William Shatner in 2005.He starred as attorney Denny Crane in the final season of the legal drama The Practice and its spinoff series Boston Legal.
William Shatner in 2005.He starred as attorney Denny Crane in the final season of the legal drama The Practice and its spinoff series Boston Legal. Jerry Avenaim

Famous Birthdays this week: William Shatner

22/03/1931 - current (87 years old).

" I find age such a foreign concept. I have to be reminded. I still have the extraordinary feeling of adventure, striking out into unknown fields”.

1931: William Shatner OC is a Canadian actor, author, producer, and director. He was born in Quebec, Canada. His parents are Anne and Joseph Shatner, a clothing manufacturer. He has two sisters, Joy and Farla. His paternal grandfather, Wolf Schattner, anglicized the family name to "Shatner”. All of Shatner's four grandparents were Jewish immigrants (from Austria, Hungary, Ukraine, and Lithuania).

Shatner attended two schools in Notre-Dame-de-Grace, Willingdon Elementary School and West Hill High School and is an alumnus of the Montreal Children's Theatre. He studied Economics at the McGill University Faculty of Management in Montreal, Canada, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree.

1951: His film debut was in the Canadian film Butler's Night Off.

1952: After graduating from McGill University, Shatner became the business manager for the Mountain Playhouse in Montreal before joining the Canadian National Repertory Theatre in Ottawa, where he trained as a classical Shakespearean actor.

1954: Shatner began performing at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario. He played a range of roles at the Stratford Festival in productions that included a minor role in the opening scene of a renowned and nationally televised production of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex directed by Tyrone Guthrie, Shakespeare's Henry V. He was cast as Ranger Bob on The Canadian Howdy Doody Show and was an understudy to Christopher Plummer; the two would later appear as adversaries in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

1956: Made his Broadway debut in Marlowe's Tamburlaine the Great.

1958: His first feature role came in the MGM film The Brothers Karamazov with Yul Brynner, in which he starred as the youngest of the Karamazov brothers, Alexei.

1959: He received good reviews when he played the role of Lomax in the Broadway production of The World of Suzie Wong. In March, while performing on stage in Suzie Wong, Shatner was also playing detective Archie Goodwin in what would have been television's first Nero Wolfe series, had it not been aborted by CBS after shooting a pilot and a few episodes.

1960: He appeared twice as Wayne Gorham in NBC's Outlaws Western series with Barton MacLane, and then in another Alfred Hitchcock Presents 5th-season episode titled "Mother, May I Go Out to Swim?”

1961: He starred in the Broadway play A Shot in the Dark with Julie Harris and directed by Harold Clurman.

1964: Shatner guest-starred in Season 2, Episode 2 (titled "Cold Hands, Warm Heart”) of the ABC sci-fi anthology series The Outer Limits. That appearance may have been considered prescient in relation to his iconic, career-defining role of Captain James T. Kirk on NBC's series Star Trek two years later. He played an astronaut returning from a mission who was discussing a planned mission to Mars called "Project Vulcan”; on Star Trek, Kirk's first officer and best friend, Mr. Spock, was half-Vulcan and was born and raised on that planet.

1965: He guest-starred in 12 O'Clock High as Major Curt Brown in the segment "I Am the Enemy” and in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in an episode that also featured Leonard Nimoy (who would soon portray the above-referenced Mr. Spock), with whom Shatner would soon be paired in Star Trek. Shatner was cast as Captain James T. Kirk for the second pilot of Star Trek, titled "Where No Man Has Gone Before”. He was then contracted to play Kirk for the Star Trek series and held the role from 1966 to 1969.

A publicity photo of William Shatner as Captain Kirk from the television program Star Trek.
A publicity photo of William Shatner as Captain Kirk from the television program Star Trek.

1967: He starred in the little known film White Comanche starring as two characters: Johnny Moon and his twin brother Notah.

1970's: After its cancellation, Star Trek engendered a cult following from syndicated reruns, and Captain Kirk became a cultural icon.

