William Shatner

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William Shatner as Captain Kirk in Star Trek

William Shatner (born in Montreal, Quebec, March 22, 1931) is an actor, writer and musical performer. Shatner is most famous for his starring role as Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in the television show Star Trek from 1966 to 1969 and in seven of the subsequent movies. Shatner has written three books chronicling his experiences playing James T. Kirk and being a part of the Star Trek franchise.

He has since worked as a writer, producer, director, musician, and best-selling author.

Upon reaching his seventies, Shatner showed no signs of slowing down. His acting career reached a new peak when he won two Emmy Awards for portraying attorney Denny Crane in the television series The Practice and Boston Legal.

Early life

Shatner, of Ukrainian Jewish descent, attended Baron Byng High School in Montreal, Quebec, and earned a Bachelor's degree in commerce from Montreal's McGill University in 1952. Trained as a classical Shakespearean actor, he performed at the famed Shakespearean Stratford Festival of Canada in Stratford, Ontario before going to the United States to work. In 1954 he was cast as "Ranger Bill" on the popular Howdy Doody Show in the United States. His official movie debut was in the 1958 MGM film The Brothers Karamazov with Yul Brynner, in which Shatner starred as the pious Russian Orthodox monk Alexei (he had earlier appeared in a 1951 Canadian film entitled The Butler's Night Off). In 1959, he received good reviews when he took on the role of Robert Lomax in the Broadway production of The World of Suzie Wong. In 1962 he starred in Roger Corman's award winning movie "The Intruder." He also appeared in the Stanley Kramer film Judgment at Nuremberg, appeared in two episodes of the acclaimed science fiction anthology series The Twilight Zone, and starred in the unusual 1965 Gothic horror film Incubus; one of only two movies known to have all dialogue spoken in Esperanto, an artificial language developed in the 1880s.

Star Trek career

William Shatner was first cast as Captain James Tiberius Kirk for the second pilot of Star Trek, entitled "Where No Man Has Gone Before". He subsequently was contracted to play Captain Kirk for the Star Trek series and held the role from 1966 to 1969. In 1973, Shatner returned to the role of Captain Kirk, albeit only in voice, in the animated Star Trek series. He was slated to reprise the role of Kirk for Star Trek: Phase II, a follow-up series chronicling the second five-year mission of the Enterprise, but Star Trek: Phase II was cancelled in pre-production and expanded into Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Between 1979 and 1991, William Shatner played Captain Kirk in the six Star Trek films, and directed the fifth. In 1994, he returned to the role of Captain Kirk in Star Trek Generations (his character's final role, as Kirk was killed in the film).

In the summer of 2004, rumors circulated that the producers of Star Trek: Enterprise were considering bringing William Shatner back into the Trek fold. Reports in the media indicated that the idea was given serious thought, with series producer Manny Coto indicating in Star Trek Communicator magazine's October, 2004, issue that he was preparing a three-episode story arc for Shatner. Shortly thereafter, Enterprise was cancelled, likely ending all hope that Shatner would return to Star Trek.

Post-Star Trek career

Shatner had a long dry spell in the decade between the original Star Trek series and the first Trek film, which he believes was due to his being typecast as Captain Kirk, making it difficult to find other work. Moreover, his wife Gloria Rand left him and the Canadian actor, unfamiliar with California divorce laws, was all but wiped out financially. With very little money and acting prospects now, he lived in a truck bed camper until acting bit-parts turned into higher paying roles. Shatner refers to that period in his life as "That Period" as it was a humbling one, as he would take any odd job, including small party appearances to support his family. In 1970, Shatner appeared as the prosecutor in a PBS television film of the Broadway play The Andersonville Trial. Trial was directed by George C. Scott and received excellent reviews. He also took roles in made-for-TV productions, such as The Horror at 37,000 Feet. The dry spell ended for Shatner (and the other Star Trek cast members) when Paramount produced Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, under pressure from loyal fans of the series. Its success re-established Shatner as an actor, and Captain Kirk as a cultural icon.

While continuing to film the successful series of Star Trek movies, he returned to television in the 1980s, starring as a uniformed police officer in the T.J. Hooker series from 1982 to 1986; this show became a popular hit. He then hosted the popular dramatic reenactment series Rescue 911 from 1989 to 1996.

