|Other names||Bill Shatner|
|Education||McGill University (BComm)|
(m. 1956; div. 1969)
(m. 1973; div. 1996)
(m. 1997; d. 1999)
(m. 2001; div. 2020)
|Children||3; including Melanie|
|Honours||Officer, Order of Canada |
William "Bill" Shatner(born March 22, 1931) is a Canadian actor, author, producer, director, screenwriter, and singer. In his seven decades of acting, he became a cultural icon for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in the Star Trek franchise. As of 2021, William Shatner is one of the surviving cast members from the original Star Trek series, alongside Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Walter Koenig. He has written a series of books chronicling his experiences playing Captain Kirk, being a part of Star Trek, and life after Star Trek. Shatner has also co-written several novels set in the Star Trek universe, and a series of science fiction novels called TekWar, that were adapted for television.
Shatner also played the eponymous veteran police sergeant in T. J. Hooker (1982–1986) and hosted the reality-based television series Rescue 911 (1989–1996), which won a People's Choice Award for Favorite New TV Dramatic Series. Shatner also featured in two episodes of the television detective series Columbo almost two decades apart. He also appeared in seasons 4 and 5 of the NBC series 3rd Rock from the Sun as the alien "Big Giant Head" to which the main characters - also alien - reported. From 2004 until 2008, he starred as attorney Denny Crane both in the final season of the legal drama The Practice and in its spinoff series Boston Legal, a role that earned him two Emmy Awards. He appeared in both seasons of the comical NBC real-life travelogue with other male companions "of a certain age" in Better Late Than Never, from 2016 to 2018. Shatner has also pursued a career in music and spoken word recordings since the late 1960s, having released eight albums.
Shatner was born in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood of Montreal, Quebec, Canada to a Conservative Jewish household. His parents were Ann (née Garmaise) 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 four of Shatner's grandparents were Jewish immigrants. They came from Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire (from locations in present-day Ukraine and Lithuania).
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. Shatner was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters from New England Institute of Technology in May 2018.
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 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's 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. Shatner was an understudy to Christopher Plummer in Henry V, which afforded him the opportunity to distinguish himself for a performance when Plummer could not go on due to illness. With that performance, Plummer was impressed how Shatner decided not to simply imitate the main actor's mannerisms, but did the opposing move for most of them, thus showing considerable artistic initiative and potential to become a success in his own right. The two actors would later appear as adversaries in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
In 1954, he was cast as Ranger Bob on The Canadian Howdy Doody Show.
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 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 (1957–58) 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 in a 1960 episode of The Twilight Zone, "Nick of Time". He appeared twice as Wayne Gorham in NBC's Outlaws (1960) Western series with Barton MacLane, and then in another Alfred Hitchcock Presents 5th-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 the play. Shatner was 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 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, but 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", however, 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 received very good reviews for his significant role in the Stanley Kramer film Judgment at Nuremberg (1961). He starred in an episode of the science fiction anthology series The Twilight Zone, titled "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet". In the 1963–64 season, he appeared in an episode of the ABC series Channing. 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, Shatner guest-starred in Season 2, Episode 2 (titled "Cold Hands, Warm Heart") of the ABC sci-fi anthology series The Outer Limits. Also that year, he appeared in an episode of the CBS 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. 1964 also saw Shatner cast in an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. that also featured Leonard Nimoy, with whom Shatner would soon be paired in Star Trek. 1964 also saw him as the titular Alexander in the pilot for a proposed series called Alexander the Great alongside Adam West as Cleander. The series was not picked up and the pilot wasn't broadcast until 1968 when it was repackaged as a TV movie to capitalize on West and Shatner's later fame. Shatner hoped that the series would be a major success but West was apparently unsurprised by the rejection, later noting that "It turned out to be one of the worst scripts I have ever read and it was one of the worst things I've ever done."
