About William Shatner
William Shatner is a Canadian actor, author, producer, and director. In his seven decades of television, Shatner became a cultural icon for his portrayal of James T. Kirk, Captain of the USS Enterprise, in the Star Trek franchise. He has written a series of books chronicling his experiences playing Captain Kirk and being a part of Star Trek, and has co-written several novels set in the Star Trek universe. He has written a series of science fiction novels called TekWar, which were adapted for television.
Shatner was born on March 22, 1931, in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, to Anne and Joseph Shatner, a clothing manufacturer.He has two sisters, Joy and Farla. His paternal grandfather, Wolf Schattner, anglicized the family name to “Shatner”. All of Shatner’s grandparents were Jewish immigrants (from Austria-Hungary, Ukraine and Lithuania) and he was raised in Conservative Judaism.
Shatner attended two schools in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Willingdon Elementary Schooland Westhill High School (NDG, Montreal), and is an alumnus of the Montreal Children’s Theatre. He studied Economics at the McGill University Faculty of Management in Montreal, Canada, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. In June 2011, McGill University awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Letters.
William Shatner Acting career
Upon graduating from McGill University in 1952, Shatner became the business manager for the Mountain Playhouse in Montreal before joining the Canadian National Repertory Theatre in Ottawa, where he trained as a classical Shakespearean actor. Shatner began performing at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, beginning in 1954. He played a range of roles at the Stratford Festival in productions that included a minor role in the opening scene of a renowned and nationally televised production of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex directed by Tyrone Guthrie, Shakespeare’s Henry V, and Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great, in which Shatner made his Broadway debut in 1956.
In 1954, he was cast as Ranger Bob on The Canadian Howdy Doody Show. Shatner was an understudy to Christopher Plummer; the two would later appear as adversaries in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
His movie debut was in the Canadian film, Butler’s Night Off (1951); Shatner’s first feature role came in the MGM film The Brothers Karamazov (1958) with Yul Brynner, in which he starred as the youngest of the Karamazov brothers, Alexei. In December 1958, he appeared opposite Ralph Bellamy, playing Roman tax collectors in Bethlehem on the day of Jesus’ birth in a vignette of a Hallmark Hall of Fame live television production entitled The Christmas Tree directed by Kirk Browning, which featured in other vignettes such performers as Jessica Tandy, Margaret Hamilton, Bernadette Peters, Richard Thomas, Cyril Ritchard, and Carol Channing. Shatner had a leading role in an Alfred Hitchcock Presents third-season (1957–1958) episode titled “The Glass Eye”, one of his first appearances on American television.
In 1959, he received good reviews when he played the role of Lomax in the Broadway production of The World of Suzie Wong. In March 1959, while performing on stage in Suzie Wong, Shatner was also playing detective Archie Goodwin in what would have been television’s first Nero Wolfe series, had it not been aborted by CBS after shooting a pilot and a few episodes. He appeared twice as Wayne Gorham in NBC’s Outlaws (1960) Western series with Barton MacLane, and then in another Alfred Hitchcock Presents fifth-season episode titled “Mother, may I go out to swim?” In 1961, he starred in the Broadway play A Shot in the Dark with Julie Harris and directed by Harold Clurman. Walter Matthau (who won a Tony Award for his performance) and Gene Saks were also featured in this play. Shatner featured in two episodes of the NBC television series Thriller (“The Grim Reaper” and “The Hungry Glass”) and the film The Explosive Generation (1961).
Guthrie had called the young Shatner the Stratford Festival’s most promising actor, and he was seen as a peer to contemporaries like Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Shatner was not as successful as the others, however, and during the 1960s he “became a working actor who showed up on time, knew his lines, worked cheap and always answered his phone”. His motto was “Work equals work”, but Shatner’s willingness to take any role, no matter how “forgettable”, likely hurt his career. He took the lead role in Roger Corman’s movie The Intruder (1962) and also appeared in the Stanley Kramer film Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) and two episodes, “Nick of Time” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”, of the science fiction anthology series The Twilight Zone. In the 1963–1964 season, he appeared in episodes of two ABC series, Channing and The Outer Limits (“Cold Hands, Warm Heart”). In 1963, he starred in the Family Theater production called “The Soldier” and received credits in other programs of The Psalms series. That same year, he guest starred in Route 66, in the episode, “Build Your Houses with Their Backs to the Sea”. In 1964, he guest starred in an episode of the CBS drama The Reporter (“He Stuck in His Thumb”). Also in 1964, he co-starred with Laurence Harvey, Claire Bloom, Paul Newman and Edward G. Robinson in the western film The Outrage.
