William Shatner has cultivated a career that has spanned over 50 years as professional actor, director, producer, screenwriter, recording artist, author and horseman. He is one of pop culture’s most recognizable figures and has also established himself as a major Hollywood philanthropist.
In September 2004, Shatner won an Emmy for his recurring role as eccentric law firm partner “Denny Crane” on The Practice, the David E. Kelley-created legal drama that finished its impressive run on ABC in 2004. Shatner reprised the role as a series regular on the hit ABC program Boston Legal, which garnered him his first Golden Globe in January 2005 as well as an Emmy in September of the same year.
In March 2006, he produced and starred in a TV Land special entitled William Shatner in Concert, featuring highlights from concerts that he performed with Ben Folds, Brad Paisley, Joe Jackson, and Henry Rollins. The music from those exciting nights was interwoven into segments depicting Shatner in various everyday activities as well as some very special moments, such as the birth of one of his granddaughters.
Shatner also produced and starred in another cable special, How William Shatner Changed the World, a documentary that aired on the History Channel and is based on his book I’m Working on That. This special goes in-depth to show how many of the gadgets used in the original Star Trek television series inspired and foreshadowed some of today’s technological marvels such as cell phones and PDA devices.
Born in Montreal, Shatner developed an early interest in acting and started working professionally at the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) even before he reached his teens. He found himself drawn to the theater and eventually joined the Stratford Shakespeare Festival under Sir Tyrone Guthrie. Tamburlaine, one of the festival’s productions, moved to Broadway and Shatner was immediately noticed by the New York critics. He later returned to Canada, winning the Tyrone Guthrie Award soon thereafter.
Also while at Stratford, Shatner found time to write plays for the CBC. He moved to New York and was a part of television’s Golden Age, working on programs such as Playhouse 90 and Studio One. He made his film debut in the 1957 film The Brothers Karamazov, followed by Judgment at Nuremburg and The Intruder. During the same period, he starred on Broadway in The World of Suzie Wong and A Shot in the Dark.
He has since guest starred in over several hundred television programs including classics such as The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Mission: Impossible. He also recurred on other staples including 77 Sunset Strip and Dr. Kildare before garnering an Emmy nomination for his appearances in 3rd Rock from the Sun.
In 1966, Shatner originated the role of “Captain James T. Kirk” in television series Star Trek, which rocketed into fame only after the show was cancelled and re-launched in syndication. The series spawned a feature film franchise and Shatner reprised the role of Captain Kirk in seven of the Star Trek motion pictures. He has since appeared in other movies such as Airplane II: The Sequel, Loaded Weapon 1 as well as both installments of the Miss Congeniality franchise.
Shatner played the title role in the network television series hit T.J. Hooker before hosting the CBS series Rescue 911 for six seasons. Since Rescue 911 first aired, over 300 lives have been saved by people who learned life-saving techniques from the show.
He made his feature film directorial debut in 1989 with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (in which he also starred as well as helped conceive the story). Since then, he has directed several other features, television movies, and episodics. Most recently, he directed (as well as produced and starred in) Groom Lake, a picture about the mysterious area surrounding Roswell, New Mexico.
Since April 1998, Shatner has served as the spokesman for Priceline.com. He was one of the first celebrities in Hollywood to recognize the importance of the Internet and his enduring appeal has proven to be an integral part of the company’s ad campaigns and brand marketing program. As the celebrity spokesperson for Priceline.com, he contributes his trademark sense of humor and entertaining style to the groundbreaking and humorous series of television and radio commercials.
Shatner’s love and appreciation of music inspired him to go into the studio and record Has Been, a compilation of songs he recorded with such musical artists as Ben Folds (who also produced the record), Brad Paisley, Joe Jackson, Aimee Mann and Henry Rollins. The album features Shatner’s trademark vocalization and shows off his passion for poetry and lyricism.
Off the screen and broadcast waves, Shatner has authored over two dozen best-selling books in both the fiction and non-fiction genres. His novel series TekWar was turned into a television series for The Sci-Fi Network (in which he starred and directed). Some of his other popular novels include Man O’ War, Star Trek Avenger and Ashes of Eden. He wrote two books on his Star Trek career in the titles Star Trek Memories and Star Trek Movie Memories before penning Get A Life!, a hilarious but endearing look at the cult of Star Trek Conventions.
Shatner has also become a success at another career– horse breeding. A longtime dedicated breeder of American Quarter horses, he has had smashing success with the beautiful American Saddlebred, developing and owning the World Champion “Sultan’s Great Day.” In August 1997, he won the World Harness Championship at Louisville, Kentucky, with his Saddlebred, “Revival.”
This love for horses led him to his involvement with AHEAD With Horses, a charity organization that gives physically and mentally challenged children the thrill of riding a horse, and boosts their confidence and self-esteem. For more than 15 years, he has hosted the Hollywood Charity Horse Show at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. The event, held every spring, benefits AHEAD With Horses and Camp Max Straus, two charities in Los Angeles. He has also worked with the American Tinnitus Association and has raised awareness of this debilitating illness through numerous television appearances and interviews.
Shatner continues to act, write, produce and direct while still managing to find time to work with charities and further his passion in the equestrian sports. He and his wife, Elizabeth, and his three married children live in Los Angeles.