near there."
In case you're wondering, Takei swears he does not eat there so that he can keep an eye on his Walk of Fame star from his table.
"But one time we had an out-of-town visitor and we took him to dinner there," Takei said. "After, he asked to see the star so we took him over. There was a man nearby who saw me pointing it out and at the time, I remembered thinking, 'This must look terrible.' But it was just one man so I didn't worry too much about it. Then it seemed like wherever I went for a while, someone would come up to me and say, 'A friend of mine told me you wait around by your star and point it out to tourists.'"
Having a star on the Walk of Fame seems like more trouble than it's worth. Takei claims that he does not shoo away vagrants or keep a tub of star polish in the trunk of his car. He also said that he has never considered setting up a vibrating massage chair nearby with his autobiography on an end table for visitors who'd like to stay a while. But can he be believed? Does he spend his downtime on all fours in front of the Chinese Theatre, his hands stuck in their concrete imprints?
At first, he laughed this off as an absurdity. But then the truth came out.
"When Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country premiered, it premiered there. I wanted to see it with an audience so I phoned the house manager and asked if he'd let me come in after it started and watch from the back," he said. "The explosive cheer that went up when I came on screen as captain of the Excelsior was thrilling. But I stayed a tad bit too long so the fans saw me. They wanted to get pictures with me and eventually, we had to leave the theater so the next showing could start. So we were outside by the handprints and they wanted to take pictures of me with them."
So, had his hands changed in size since he originally made the prints?
"My waist is a little bigger but my hands were the same," Takei said.
And if you're interested in Takei's fitness routine, look no further than the next sentence.
"I've been a runner until about four years ago and [Miami] is terrific running," Takei said. "I've run all around Miami but the South Beach area is my favorite. I'm a preservationist. I've seen the transformation that area has made over the years. I remember when the Art Deco area was going a little seedy when I first got there. And in little increments, it has become one of the hottest, beautiful places you can be."
But at the risk of deflating your hopes for a warp speed Takei sighting in front of the Delano, he also said:
"But I'm 76 and there's this thing called the law of nature. And I'm a law-abiding guy. But I still do a fast walk."
We told him about Miami Beach running legend The Raven, the guy who has run eight miles every day since the start of 1975 while always wearing a single black glove.
"Oh myyy..." Takei said. "And how old is he?"
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"A youngster then. Everything is a matter of perspective."
And be sure to stop by tomorrow for more of Takei's perspective. We'll pick up again with all the latest on his upcoming Broadway musical and his tips for romance.
George Takei will appear at the Florida Supercon held at the Miami Airport Convention Center from July 4 through 7. For tickets and schedules, visit FloridaSupercon.com.