William Shatner – Captain James T. Kirk
Actor, director, author, singer William Shatner was born on March 22, 1931, in Montreal, Canada. Best known for his roles on Boston Legal and Star Trek, Shatner is one of the most recognizable stars working today.
His distinctive voice and cadence have been the subject of many imitations, spoofs, and parodies—all contributing to his status as a pop icon and endearing him to his fans. In addition to being an Emmy Award-winning actor, he has also written numerous books, directed several projects, and even recorded a few albums.
Shatner started his career as a child performer in radio programs for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. As a student at McGill University, he continued to pursue acting. Shatner spent his summers performing with the Royal Mount Theater Company. He graduated from the university in 1952 and joined the National Repertory Theater of Ottawa. Working with Sir Tyrone Guthrie, Shatner also appeared in productions at the Stratford.
Rise to Fame
In 1956, Shatner made his Broadway debut in Tamburlaine the Great, which was directed by Guthrie. He also found work in the emerging medium of television, appearing on such shows as theGoodyear Television Playhouse, Studio One, and Playhouse 90. Playing one of the title characters, Shatner made his film debut in 1958’s The Brothers Karamazov with Yul Brynner. That same year, he returned to Broadway for a two-year run in The Secret Life of Suzie Wong. He won the 1959 Theatre World Award for his performance.
In 1961, Shatner had a small part in the Holocaust drama Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), playing an army captain. He had a lead part inThe Intruder (1962) as a racist who fought against school integration. On the small screen, Shatner had his first television series, For the People, in 1965. He starred on the short-lived drama as an assistant district attorney in New York City.
The following year, Shatner took on the role that made him famous around the world. As Captain James T. Kirk on Star Trek, he commanded the U.S.S. Enterprise, a starship traveling through space in the twenty-third century. Kirk encountered all sorts of unusual aliens and challenging situations during his journeys. Accompanying him on these adventures was his loyal crew, which included first officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and medical officer Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley). The science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry premiered on September 8, 1966, and lasted for three seasons.
During the run of the show, Shatner also made an unusual career move. He recorded an album, The Transformed Man (1968), which featured spoken word versions of contemporary pop hits.