Canadian actor, author, producer, and director William Shatner OC ( was born March 22, 1932 in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood of Montréal, Québec, Canada. Shatner attended two schools in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Willingdon Elementary School and West Hill High School 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.
After 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;
His film debut was in the Canadian film Butler’s Night Off (1951). His 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 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, 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 the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “The Glass Eye. He also received good reviews when he played the role of Lomax in the 1959 Broadway production of The World of Suzie Wong. Shatner also portrayed detective Archie Goodwin in the cancelled Nero Wolfe series, and appeared twice as Wayne Gorham in NBC’s Outlaws (1960) Western series with Barton MacLane, he also appeared in another episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents “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. Shatner was considered the Stratford Festival’s most promising actor, alongside Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford. In 1962 Shatner had the lead role in Roger Corman’s movie The Intruder and appeared in the Stanley Kramer film Judgment at Nuremberg plus two episodes, of the science fiction anthology series The Twilight Zone “Nick of Time” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” In 1963, he starred in the Family Theater production called “The Soldier” and received credits in other programs of The Psalms series.
He also guest-starred in Route 66, in the episode “Build Your Houses with Their Backs to the Sea.” In 1964, Shatner guest-starred in The Outer Limits episode “Cold Hands, Warm Heart” as an astronaut returning from a mission and discussing a planned mission to Mars called “Project Vulcan”. He also appeared in an the drama The Reporter (“He Stuck in His Thumb”) and co-starred with Laurence Harvey, Claire Bloom, Newman, and Edward G. Robinson in the Western feature film The Outrage. In 1965, 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 (who would soon portray the above-referenced Mr. Spock). He also starred in the critically acclaimed drama For the People in 1965, as an assistant district attorney alongside Jessica Walter. In 1966 Shatner starred in the gothic horror film Incubus And also starred in an episode of Gunsmoke as 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 White Comanche as Johnny Moon and his twin brother Notah.
Shatner was cast as Captain James T. Kirk for the second pilot of Star Trek, titled “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and remained in the role for three seasons until 1969. In his role as Kirk, Shatner famously kissed actress Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) in the episode, “Plato’s Stepchildren”. In 1973 He also voiced Captain Kirk, in the animated Star Trek series. Shatner Appeared as the lead prosecutor in a 1971 PBS adaptation of Saul Levitt’s play The Andersonville Trial and also appeared in “schlock” films, such as Roger Corman’s Big Bad Mam, the horror film The Devil’s Rain and the TV movie The Horror at 37,000 Feet. Other television appearances included a starring role in the western-themed secret agent series Barbary Coast during plus guest roles on The Six Million Dollar Man, Columbo, The Rookies, Kung Fu, Ironside and Mission: Impossible. Shatner appeared on The $10,000 Pyramid and The $20,000 Pyramid once opposite opposite Leonard Nimoy billed as “Kirk vs. Spock”. Other appearances included The Hollywood Squares, Celebrity Bowling, Beat the Clock, Tattletales, Mike Stokey’s Stump the Stars and Match Game. Shatner was original choice to host the Family Feud pilot in 1976, but gave the job to Richard Dawson instead
A revised Star Trek television series was planned in the 1970’s, 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. He made Some later appearances in the role are in the movie sequences of the video game Starfleet Academy and the 2013 Academy Awards, as CaptIan Kirk during a comedic interlude with host Seth MacFarlane. Trekkies resurrected Star Trek after cancellation, in a 1986 Saturday Night Live sketch about a Star Trek convention. In 1998 Shatner also appeared in the film Free Enterprise and also parodied the cavalier, almost superhuman, persona of Captain Kirk in films such as Airplane II: The Sequel (1982) and National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon. In 1994, he starred in the Columbo episode “Butterfly in Shades of Grey”.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 which won a People’s Choice Award for the Favorite New TV Dramatic Series. Shatner also directed numerous episodes of T. J. Hooker and the feature film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Shatner also appeared in 3rd Rock from the Sun as the “Big Giant Head” for which he earned an Emmy award and also starred as attorney Denny Crane in The Practice and Boston Legal, which earned him two more Emmy Awards. Shatner is currently filming the second season of the comical NBC real-life travelogue “Better Late Than Never.”
William Shatner has also written a series of books chronicling his experiences playing Captain Kirk and being a part of Star Trek, and has co-written several science fiction novels set in the Star Trek universe. He has also written a series of science fiction novels called TekWar published in 1989 Which became popular and were adapted into four TekWar television movies, in which Shatner played the role of Walter Bascom, the lead character’s boss. 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)
William Shatner has also appeared in a number of television commercials and adverts for many companies and products including Ontario-based Loblaws and British Columbia-based SuperValu supermarket General Motors, Oldsmobile and Promise margarine. He has also endorsed the Commodore VIC-20 home computer and done a series of commercials for the travel web site priceline.com. 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.
In 2000 Shatner co-starred in the movie Miss Congeniality as Stan Fields 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”. 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 starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn.
Shatner also appeared in the final season of the legal drama The Practice portraying the eccentric but highly capable attorney Denny Crane, for which he won an Emmy. He then portrayed Crane in 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. Shatner and Spader each won a second consecutive Emmy while playing the same character in two different series. Shatner made several guest appearances on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, including cameos reciting Sarah Palin’s resignation speech, He also appears in the opening graphics of the occasional feature “In the Year 3000”. He also played the voice of Ozzie the opossum in DreamWorks’ 2006 feature Over the Hedge. In 2007, Shatner launched a series of daily vlogs on his life called ShatnerVision on http://www.LiveVideo.com which was renamed “The Shatner Project. Shatner also starred as the voice of Don Salmonella Gavone on the 2009 YouTube animated series The Gavones. Shatner did not appear the 2009 film Star Trek as Director J. J. Abrams could not think of a plausible reason for him to appear
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, and 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. Shatner also appeared in Psych in The he episode, “In For a Penny” on the USA Network as the estranged father of Junior Detective Juliet O’Hara (Maggie Lawson).
In 2011, Shatner starred in The Captains, a feature-length documentary which he also wrote and directed. 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.
Shatner has also worked as a musician and 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. Shatner also has done a concert tour with CIRCA:, which includes an ex and current member of Yes, Tony Kaye and Billy Sherwood.
Shatner also 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 is also an author; screenwriter and director; celebrity pitchman; and a passionate owner, trader, breeder, rider, and aficionado of horses.