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These Are The Real-Life Stories Of “Captain Kirk,” William Shatner

Once you play a role as iconic as Captain Kirk, you’re forever associated with the character, which can be both a blessing and a curse. William Shatner joined the cast of Star Trek in 1966 as Captain James T. Kirk, and went on to play the role for decades on both television and in films – creating a name for himself in the sci-fi world that will never be forgotten.

However, Shatner’s always been known as a bit of a diva off-camera, with a reputation as a moody egomaniac; many actors who’ve worked with him had a hard time getting along with him. Not a great thing to hear about your favorite actor. Here are a few things to know about the man who played Captain Kirk …


He’s A Classically Trained Shakespearean Actor

Unlike many movie stars, Shatner has both a bachelor’s degree and classical training as an actor on his resume. He earned his Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University, and started his career as business manager for the Mountain Playhouse in Montreal, where he also started to dabble in acting.

He then trained as a classical Shakespearean actor at the Canadian National Repertory Theater in Ottawa, which led to him performing at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 1954. By 1960, he already had film and Broadway credits under his belt, and continued to act on stage, in TV series, and on the big screen throughout the 50s and 60s.


Kirk And Spock Were “Frenemies”

Leonard Nimoy – who played the equally iconic Mr. Spock in the Star Trek series – and Shatner were friends… most of the time. While Shatner got a bit jealous over Nimoy’s additional fan mail and universally loved character that sometimes overshadowed Kirk, the two men were close both on screen and off. They did many interviews together, and Nimoy was even Shatner’s best man at his fourth wedding.

While Shatner did not attend Nimoy’s funeral, he sent his daughters to go instead, and created an online memorial to his old friend – whom Shatner said he loved like a brother. He even wrote a book about his friendship with Nimoy, aptly titled Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man.

Photo: Productions

Shatner Had A Lot Of Feuds

While Nimoy and Shatner were close, the latter didn’t always get along with his co-stars. In fact, fellow Star Trek stars including George Takei, Walter Koenig, and James Doohan have all spoken about Shatner and his ego – and sometimes found him extremely difficult to get along with. Takei in particular has had a tense relationship with Shatner for over fifty years, and still occasionally writes jabs about him to the public on social media.


He Refuses To Sign Autographs

As Shatner is well known for his egocentric ways, it’s not exactly a surprise that he refuses to sign autographs for fans. However, he does give back in strange and unusual ways. When he had a kidney stone removed in 2006, he sold it to a casino for $25,000, with the proceeds going to charity.

Photo: DeGuire/UPI

He’s Been Married Four Times

Shatner’s first two marriages ended normally enough – with exes Gloria Rand and Marcy Lafferty both filing for divorce. However, his third marriage to Nerrine Kidd Shatner ended in tragedy in 1999, when he arrived home and found her dead in the swimming pool. Alcohol and valium were found in her bloodstream, and the death was ruled an accidental drowning. Shatner has spoken about his trauma regarding the incident, but eventually married yet again, to Elizabeth Martin in 2001.