1973: Shatner returned to the role of Captain Kirk, albeit only in voice, in the animated Star Trek series.

He also has found an outlet in spoofing the cavalier, almost superhuman, persona of Captain Kirk in films such as Airplane II: The Sequel (1982) and National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 (1993). In 1994, he starred as the murderer in the Columbo episode "Butterfly in Shades of Grey”.

1982-86: Shatner played the veteran police sergeant in T.J. Hooker.

1989-96: He hosted the reality-based television series Rescue 911, which won a People's Choice Award for the Favorite New TV Dramatic Series. Shatner also appeared in seasons 4 and 5 of the NBC series 3rd Rock from the Sun as the "Big Giant Head” that the alien characters reported to.

1990's: Shatner suffers from tinnitus, which he has speculated might be the result of a pyrotechnical accident on set while shooting the Star Trek episode "Arena” though he did not begin to suffer symptoms until the early 1990s, more than twenty years after the incident. Shatner is involved in the American Tinnitus Association. His treatment for this condition involved wearing a small electronic device that generated a low-level, broadband sound (white noise) that "helped his brain put the tinnitus in the background” a process known as habituation.

2000: Shatner co-starred in the movie Miss Congeniality as Stan Fields, playing the role of co-host of the Miss United States Pageant alongside future Boston Legal co-star Candice Bergen. He reprised the role in the sequel Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2004), in which Stan Fields was kidnapped in Las Vegas along with the winner of the pageant of the previous year.

2001: Shatner married Elizabeth Anderson Martin. In 2004, she co-wrote the song "Together” on Shatner's album Has Been.

2004-08: He starred as attorney Denny Crane in the final season of the legal drama The Practice and its spinoff series Boston Legal, a role that earned him two Emmy Awards.

2007: In January of this year, Shatner launched a series of daily vlogs on his life called ShatnerVision on the LiveVideo.com website. In 2008, he launched his video blogs on YouTube in a project renamed "The Shatner Project.” Shatner also starred as the voice of Don Salmonella Gavone on the 2009 YouTube animated series The Gavones.

2009: Shatner made several guest appearances on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, including cameos reciting Sarah Palin's resignation speech, Twitter posts, and autobiography. (Palin herself made a cameo on the show in December, reciting passages from Shatner's autobiography, Up Til' Now in front of Shatner himself.)

2011: In June of this year, McGill University awarded Shatner an honorary Doctorate of Letters. Shatner starred in The Captains, a feature-length documentary which he also wrote and directed. He also recorded a wake-up call that was played for the crew of STS-133 in the Space Shuttle Discovery on March 7, its final day docked to the International Space Station. Backed by the musical theme from Star Trek, it featured a voice-over based on his spoken introduction from the series' opening credits: "Space, the final frontier.

2014: On April 24 of this year, he performed for one night only an autobiographical one-man show on Broadway, which was later broadcast in over 700 theaters across Canada, Australia, and the United States. A large portion of the revenue went to charity.

2016: Premiering on August 23, Shatner appeared in the NBC reality miniseries Better Late Than Never, which documented the adventures of Shatner and three other aging celebrities (Henry Winkler, Terry Bradshaw and George Foreman) as they travel to Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia.

2017: As of December, he is in his second season of the comical NBC real-life travelogue with other male companions "of a certain age” in Better Late Than Never. Shatner also appeared in the animated television series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic as the voice of Grand Pear.


Two-time Emmy Award winner 2005 and Golden Globe Award winner, Television Hall of Fame inductee (class of 2006) and he has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Canada's Walk of Fame.


Gloria Rand (m. 1956; div. 1969); Marcy Lafferty (m. 1973; div. 1996) Nerine Kidd; (m. 1997; d. 1999) and Elizabeth Martin (m. 2001).


Shatner has also worked as a musician; an author; screenwriter and director; celebrity pitchman; and a passionate owner, trader, breeder, rider, and aficionado of horses. He has written a series of books chronicling his experiences playing Captain Kirk and being a part of Star Trek, and has co-written several novels set in the Star Trek universe.

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