Shatner, William

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SHATNER, WILLIAM (1931– ), Canadian actor-writer. Shatner was born in Montreal. His paternal grandfather, Wolf Shattner, had changed the family name after emigrating from the Ukraine. Even before his teen years, Shatner was working professionally for the Canadian Broadcasting Company. He studied business at McGill University and in 1951 acted in the Canadian feature The Butler's Night Off. He had planned to go into the clothing business with his father after graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1952, but instead joined the Canadian Repertory Theatre (1952–54) in Ottawa and then the Stratford Shakespeare Festival (1954–56) in Stratford, Ontario. He played Ranger Bob on the children's television series Howdy Doody in 1954 and starred in a live adaptation of Herman Melville's Billy Budd (1955). In 1956 Shatner made his Broadway debut with Tamburlaine the Great. In 1958, he made his U.S. feature film debut in The Brothers Karamazov and starred in the Broadway production of The World of Suzie Wong, which took the 1959 Theatre World Award. Shatner appeared in the feature Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) while working in television programs like Playhouse 90 and Studio One, and then in the Broadway production of A Shot in the Dark. In 1962, he starred in the acclaimed film The Intruder, which he followed with appearances on The Twilight Zone and 77 Sunset Strip, and a starring role in the short-lived television series For the People (1965). In 1966, Shatner was cast as Captain Kirk in Star Trek, a part he played until nbc canceled the series on Sept. 2, 1969. After a divorce wiped out his finances he continued to act on television, including an adaptation of the book Go Ask Alice (1973), but the role of Kirk had typecast Shatner and he found himself mostly relegated to bit parts in action films. Shatner rejoined the Star Trek cast and provided the voice for Kirk in an animated series (1973–75). This was followed by a failed attempt to relaunch a syndicated live Star Trek series, which evolved to become a series of films that featured Shatner's Kirk from 1979 to 1994. Shatner found himself back on television as a cop in the series T.J. Hooker (1982–86) and then as host of the reality television series Rescue 911 (1989–95). In 1989, Shatner began publishing his long-running TekWar series of science-fiction novels and helped adapt them to television. After serving as a spokesperson for from 1998, he returned to acting in 2003 with guest appearances as Denny Crane on David E. Kelley's The Practice, which earned him an Emmy for best guest actor. In 2004, he joined the spin-off series, Boston Legal, reprising his role as Crane and earning a Golden Globe and another Emmy. Shatner was a longtime breeder of American quarter horses, and raised money for various charities, including Ahead With Horses and Children's Museum of Los Angeles.


"Shatner, William," in: Contemporary Authors Online (Thomson Gale, 2005); "William Shatner," at:

[Adam Wills (2nd ed.)]