Shatner guest-starred in 12 O’Clock High as Major Curt Brown in the segment “I Am the Enemy” and in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in an episode that also featured Leonard Nimoy, with whom Shatner would soon be paired in Star Trek in 1965. He also starred in the critically acclaimed drama For the People in 1965, as an assistant district attorney, costarring with Jessica Walter. The program lasted for only thirteen episodes. Shatner starred in the 1966 gothic horror film Incubus, the second feature-length movie ever made with all dialogue spoken in Esperanto. He also starred in an episode of Gunsmoke in 1966 as the character Fred Bateman. He appeared as attorney-turned-counterfeiter Brett Skyler in a 1966 episode of The Big Valley, “Time To Kill”. In 1967, he starred in the little known film White Comanche starring as two characters: Johnny Moon and his twin brother Notah.
William Shatner Movies
Shatner was cast as Captain James T. Kirk for the second pilot of Star Trek, titled “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. He was then contracted to play Kirk for the Star Trek series and held the role from 1966 to 1969. During its original run on NBC, the series pulled in only modest ratings and was cancelled after three seasons. In his role as Kirk, Shatner famously kissed actress Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) in the November 22, 1968, Star Trek episode, “Plato’s Stepchildren”. The episode is popularly cited as the first example of a kiss between a white man and a black woman on scripted television in the United States. In 1973, he returned to the role of Captain Kirk, albeit only in voice, in the animated Star Trek series.
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William Shatner in 1970s
After Star Trek got cancelled in early 1969, Shatner experienced difficulty in finding work in the early 1970s, having become somewhat typecast from his role as Kirk. Having very little money and few acting prospects, Shatner lost his home and lived in a truck bed camper in the San Fernando Valley until small roles turned into higher-paying jobs. Shatner refers to this part of his life as “that period”, a humbling time during which he would take any odd job, including small party appearances, to support his family.
Shatner appeared again in “schlock” films, such as Corman’s Big Bad Mama (1974) and the horror film The Devil’s Rain (1975),and the TV movie The Horror at 37,000 Feet, which many fans believe is his worst work. Shatner received good reviews as the lead prosecutor in a 1971 PBS adaptation of Saul Levitt’s play The Andersonville Trial. Other television appearances included a starring role in the western-themed secret agent series Barbary Coast during 1975 and 1976, and guest roles on many 1970s series such as The Six Million Dollar Man, Columbo, The Rookies, Kung Fu, Ironside and Mission: Impossible. A martial arts enthusiast, Shatner studied American Kenpo karate under black belt Tom Bleecker (who trained under the founder of American Kenpo Ed Parker).Shatner was an occasional celebrity guest on The $10,000 Pyramid and The $20,000 Pyramid in the 1970s, once appearing opposite Leonard Nimoy in a week-long match-up billed as “Kirk vs. Spock”. In a notable 1977 appearance he gave an illegal clue (“the blessed” for Things That Are Blessed; he intended to say “the Virgin Mary”) at the top of the pyramid ($200) which deprived the contestant of a big money win, and reacted strongly, throwing his chair out of the Winner’s Circle. Other shows included The Hollywood Squares, Celebrity Bowling, Beat the Clock, Tattletales, Mike Stokey’s Stump the Stars and Match Game. Richard Dawson, during an Archive of American Television interview, mentioned that Shatner was Mark Goodson’s first choice to host the Family Feud pilot in 1976, but gave the job to Dawson instead. He did a number of television commercials for Ontario-based Loblaws and British Columbia-based SuperValu supermarket chains in the 1970s,and finished the Loblaws ad spots by saying, “At Loblaws, more than the price is right. But, by Gosh, the price is right.” He also did a number of television commercials for General Motors, endorsing the Oldsmobile brand, and Promise margarine.
Kirk returns and T. J. Hooker
After its cancellation, Star Trek engendered a cult following during the 1970s from syndicated reruns, and Captain Kirk became a cultural icon. Shatner began appearing at Star Trek conventions organized by Trekkies. In the mid-1970s, Paramount began pre-production for a revised Star Trek television series, tentatively titled Star Trek: Phase II. However, the phenomenal success of Star Wars (1977) led the studio to instead consider developing a Star Trek motion picture. Shatner and the other original Star Trek cast members returned to their roles when Paramount produced Star Trek: The Motion Picture, released in 1979. He played Kirk in the next six Star Trek films, ending with the character’s death in Star Trek Generations (1994). Some later appearances in the role are in the movie sequences of the video game Starfleet Academy (1997), briefly for a DirecTV advertisement using footage from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country running from late summer 2006, and the 2013 Academy Awards, in which he reprised the role for a comedic interlude with host Seth MacFarlane.
