William Shatner was born on March 22, 1931 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to Joseph Shatner and Anna Garmaise.
Shatner grew up and went to school in Montreal and eventually moved on to earn a Bachelor's degree in commerce from Montreal's McGill University in 1952. During the summer months, while in college, Shatner performed in the Royal Mount Theater Company. After graduation, he began work at the National Repertory Theater of Ottawa, and performed at the famed Shakespearean Stratford Festival of Canada in Stratford, Ontario.
Eventually moving to the United States to work, Shatner was cast as "Ranger Bill" on the popular Howdy Doody Show in 1954. He made his official movie debut in the 1958 film "The Brothers Karamazov" where he played Alexei Karamazov.
Shatner's most famous and popular role was as Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the USS Enterprise on Gene Roddenberry's 'Star Trek'. The shows ratings, however, were never successful and was canceled after 3 seasons. (1966-69). Over the years however, reruns of the show has developed a loyal fan base and has made it a cult classic.
While on the show, Shatner made a groundbreaking step for television and engaged in the first televised interracial kiss with co-star Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura), in the 1968 episode "Plato's Stepchildren". Despite this, Shatner was often accused of being difficult to work with, arrogant, line-stealing, and trying to keep his co-stars in the background.
In 1973 the Star Trek name tried to make a comeback with an animated series, where once again Shatner assumed the role as Captain Kirk for the voiceover. Shatner also stared in the 6 Star Trek movies which became big successes, and assumed the role of Kirk for the final time in 1994 for'Star Trek Generations'.
During the almost 10 year gap between the Star Trek series and its movies, Shatner found it difficult to find work due to being typecast as Captain Kirk. His wife left him in financial distress and forced him to live in a truck bed camper in the San Fernando Valley.
After the films, Shatner returned to TV as a police officer in the 'T.J. Hooker' series from 1982 to 1986.
Shatner has become an unwilling figurehead of science fiction fans and the Star-Trek cult like following "Trekkies". Despite enjoying the role and his popularity, he argues that there's only so much a man can take and often jokes about his geeky and annoying fans.
In the early 90's Shatner wrote a series of science fiction novels called the Tek series. The books became very popular and inspired a Marvel comic series, television movies (Which Shatner himself acted in) and even a video game. He also authored several more science fiction books under the Star Trek name and even went on to do some of a biographical nature, such as "Star Trek Memories".
Over the years Shatner has made many guest and special appearances and assume some small roles on TV and in film. This includes his appearance in several episodes of the television series ' 3rd Rock from the Sun' as The Big Giant Head.
In 2004, Shatner got the role of attorney Denny Crane for the final season of the legal drama, 'The Practice' and earned an Emmy. He is currently still playing the role of Crane in the shows spin-off series "Boston legal".
Recently, in 2006, Shatner sold his kidney stone for $75,000 to GoldenPalace.com to pay for the building of a house by Habitat for Humanity. He also aired on a show titled "How I, William Shatner, Changed the world" on the Discovery channel, which discussed how gadets and technology fictionalized on Star trek inspired real world technological developments today.
Currently, aside from acting, Shatner also plays on the World Poker Tour, for the Wells Fargo Hollywood Charity Horse Show, and still hits Trek conventions. Shatner has a 360-acre horse farm in Kentucky named Bellreve where he breeds American Saddlebreds and Quarter Horses. Shatner also is the CEO of the C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures company which provides special effects for movies. William Shatner has a star on Canada's walk of fame, and shows no signs of slowing down in his career despite his age.
"Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."
- Shatners voiceover at the begining of the original Star Trek intro.
"I'm not a Starfleet commander, or T.J. Hooker. I don't live on Starship NCC-170... , or own a phaser. I don't know anybody named Bones, Sulu, or Spock. And no, I've never had green alien sex, but I'm sure it'd be quite an evening. 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 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 Shatner's Just for Laughs appearance; a parody of the popular Molson Canadian Commercial entitled "I Am Canadian"
Article written by Ryan Woodford