Happy 75th birthday to one of the world’s greatest living scientific minds, Stephen Hawking! The world may know him best for his scientific accomplishments, but there’s another side of Hawking’s career that deserves attention: his growing list of acting credits. In honor of his birthday, I’ve assembled a list of five of his best cameos.
Hawking appears with fellow physicist Brian Cox in a music video for a new version of the Monty Python classic “The Galaxy Song”. I should tell you that the Cox appearance is rather brief, thanks to Hawking’s rather excellent navigational skills.
“The Big Bang Theory”
As you might imagine, Hawking is held in high esteem by Sheldon and the rest of the gang on “The Big Bang Theory”. Sheldon and Hawking communicate by phone and video chat a few times in the series, and eventually meet in person.
Hawking appeared in the episode “Anthology of Interest I” as one of the Vice President Al Gore’s Action Rangers. His fellow rangers include Dungeons & Dragons co-inventor Gary Gygax, and Nichelle Nichol (“Star Trek”’s Lieutenant Uhura).
A flying wheelchair-equipped Hawking has appeared many, many times on “The Simpsons”, most recently alongside faux folk comedy duo Flight of the Concords.
“Star Trek: The Next Generation”
In season six, android Data plays a round of poker against a holographic Hawking, Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton. Hawking tells what must pass for a real rib-tickler among high-level physicists. Poor Sir Isaac doesn’t get it because as Data explains, “The joke depends on an understanding of the relativistic curvature of space-time …”