William Shatner

Photo of William Shatner
William "Bill" Shatner (born March 22, 1931) is an Emmy-winning and Golden Globe-winning Canadian actor, who gained fame for his starring role as Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in the television show Star Trek from 1966 to 1969 and in seven of the subsequent movies. Shatner has written three books chronicling his experiences playing James T. Kirk and being a part of Star Trek. He also played the title role as veteran police sergeant T.J. Hooker, from 1982 to 1986, on both ABC and CBS networks.

He has since worked as a musician, bestselling celebrity author, producer, director, and celebrity pitchman, most notably for Priceline.com and DirecTV. Currently, he stars as attorney Denny Crane on the television drama Boston Legal, for which he has won an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award.

William Shatner was first cast as Captain James Tiberius Kirk for the second pilot of Star Trek, entitled "Where No Man Has Gone Before". He was subsequently contracted to play Kirk for the Star Trek series and held the role from 1966 to 1969. In 1973, Shatner returned to the role of Captain Kirk, albeit only in voice, in the animated Star Trek series. He was slated to reprise the role of Kirk for Star Trek: Phase II, a follow-up series chronicling the second five-year mission of the Enterprise, but Star Trek: Phase II was cancelled in pre-production and expanded into Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Shatner is notable for having participated in the first interracial kiss televised in the U.S., with Nichelle Nichols, in the 1968 Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren". The scene provoked controversy and was seen as groundbreaking, even though the kiss was portrayed as having been forced by telekinesis. The episode was not telecast in some Southern cities for fear of protest in those states; nevertheless most viewer reaction was positive. Shatner has claimed in his memoirs that no one on the set felt the kiss to be very important until a network executive raised fears of a Southern boycott, and the kiss was almost written out of the script. Gene Roddenberry supposedly made a deal, that the scene would be shot with the kiss, and with a cut-away shot which merely implied a kiss, and then a decision would be made on which to use. The footage of the actual kiss was eventually used. Some cast members have written that this was because Shatner deliberately ruined the take for the implied-kiss footage (by staring at the camera and crossing his eyes) to force the real kiss to be used.