Although Trekkies resurrected Star Trek after cancellation, in a 1986 Saturday Night Live sketch about a Star Trek convention, Shatner advised a room full of fans to “get a life”. The much-discussed sketch accurately portrayed his feelings about Trekkies, which the actor had previously discussed in interviews. Shatner had been their unwilling subject of adoration for years; as early as April 1968, a group attempted to rip his clothes off as the actor left 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and he stopped attending conventions for more than a decade during the 1970s and 1980s. 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. He also has found an outlet in spoofing the cavalier, almost superhuman, persona of Captain Kirk in films such as Airplane II: The Sequel (1982) and National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1 (1993). In 1994, he starred as the murderer in the Columbo episode “Butterfly in Shades of Grey”.
Besides the Star Trek films, Shatner landed a starring role on television as the titular police officer T. J. Hooker, which ran from 1982 to 1986. He then hosted the popular dramatic re-enactment series Rescue 911 from 1989 to 1996. During the 1980s Shatner also began directing film and television, directing numerous episodes of T. J. Hooker and the feature film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
William Shatner Subsequent Acting and Media Career
Shatner has enjoyed success with a series of science fiction novels published under his name, though most are widely believed to have been written by uncredited co-writers such as William T. Quick and Ron Goulart. The first, published in 1989, was TekWar, which Shatner claims he developed initially as a screenplay during a Writers Guild strike that delayed production of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. This popular series of books led to four TekWar television movies, in which Shatner played the role of Walter Bascom, the lead character’s boss. A short-lived television series followed, airing on USA Network and Sci-Fi Channel in the United States and CTV in Canada, in which Shatner made several appearances in the Bascom role and directed some of the episodes.
In 1995, a first-person shooter game named William Shatner’s TekWar was released. He also played as a narrator in the 1995 American documentary film Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie directed by Peter Kuran. He narrated a television miniseries shot in New Zealand A Twist in the Tale (1998). In the television series 3rd Rock from the Sun, Shatner appeared in several 1999–2000 episodes as the “Big Giant Head”, a high-ranking officer from the same alien planet as the Solomon family who becomes a womanizing party-animal on Earth. The role earned Shatner an Emmy Award nomination.
Shatner has appeared in advertisements for many companies and products. In the early 1980s he appeared in print and television ads endorsing the Commodore VIC-20 home computer. Since the late 1990s he has done a series of commercials for the travel web site priceline.com, in which Shatner plays a pompous, fictionalized version of himself. Although he received stock options for the commercials, Shatner says that reports that they are now worth hundreds of millions of dollars are exaggerated.Shatner was also the CEO of the Toronto, Ontario-based C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures, a special effects studio that operated from 1994 to 2010.
In May 1999, Simon & Schuster published Shatner’s book, Get a Life!, which details his experiences with Star Trek fandom, anecdotes from Trek conventions, and his interviews with dedicated fans, in particular those who found deeper meaning in the franchise.
Shatner co-starred in the movie Miss Congeniality (2000) as Stan Fields, playing the role of co-host of the Miss United States Pageant alongside future Boston Legal co-star Candice Bergen. He reprised the role in the sequel Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2004), in which Stan Fields was kidnapped in Las Vegas along with the winner of the pageant of the previous year. (Shatner hosted the Miss USA Pageant in 2001 as a real presenter in Gary, Indiana.) In the live-action/animated film Osmosis Jones (2001), he voiced Mayor Phlegmming, the self-centered head of the “City of Frank”, a community comprising all the cells and microorganisms of a man’s body who is constantly preoccupied with his reelection and his own convenience, even to the detriment of his “city” and constituents. In 2003, Shatner appeared in Brad Paisley’s “Celebrity” and “Online” music videos along with Little Jimmy Dickens, Jason Alexander, and Trista Rehn. Shatner also had a supporting role in the comedy DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story (2004), which starred Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. Star Trek: Enterprise producer Manny Coto stated in Star Trek Communicator’s October 2004 issue that he was preparing a three-episode story arc for Shatner. Shortly thereafter, Enterprise was cancelled.