In 1965, Shatner guest-starred in 12 O'Clock High as Major Curt Brown in the segment "I Am the Enemy". He also starred in the critically acclaimed drama For the People in 1965, as an assistant district attorney, co-starring with Jessica Walter. The program lasted only 13 episodes. Shatner starred in the 1966 gothic horror film Incubus (Esperanto: Inkubo,) 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, a virtuous half-Comanche gunslinger, and his twin brother Notah, a bloodthirsty warlord.
Main article: Star Trek: The Original Series
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.
After the cancellation of Star Trek in early 1969, Shatner experienced difficulty in finding work in the early 1970s, having become somewhat typecast from his role as Kirk. With 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 again appeared in "schlock" films, such as Corman's Big Bad Mama (1974) and the horror film The Devil's Rain (1975), Kingdom of the Spiders (1977), and the TV movie The Horror at 37,000 Feet. 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 when he intended to say "the Virgin Mary") at the top of the pyramid ($200), which deprived the contestant of a big money win. He 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 (after Dawson's agent sent a sternly worded threat to Goodson) 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.
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 was 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 both numerous episodes of T. J. Hooker and the feature film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
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. The 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 called 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 appeared 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-centred 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.
Shatner 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 Till 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 reprised the role in an episode of the 2012 season.
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.
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.
On April 24, 2014, he performed for one night only an autobiographical one-man show on Broadway, which was later broadcast in over 700 theatres 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.
In August 2015, he appeared in William Shatner Presents: Chaos on the Bridge, a documentary uncovering the creation of Star Trek: The Next Generation, featuring cast interviews from the original series which he also wrote, produced and directed.
Premiering August 23, 2016, Shatner appeared in the NBC reality miniseries 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. It won the 2017 Independent Publisher Book Awards' Outstanding Books of the Year Independent Voice Award. Better Late Than Never was renewed for a second season on NBC with a "preview" episode on December 11, 2017 and an "official" season premiere on New Year's Day, January 1, 2018. Shatner later joked that legendary Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw was "putty in my hands".
In 2017, Shatner again appeared in a music video with Brian Evans, whom he previously appeared with in the 2012 music video "At Fenway", in the singer's cover of the Dolly Parton song "Here You Come Again".
In 2017, Shatner appeared in the animated television series My Little Pony: 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.
Main article: William Shatner's musical career
Shatner began his musical career with the spoken word 1968 album The Transformed Man, delivering exaggerated, interpretive recitations of popular songs like "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" paired with readings from famous plays. 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.
In August 2018, Shatner released Why Not Me, his first country music album and fifth album overall, with Jeff Cook, who is best known as a founding member of the American band Alabama. The album, on the Heartland Records Nashville label, also includes guest vocals by Neal McCoy, Home Free and Cash Creek. In October, he released Shatner Claus, a Christmas album composed of duets with established musical artists including Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Todd Rundgren, Billy Gibbons, and others. In January 2019, it was announced that Shatner would make his debut at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, with Jeff Cook, on February 15, to promote Why Not Me.
On February 15, 2019, Shatner made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, with Jeff Cook, performing the title track to Why Not Me. They were introduced by Fred LaBour (a.k.a. Too Slim), a member of the cowboy singing and comedy group Riders in the Sky, who were among the other guest performers that evening.
His album The Blues peaked at no.1 on the Billboard Blues Chart on October 17, 2020.
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."
Shatner dislikes watching himself perform. He claims to have never watched an episode of Star Trek or Boston Legal, or any of the Star Trek movies, except while editing Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, which he directed. But his 1993 book Star Trek Memories makes reference to having attended the premiere of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and watching episodes of Star Trek.:201 A longtime U.S. resident, he holds a green card.
