How is it that everyone else in the world seems to age… except William Shatner?
Shatner, the legendary Captain James T. Kirk of Star Trek, turns 80 years old today, yet he looks years younger and maintains a work load that would wear out most people half his age. A cursory glance at his schedule and current projects reveals the following: He’s got – deep breath – a very active official Web site (www.williamshatner.com) and a video presence (www.theshatnerproject.com); his talk show, Raw Nerve; a Captains documentary nearing completion; more Priceline commercials on the way; and his annual Priceline Charity Horse Show lined up for April 30 (with Sheryl Crow on board as the headline act). A couple of weeks ago he recorded a wakeup message for the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery. He recently completed the first season of the popular CBS sitcom, $#*! My Dad Says. He tweets constantly. He just hosted Canada’s Genie Awards ceremony. He continues to make Trek convention appearances. He’s recording a new album (a sci-fi/heavy metal concept album, with help from Zakk Wylde, Peter Frampton and Brian May), embarking on a speaking tour, writing a new book and plans to be on hand in May when, in his native Canada, he receives a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for “lifetime artistic achievement.”
You get the idea.
But to get caught up in Shatner’s current enterprises is to ignore a pretty storied history as an actor. And, truth be told, there are many Trek fans out there – longtime fans and newcomers alike – who don’t realize that there’s been more to Shatner’s professional life than Trek and Captain Kirk; and we’re not even getting into his output as an author, producer, director and “singer.” Most of his early stage performances, for obvious reasons, are unavailable for public viewing, but among his film and TV output, may we suggest checking out the following: The Brothers Karamazov, a MGM drama from 1958; “The Glass Eye” episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents; the 1961 feature Judgment at Nuremberg; the unforgettable Twilight Zone episodes “Nick of Time” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet;” and Incubus, a 1961 horror film that’s beloved by a small but passionate core of admirers. And, post Trek, it’s well worth checking out Shatner in Airplane II: The Sequel; in his recurring role as the “Big Giant Head” on 3rd Rock from the Sun; and, of course, as Denny Crane, first on The Practice and later on Boston Legal. Shatner won numerous awards, among them Emmys, for his by turns touching, hysterical and non-PC portrayal of Crane.
But back to that 80th birthday.
While we at StarTrek.com and no doubt millions of fans around the world wish him well today and for years to come, Shatner made it very clear during a recent interview with an Australian newspaper that he can’t and won’t celebrate the landmark. “It’s monstrous,” he said of the big 8-0. “Horrible and terrible fall short of describing it. It’s just monstrous.”