After David E. Kelley saw Shatner’s commercials, he brought Shatner on to the final season of the legal drama The Practice. His Emmy Award-winning role, the eccentric but highly capable attorney Denny Crane, was essentially “William Shatner the man . . . playing William Shatner the character playing the character Denny Crane, who was playing the character William Shatner.” Shatner took the Crane role to Boston Legal, and won a Golden Globe, an Emmy in 2005, and was nominated again in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 for his work. With the 2005 Emmy win, Shatner became one of the few actors (along with co-star James Spader as Alan Shore) to win an Emmy Award while playing the same character in two different series. Even rarer, Shatner and Spader each won a second consecutive Emmy while playing the same character in two different series. Shatner remained with the series until its end in 2008.
She made several guest appearances on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, including cameos reciting Sarah Palin’s resignation speech, Twitter posts, and autobiography. (Palin herself made a cameo on the show in December 2009, reciting passages from Shatner’s autobiography, Up Til’ Now in front of Shatner himself.) He has also recited Twitter posts by Levi Johnston, father of Palin’s grandson. He also appears in the opening graphics of the occasional feature “In the Year 3000”, with his disembodied head floating through space, announcing, “And so we take a cosmic ride into that new millennium; that far off reality that is the year 3000”, followed by the tag line, “It’s the future, man.” He also played the voice of Ozzie the opossum in DreamWorks’ 2006 feature Over the Hedge.
In January 2007, Shatner launched a series of daily vlogs on his life called ShatnerVision on the LiveVideo.com website. In 2008, he launched his video blogs on YouTube in a project renamed “The Shatner Project.” Shatner also starred as the voice of Don Salmonella Gavone on the 2009 YouTube animated series The Gavones.
Shatner was not “offered or suggested” a role in the 2009 film Star Trek. Director J. J. Abrams said in July 2007 that the production was “desperately trying to figure out a way to put him in” but that to “shove him in … would be a disaster”, an opinion echoed by Shatner in several interviews. At a convention held in 2010, Shatner commented on the film by saying “I’ve seen that wonderful film.” Shatner had invented his own idea about the beginning of Star Trek with his 2007 novel, Star Trek: Academy — Collision Course. His autobiography Up Till Now: The Autobiography was released in 2008. He was assisted in writing it by David Fisher. Shatner has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (for television work) at 6901 Hollywood Boulevard. He also has a star on the Canada’s Walk of Fame. Shatner was the first Canadian actor to star in three successful television series on three different major networks (NBC, CBS, and ABC). He also starred in the CBS sitcom $#*! My Dad Says, which is based on the Twitter feed Shit My Dad Says created by Justin Halpern. The series premiered in late 2010 and was canceled May 2011. Shatner is also the host of the interview show Shatner’s Raw Nerve on The Biography Channel, and the Discovery Channel television series Weird or What? Also in 2011, Shatner appeared in the episode of Psych titled, “In For a Penny” on the USA Network as the estranged father of Junior Detective Juliet O’Hara (Maggie Lawson). He has signed on to continue the role into the 2012 season.
Shatner starred in The Captains, a feature-length documentary which he also wrote and directed in 2011, . The film follows Shatner as he interviews the other actors who have portrayed starship captains within the Star Trek franchise. Shatner’s interviewees included Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula, and Chris Pine. In the film, Shatner also interviews Christopher Plummer, who is an old friend and colleague from Shatner’s days with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.
In February 2012, Shatner performed in a new one-man show on Broadway, called Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It. After a three-week run at the Music Box Theatre, the show toured throughout the United States. In May 2012, Shatner was the guest presenter on the British satirical television quiz show Have I Got News for You, during which he coined the portmanteau “pensioneer”, combining the words “pensioner” and “pioneer”. On July 28, 2012, the premium cable TV channel Epix premiered Get a Life!, a documentary on Star Trek fandom starring Shatner that takes its title from his infamous Saturday Night Live line and his 1999 book on the topic.
On September 25, 2012, Shatner portrayed the home plate umpire in the music video “At Fenway”, which was written and recorded by crooner Brian Evans. Evans’ work is the first song to be written about Fenway Park to be licensed by Major League Baseball. On April 24, 2014 he performed for one night only an autobiographical one-man show on Broadway, which was later broadcast in over 700 theaters across Canada, Australia, and the United States. A large portion of the revenue went to charity.
In 2015, he played Mark Twain in an episode of the Canadian historical crime drama series Murdoch Mysteries. Also in 2015, he played Croatoan—main character Audrey Parker’s interdimensional, dangerous father—in the last episodes of the fifth and final season of SyFy channel’s fantasy series Haven.
