Though William Shatner first garnered fame through his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk on the original Star Trek
television series, he has gone on to develop a prolific career as an actor, comedian, spokesman and "singer" over a nearly 60-year period.
His performance as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek television series and the Star Trek movie series established his place in the world of popular science fiction. He also starred in a famous episode of The Twilight Zone
as a former patient who thinks he sees a monster on the wing of an airplane ("Nightmare at 20,000 Feet").
Though his career declined after the cancellation of Star Trek
due to typecasting, he re-established himself as a television star in series such as T.J. Hooker
and Rescue 911
. He also ventured into the genre of comedy with roles in films such as Airplane II: The Sequel
(1982) and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
(2004) and in television shows like 3rd Rock from the Sun
(where William received an Emmy nomination for his performance as "The Big Giant Head").
He delved into the world of music with a decidedly strange and surreal album titled The Transformed Man
(1968) in which he talk-sang through cover versions of popular hits like "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." He performed a talk-singing rendition of "Rocket Man" for the 1978 Science Fiction Film Awards dressed in a tuxedo and smoking a cigarette.
William recorded his second album in 2004 in collaboration with Ben Folds. The album, Has Been
, took a surprisingly melancholy look at life. William's prose poems and talk-singing garnered significant praise among critics this time around.
His 1968 album led to William's lucrative deal many years later as the spokesman for Priceline.com. His early commercial spots for the website featured him talk-singing in a manner very similar to his delivery on The Transformed Man
. The long-running series of ads ventured into comedy as fellow Star Trek
star Leonard Nimoy was recruited to "replace" William at one point. Later on, William appeared as the "Chief Negotiating Officer" in the Priceline commercials.
With the resurgence of the Star Trek genre due to a successful string of motion pictures and the Next Generation television series, William explored his literary creativity in science fiction by writing and publishing the first of the Tekwar
series in 1989. The story focused on the character of Jake Cardigan and how he had been framed for distributing the illegal mind-altering drug, Tek. The series became popular enough to spawn a television series
of the same name starring Greg Evigan as Cardigan and Shatner as Walter Bascom. It is widely rumored that the Tekwar novels were ghostwritten by another writer (Ron Goulart).
William has remained active well into his 70s. He has won two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award for his portrayal of law-firm partner Denny Crane on the television series Boston Legal
and The Practice
. He continues to work in movies, television shows and advertisements. He has also done voice-over work for Star Trek video games. William is also involved with the "Ahead for Horses" charity that provides horse-riding opportunities for disabled children in the Los Angeles area.