File:Shatner star.jpg
William Shatner's star on the Canadian Walk of Fame

As the unwilling central public figure of a widespread geek-culture of Trekkies, Shatner is often humorously critical of the sometimes "annoying" fans of Star Trek. He also has found an outlet in spoofing the cavalier, almost superhuman character persona of Captain Kirk, in films such as Airplane II: The Sequel (1982), National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 (1993) and Saturday Night Live, in which he advised Star Trek fans to "Get a life," repeating a popular catch-phrase. Shatner also appeared in the film Free Enterprise in 1998, in which he played himself and tried to dispel the Kirk image of himself from the view of the film's two lead characters.

Shatner has enjoyed success with a series of Tek science fiction novels. The first—published in 1990—was entitled TekWar. This popular series of books led to a number of television movies, in which Shatner played a role, and to a short-lived television series. In 1995 a first-person shooter game named William Shatner's TekWar was released, and was the first game to use the Build engine.

In the 1990s Shatner appeared in several plays on American National Public Radio, written and directed by Norman Corwin.

Shatner has appeared in several episodes of the television series 3rd Rock from the Sun as The Big Giant Head, a womanizing, substance-abusing, high ranking officer from the same alien planet as the show's protagonists. He was nominated for an Emmy for this role.

File:Shatner as Denny Crane.jpg
William Shatner as Denny Crane in Boston Legal

In 2004, Shatner was cast as the eccentric but highly capable attorney Denny Crane for the final season of the legal drama The Practice, for which he was awarded an Emmy, and then its subsequent spin-off, Boston Legal, for which he won a Golden Globe and an Emmy in 2005. With the 2005 Emmy win, Shatner became one of the few actors (along with co-star James Spader [as Alan Shore] and Kelsey Grammer [as Frasier Crane in Cheers and Frasier]) to win an Emmy award while playing the same character in two different series (even more rare, Shatner and Spader each won a second consecutive Emmy while playing the same character in two different series).

In late 2004, Shatner reserved a $200,000 seat to fly aboard Virgin Galactic's VSS Enterprise, and is expected to become a full-fledged astronaut when he flies into suborbital space in 2008, along with other paying passengers.

Family and other ventures

William Shatner has been married four times:

  1. To Gloria Rand in 1956; they divorced in 1969.
  2. To Marcy Lafferty in 1973; they divorced in 1994.
  3. To Nerine Kidd on November 15, 1997; died August 9, 1999; accidentally drowned in the couple's pool.
  4. To Elizabeth Martin on February 13, 2001.

Shatner has three daughters, Leslie, Lisabeth and Melanie, and a son, Daniel. Melanie is the proprietor of Dari, an upscale women's clothing boutique. She currently lives in Southern California.

In his spare time, Shatner enjoys breeding and showing American Saddlebreds and Quarter Horses. Shatner has a 360-acre (1.5 km²) horse farm in Kentucky named Bellreve, where he raises the winning horses.

Shatner is also the CEO of the Toronto, Ontario-based C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures company, which provided the special effects for the 1996 film Fly Away Home.

Musical tangents

Main article: William Shatner's musical career

William Shatner has had a much-parodied musical career, starting with the 1968 album The Transformed Man. His second studio album, Has Been, was released in 2004. Ben Folds acted as producer. Collaborating artists included Aimee Mann, Henry Rollins, Brad Paisley and Joe Jackson. Has Been features the single Common People, a cover version of the song by Pulp.


  • Prior to Star Trek, Shatner appeared together with Leonard Nimoy in the first season of The Man from U.N.C.L.E..
  • His Trek character was originally named "James R. Kirk", although some fans have suggested an alternate explanation: That his best friend, Gary Mitchell (Gary Lockwood), simply erred when he created a tombstone for Kirk in the episode Where No Man has Gone Before. The middle name "Tiberius" (derived from the name of the Roman Emperor) was established in Star Trek: The Animated Series (Episode: Bem), furthered in Star Trek novels, and officially validated in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
  • Shatner has recently been noted for his role in the Priceline.com commercials.
  • Shatner appeared with Leonard Nimoy in a famous advertising campaign for Western Airlines.
  • Shatner has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (for Television work) at 6901 Hollywood Blvd.
  • The Student Society Building at Montreal's McGill University was unofficially named after William Shatner after a student referendum, and contains a ceiling mounted sign in the lobby bearing his name. The University administrators have never officially accepted this name.
  • Like many Anglophones born in the largely French-speaking province of Québec, Shatner speaks French.
  • Shatner has been leading charity Paintball Scenario Games to raise money for his favorite charity, handicapped children.
  • Shatner has starred in a series of Kellogg's All-Bran cereal commercials in the UK and Canada.
  • Shatner's latest invention has been Invasion Iowa, a fake movie shot for a reality tv series on SpikeTV.
  • Fans of the horror movie Halloween might know that Michael Myers wears a William Shatner mask that is painted white.
  • When James Doohan died on July 20, 2005, Shatner became the oldest living Star Trek cast member at age 74, four days older than Leonard Nimoy (Nichelle Nichols was 72, George Takei 68, and Walter Koenig 68).
  • During separate appearances on the Howard Stern Show, Takei and Doohan both admitted to despising Shatner.
  • Shatner has also made about ten appearances on the Howard Stern Show, including a visit to the fictional "homo room" with Howard. Shatner consistently was a good sport during these appearances.
  • In episode #166 of the TV sitcom Night Court, the bald bailiff Bull resorts to wearing a toupee, "The Shatner 2000."
  • The character of Zapp Branigan in the TV series Futurama was conceived as a mixture of both Shatner and Kirk, with Branigan frequently exhibiting character traits associated with both. Ironically, Shatner himself - along with most of the rest of the surviving Star Trek cast - would appear in an episode during the series' final season.