Shatner has been married four times, first to Canadian actress Gloria Rand (née Rabinowitz) on August 12, 1956. The marriage produced three daughters: Leslie (b. 1958), Lisabeth (b. 1961), and Melanie (b. 1964). Shatner left Rand while acting in Star Trek: The Original Series, after which she divorced him in March 1969. Shatner's second marriage was to Marcy Lafferty, the daughter of producer Perry Lafferty, and 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, and the coroner ruled the cause of death as 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 reestablish themselves 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:
Leonard Nimoy's personal experience of alcoholism now came to play a central role in my life and it helped us bond together in a way I never could have imagined in the early days of Star Trek. After Nerine and I had been to dinner with Leonard and Susan Nimoy one evening, Leonard called and said: "Bill, you know she's an alcoholic?" I said I did. I married Nerine in 1997, against the advice of many and my own good sense. But I thought she would give up alcohol for me. We had a celebration in Pasadena, and Leonard was my best man. I woke up about eight o'clock the next morning and Nerine was drunk. She was in rehab for 30 days three different times. Twice she almost drank herself to death. Leonard (sober many years) took Nerine to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, but she did not want to quit.
In 2000, a Reuters story reported that Shatner was planning to write and direct The Shiva Club, a dark comedy about the grieving process inspired by his wife's death. Shatner's 2004 album Has Been included a spoken word piece, "What Have You Done", that describes his anguish upon discovering Nerine's body.
In 2001, Shatner married Elizabeth Anderson Martin. In 2004, she co-wrote the song "Together" on Shatner's album Has Been. Shatner filed for divorce from Elizabeth in 2019. The divorce was finalized in January 2020.
Shatner first appeared on screen with Leonard Nimoy in 1964 when both actors guest-starred in an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., "The Project Strigas Affair". As co-stars on Star Trek, they interacted socially both on and off the set. After Star Trek's cancellation in 1969, Shatner and Nimoy reunited in the production of Star Trek: The Animated Series, as well as The $20,000 Pyramid, where "Kirk vs. Spock" appeared on two different tables. Nimoy also guest-starred on T. J. Hooker, in which Shatner played the title role.
Shatner's bereavement following his wife Nerine's death strengthened his friendship with Nimoy. Nimoy also appeared alongside Shatner at the TV Land Awards (hosted by John Ritter).
Nimoy spoke about their mutual rivalry during the Star Trek years:
Bill's energy was very good for my performance, because Spock could then be the cool individual. Our chemistry was successful right from the start. [We were] very competitive, with a sibling rivalry up to here, and after the show had been on the air a few weeks and they started to get a lot of mail about Spock, then the dictum came down from NBC: "Oh, give us more of that guy! They love that guy!" Well, that can be a problem for a leading man who's hired as the star of the show.— Leonard Nimoy
On an episode of the A&E series Biography, where it was also divulged that Nimoy was Shatner's best man at his wedding with his fourth wife Elisabeth, Nimoy said, "Bill Shatner hogging the stage? No. Not the Bill Shatner I know." When Nimoy died in 2015, Shatner said, "I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love." Although Shatner was unable to attend Nimoy's funeral due to other commitments, his daughters attended in his place, and Shatner created his own online memorial for Nimoy.
Shatner has been friends with actress Heather Locklear since 1982 when she began co-starring with him on T. J. Hooker. As she was also appearing in a semi-regular role in another Aaron Spelling production, Dynasty, Locklear was asked by Entertainment Tonight whether her schedule was difficult. She replied, "I'd get really nervous and want to be prepared" for Shatner and for the experienced cast of Dynasty. After T.J. Hooker ended, Shatner helped Locklear get other roles. She supported Shatner in 1999 when he was mourning Nerine's death. In 2005, Locklear appeared in two episodes of Shatner's Boston Legal as Kelly Nolan, a woman being tried for killing her much older, wealthy husband. Shatner's character is attracted to Nolan and tries to insert himself into her defense.[clarification needed] Asked how she came to appear on Boston Legal, Locklear said, "I love the show. It's my favorite show, and I sorta kind of said, 'Shouldn't I be William Shatner's illegitimate daughter, or his love interest?'"
—Shatner, on having to work again with two of his Star Trek co-stars in the 1994 movie, Star Trek Generations
For years, some of Shatner's Star Trek co-stars accused him of being difficult to work with, particularly George Takei, Walter Koenig, and James Doohan, the latter two of whom Shatner acknowledges in his autobiography Star Trek Movie Memories. In 2011, Koenig appeared on Shatner's interview series Shatner's Raw Nerve, and made clear that the animosity he once held was long over. In the 2004 Star Trek DVD sets, Shatner seemed to have made up with Takei, but their differences continue to resurface.
