Happy Birthday to William Shatner,
American Canadian icon whose career spans decades in the world of theatre, film, television, music, literature, horse-breeding, and just about anything else you can imagine. Mr. Shatner has received numerous accolades including Canada’s Order of Canada (aka OC), its second-highest honor of merit (not to mention Bill’s status as an O.G.). Although “The Shat” (as he’s affectionately known to his fans) is unquestionably best known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise (accept no substitutions), his acting career spans so much more, whether it’s his early work on the stage, his many TV guest roles, or later TV leading roles on TJ Hooker and Boston Legal.
Born in Montreal, Canada on March 22, 1931, the Shat’s life saw him struggle for years to become a leading man. His first leading role in the short-lived series For the People was followed by his leading role as Captain James T. Kirk in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. Regrettably, this role led to him being type-cast and he spent the next ten years struggling to find sustained success again. His success on Star Trek turned was both a blessing and a curse. In addition to being type-cast, the show’s cancellation put him out of work while he was forced to pay alimony based on his pay as a leading man on a TV show. As Mr. Shatner documents in his memoir Star Trek Movie Memories, the years after Trek’s cancellation were rough, with him traveling across the country driving a pick-up truck with a small trailer attached to it. The Shat performed at local theatres in between guest spots on TV, but kept plugging away, finding occasional film roles until Star Trek: The Motion Picture helped revive Gene Roddenberry’s science-fiction franchise (while also almost destroying it thanks to its bloated budget).
Over the next few months I hope to cover the enduring legacy of Bill Shatner, a man who doesn’t take himself too seriously and who is still in high demand whether he’s shilling sleep apnea accessories or hosting the History Channel’s The UnXplained. Bill Shatner’s unique status in the history of entertainment is best seen in his Urban Dictionary entry “The Shat”:
Affectionate yet somewhat insulting nickname for William Shatner, star of anything he gets paid for.Hey man, did you hear? The Shat just released a new album. He makes fun of himself and still gets rave reviews!
The term “The Shat” is always used affectionately by yours truly. Bill Shatner has been one of my personal heroes since childhood with his remarkable life exemplifying what sheer determination can accomplish. Happy 90th birthday Mr. Shatner. I hope if I make it to 90 I look as good as you do.