Later in 2016, Shatner appeared in the NBC reality mini-series Better Late Than Never, which documented the adventures of Shatner and three other aging celebrities (Henry Winkler, Terry Bradshaw and George Foreman) as they travel to Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia. That same year, he cofounded the comic-book company Shatner Singularity, whose titles include the graphic novel Stan Lee’s ‘God Woke’ by Stan Lee and Fabian Nicieza. That work won the 2017 Independent Publisher Book Awards’ Outstanding Books of the Year Independent Voice Award.
Shatner appeared in the animated television series My Little Pony in 2017, Friendship Is Magic as the voice of Grand Pear, the estranged maternal grandfather of Applejack and her siblings, in the seventh season episode “The Perfect Pear”. Shatner noted himself as a “brony”, a member of the Friendship Is Magic fan base; he confirmed his involvement in the series via his Twitter account following a post where he recited one of the show’s catch phrases.
William Shatner Music and spoken-word work
Shatner began his musical career with the spoken-word 1968 album The Transformed Man, delivering exaggerated, interpretive recitations of “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” He performed a reading of the Elton John song “Rocket Man” during the 1978 Science Fiction Film Awards that has been widely parodied. Ben Folds, who has worked with him several times, produced and co-wrote Shatner’s well-received second studio album, Has Been, in 2004. His third studio album, Seeking Major Tom, was released on October 11, 2011. The fourth, Ponder the Mystery, was released in October 2013 on Cleopatra Records, produced and composed by musician Billy Sherwood (member of Yes). Shatner also has done a concert tour with CIRCA:, which includes an ex and current member of Yes, Tony Kaye and Billy Sherwood.
William Shatner Space Shuttle Discovery
Shatner recorded a wake-up call that was played for the crew of STS-133 in the Space Shuttle Discovery on March 7, 2011, its final day docked to the International Space Station. Backed by the musical theme from Star Trek, it featured a voice-over based on his spoken introduction from the series’ opening credits: “Space, the final frontier. These have been the voyages of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Her 30-year mission: To seek out new science. To build new outposts. To bring nations together on the final frontier. To boldly go, and do, what no spacecraft has done before.
William Shatner Personal life
Shatner dislikes watching himself perform, and says that he has never watched any Star Trek or Boston Legal television episodes nor any of the Star Trek movies except while editing Star Trek V: The Final Frontier which he directed, although his book Star Trek Memories makes reference to his having re-watched episodes of Star Trek.:201
William Shatner Age
He is 86 years old.
William Shatner Family
Shatner has been married four times. His first marriage, to Gloria Rand (née Rabinowitz), produced three daughters: Leslie (b. 1958), Lisabeth (b. 1960), and Melanie (b. 1964). Rand was a Canadian actress. Rand and Shatner married on August 12, 1956,.Shatner left Rand while he was acting in Star Trek: The Original Series, after which she divorced him in March 1969. The divorce was finalized in 1969. Shatner’s second marriage to Marcy Lafferty (daughter of producer Perry Lafferty) lasted from 1973 to 1996.
His third marriage was to Nerine Kidd Shatner, from 1997 until her death in 1999. On August 9, 1999, Shatner returned home around 10 p.m. to discover Nerine’s body at the bottom of their backyard swimming pool. She was 40 years old. An autopsy detected alcohol and Valium (diazepam) in her blood, but the coroner ruled the cause of death as an accidental drowning. The LAPD ruled out foul play, and the case was closed.
Speaking to the press shortly after his wife’s death, a clearly shaken and emotional Shatner said that she “meant everything” to him, and called her his “beautiful soulmate”. Shatner urged the public to support Friendly House, a nonprofit organization that helps women re-establish themselves in the community after suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction. He later told Larry King in an interview that “… my wife, whom I loved dearly, and who loved me, was suffering with a disease that we don’t like to talk about: alcoholism. And she met a tragic ending because of it.”
In his 2008 book Up Till Now: The Autobiography, Shatner discusses how Leonard Nimoy helped take Nerine to treatment for her alcoholism. Shatner writes in an excerpt from his book.
William Shatner Awards and honors
- Two-time Saturn Award winner
- Two-time Golden Raspberry Award winner
- Two-time Emmy Award winner
- 2005 Golden Globe Award winner
- 2009 Prism Award winner
- 2009:Streamy Award – Best Reality Web Series.
- Television Hall of Fame inductee (class of 2006).
- 2011 Governor General’s Performing Arts Award
- 2011: Honorary doctorate of Letters from McGill University, his alma mater.
- 2014: NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal – highest award NASA gives a non-government employee.”
- Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
- Star on Canada’s Walk of Fame
- 2015 VoiceArts® Icon Award. Voice Arts Awards