In the 1990s, Shatner made numerous attempts to reconcile with Doohan, but was unsuccessful for some time, Doohan being the only former Star Trek co-star refusing to be interviewed by Shatner for his 1993 memoir Star Trek Memories. Doohan did participate in the 1994 follow-up, Star Trek Movie Memories, but an Associated Press article published at the time of Doohan's final convention appearance in August 2004 stated that Doohan, already suffering from severe health problems, forgave Shatner and they mended their relationship. At a convention directly preceding Doohan's last one, Sky Conway, the convention's head, stated, "At our show: 'The Great Bird of the Galaxy' in El Paso, Texas in November 2003, a celebration of Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek, Bill and Jimmy went on stage together. Behind the scenes and before they went on stage, they hugged each other, apologized and expressed their love and admiration for each other. Bill specifically asked me to get them together so he could make amends and clear the air between the two of them before it was too late."
Shatner suffers from tinnitus, which he believes might be the result of a pyrotechnical accident on set while shooting the Star Trek episode "Arena", though he did not begin to suffer symptoms until the early 1990s, about a quarter century later. Shatner is involved in the American Tinnitus Association. His treatment for this condition involved wearing a small electronic device that generated low-level, broadband white noise that "helped his brain put the tinnitus in the background", a process known as habituation.
Shatner revealed in 2020 that he suffers from swollen joints and various age-related "aches and pains". He uses CBD oil to treat his pain.
In 2006, Shatner sold his kidney stone for $25,000 to GoldenPalace.com. In an appearance on The View on May 16, 2006, Shatner said the $25,000 and an additional $20,000 raised from the cast and crew of Boston Legal paid for the building of a house by Habitat for Humanity.
In his spare time, Shatner enjoys breeding and showing American Saddlebreds and Quarter Horses. He rode one of his own mares, Great Belles of Fire, in Star Trek Generations. Shatner has a 360-acre (150 ha) farm near Versailles, Kentucky, named Belle Reve Farm (from the French beau rêve, "Beautiful Dream"—Belle Reve was the name of Blanche Dubois' and her sister Stella's family home in A Streetcar Named Desire), where he raises American Saddlebreds. Three of his notable horses are Call Me Ringo, Revival, and Sultan's Great Day. The farm's activities help benefit the Central Kentucky Riding for Hope "Horses For Heroes" program. Shatner also plays on the World Poker Tour in the Hollywood Home Games, where celebrities play for their favourite charities. Since 1990, he has been a leading force behind the Hollywood Charity Horse Show, which raises money for children's charities. In 2018, Shatner was awarded the National Reining Horse Association Lifetime Achievement Award in the National Reining Horse Association Hall of Fame. In 2019, he won a world championship with his Standardbred road horse Track Star while showing at the Kentucky State Fair World's Championship Horse Show in Louisville.
On New Year's Day 1994, Shatner was the Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. Instead of riding in a classic car, he rode his horse down the parade route. For the 80th Rose Bowl game afterward, he participated in the pregame ceremonies including the coin toss between the University of Wisconsin Badgers and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins. Wisconsin would go on to win the game 21–16.
In 2014, Shatner was one of the Grand Marshals for the 102nd Calgary Stampede as he is an avid equestrian.
In September 2016, Shatner attended the 2016 Salt Lake Comic Con as a special guest.
In 2017, Shatner hosted as "captain" of the maiden voyage of a Star Trek-themed cruise entitled "Star Trek: The Cruise". The cruise was the first licensed by CBS Productions to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show. Through PETA, Shatner asked that the 2018 cruise not offer any "swim with dolphins" experiences, explaining in a letter to the Norwegian Cruise Line's CEO that "The exploitation of any species for profit and entertainment would have violated the Prime Directive."
Main article: William Shatner filmography
Shatner has appeared in dozens of films and television shows along with video games and commercials.