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William Shatner

William Shatner as Captain Kirk
William Shatner as Captain Kirk

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 Starship 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 Captain Kirk and being a part of the Star Trek franchise. He has since worked as a writer, producer, director, musician, and best-selling author.


Early life

Shatner attended high school in Regina, Saskatchewan 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 1959 he was given good reviews when he took on the role of Robert Lomax in the Broadway production of The World of Suzie Wong. 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 debuted in a 1951 Canadian film entitled The Butler's Night Off ). 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, the only movie known to have all of its dialogue spoken in Esperanto, an artificial language developed in the 1880s.

Star Trek career

William Shatner was first cast as Capt. 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 assume the role of Kirk for Star Trek: Phase II, a follow-up series regarding 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 one. In 1994, he returned to the role of Captain Kirk in Star Trek Generations. This was to be his character's final role as the character of Captain Kirk was killed in the film.

In the summer of 2004, rumors began circulating that the producers of Star Trek: Enterprise were considering bringing William Shatner back to Star Trek. Reports in the media indicated that the idea is being 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. It is not known if Shatner would be playing James T. Kirk, an ancestor of Kirk's, or an unrelated character. Playing Kirk again seems unlikely given Shatner is more than 10 years older than he was when he last played the role (making some sort of pre-Generations appearance by Kirk problematic). One potential stumbling block is his current commitment to another series on a rival network. Now that Enterprise has been cancelled a return to Star Trek is even more unlikely.

Post-Star Trek career

Shatner had a long dry spell in the decade between the original Star Trek series and the Star Trek movies, which he attributes to his being typecast as Captain Kirk, making him unable to find other work. He says this period 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 . This was directed by George C. Scott and received excellent reviews. 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 long 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.

William Shatner's star on the Canadian Walk of Fame
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 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, higher-ranked officer from the same alien planet as the show's protagonists. He was nominated for an Emmy for this role.

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 in 2005.

Family and other ventures

William Shatner has been married four times:

  1. Gloria Rand whom he married in 1956; they divorced in 1969.
  2. Marcy Lafferty whom he married in the fall of 1973; they divorced in 1994.
  3. Nerine Kidd whom he married on November 15, 1997; she drowned on August 9, 1999 at the couple's home.
  4. Elizabeth Martin whom he married 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

His musical album The Transformed Man (1968) has become a camp favorite. It includes spoken-word covers of "Mr. Tambourine Man" by Bob Dylan and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" by The Beatles. These early renditions are commonly bashed, such as when George Clooney named William Shatner's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" as one of his Desert Island Discs as an incentive to leave the island. He said, "If you listen to [this song], you will hollow out your own leg and make a canoe out of it to get off this island."

In 1978, Shatner hosted The Science Fiction Film Awards where he performed Elton John's "Rocket Man"[1].

In recent years, Shatner has been spoofing his earlier musical career, performing in the same style for a series of television commercials. One such commercial featured Shatner with frequent collaborator Ben Folds performing an irony-laden version of the Diana Ross hit, "Do You Know Where You're Going To?". In his appearance on the animated science-fiction TV series Futurama he recited Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady" song during a feast, spoofing his own "Lucy" chant. Shatner also appeared on Ben Folds' "In Love" (on the album ), a "song" about how love can go ever so wrong.

In the fall of 2004, he released a new album entitled Has Been, produced and arranged by Ben Folds and with songs composed by Shatner and Folds. The LP has been critically acclaimed for its unique "pop-driven" style. Its sole cover, a version of Pulp's "Common People" performed with Joe Jackson, has received good notices, often to the surprise of the reviewers.


  • Shatner appeared (before Star Trek) together with Leonard Nimoy in the first season of The Man from U.N.C.L.E..
  • In 1965 he starred in the Esperanto-language film Incubus.
  • Shatner appeared in two episodes of The Twilight Zone.
  • Shatner has recently been noted for his role in the commercials.
  • William Shatner has a TV star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6901 Hollywood Blvd.
  • The Student Society Building at McGill University is unofficially named after William Shatner, and contains a sign in the lobby bearing his name.
  • Recently Mr. Shatner has been leading charity Paintball Scenario Games to raise money for his favorite charity, handicapped children.
  • Most recently, William Shatner has starred in a series of Kellogg's All-Bran cereal commercials.
  • Shatner's latest invention has been Invasion Iowa, a fake movie being shot for a reality tv series on SpikeTV.

Memorable quotes

"I am not a Starfleet commander, or T.J. Hooker. I don't live on Starship NCC-170...[some audience members say "one"], or own a phaser. And I don't know anybody named Bones, Sulu, or Spock. And no, I've never had green alien sex, though I'm sure it would 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. 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 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, it is a parody of the popular Molson Canadian Commercial entitled "I Am Canadian".




  • Tek series
See TekWar



  • The Transformed Man (Decca, 1968)
  • William Shatner Live (Lemli, 1977)
  • Has Been (Shout! Factory, 2004)[2]

External links

Last updated: 10-20-2005 02:13:15
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