Memorable quotes

"I'm not a Starfleet commander, or T.J. Hooker. I don't live on Starship NCC-170... (some audience members say "1"), or own a phaser. I don't know anybody named Bones, Sulu, or Spock (picture of Dr. Benjamin Spock is shown on screen behind him). And no, I've never had green alien sex, but I'm sure it'd be quite an evening. (Pomp and Circumstance begins playing.) I speak English and French, not Klingon! I drink Labatt's, not Romulan ale! And when someone says to me 'live long and prosper', I seriously mean it when I say, 'get a life'. My doctor's name is not McCoy, it's Ginsberg (nude picture of Dr. Ginsberg shown on screen). And tribbles were puppets, not real animals. PUPPETS! And when I speak, I never, ever talk like Every. Word. Is. Its. Own. Sentence. I live in California, but I was raised in Montreal. And I believe in priceline.com, where you never have to pay full price for airline tickets, hotels, and car rentals! I've appeared onstage at Stratford, at Carnegie Hall, Albert Hall, and the Monkland Theatre in NDG. And, yes, I've gone where no man has gone before, but... I was in Mexico and her father gave me permission! My name is William Shatner, and I am Canadian!"

—from a Just for Laughs appearance; a parody of the popular Molson Canadian Commercial entitled "I Am Canadian".

When asked if he wore a hairpiece: "It's a question that I find like asking somebody, 'Did you have a breast implant?' or 'When did you get your lobotomy?'"


Television Work

Shatner on The Twilight Zone



  • Tek series
See TekWar
  • Star Trek series, all with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
    • Star Trek: The Ashes of Eden, 1995, ISBN 0671520350
    • Star Trek: The Return, 1996, ISBN 0671526103
    • Star Trek: Avenger, 1997, ISBN 0671551329
    • Star Trek: Spectre, 1998, ISBN 0671008781
    • Star Trek: Dark Victory, 1999, ISBN 067100882X
    • Star Trek: Preserver, 2000, ISBN 0671021257
    • Star Trek: Captain's Peril, 2002, ISBN 0743448197
    • Star Trek: Captain's Blood, 2003, ISBN 067102129X
  • War series
    • Man o' War, 1996, ISBN 0399141316
    • The Law of War, 1998, ISBN 0399143602
  • Quest for Tomorrow series
    • Delta Search, 1997, ISBN 0061052744
    • In Alien Hands, 1997, ISBN 0061052752
    • Step into Chaos, 1999, ISBN 0061052760
    • Beyond the Stars, 2000, ISBN 0061051187
    • Shadow Planet, 2002, ISBN 0061051195
  • Comic book adaptations


  • Captain's Log: William Shatner's Personal Account of the Making of "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier", as told by Lisabeth Shatner, 1989, ISBN 0671686526
  • Star Trek Memories, with Chris Kreski, 1993, ISBN 0060177349
  • Star Trek Movie Memories, with Chris Kreski, 1994, ISBN 0060176172
  • Get a Life!, with Chris Kreski, 1999, ISBN 0671021311
  • Star Trek: I'm Working on That: A Trek from Science Fiction to Science Fact, with Chip Walker, 2002, ISBN 067104737X


  • The Transformed Man (Decca, 1968)
  • William Shatner Live (Lemli, 1977)
  • Spaced Out: The Very Best of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner (compilation) (Universal International, 1997)
  • Has Been (Shout! Factory, 2004)[1]

External links


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