William Shatner was born on March 22, 1931, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He earned a B.A. in commerce from McGill University in Montreal. In 1954, he was cast as “Ranger Bill” on the popular Howdy Doody Show in the United States. His official movie debut was in the 1958 film The Brothers Karamazov. In 1959, Shatner moved to Broadway in the production of The World of Suzie Wong. Then in 1962, he starred in the film The Intruder. He also appeared in the film Judgment at Nuremberg.
From 1966 to 1969, Shatner starred in the television show Star Trek as Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise. On the 1968 episode “Plato’s Stepchildren,” Shatner is noted for having partaken in the first televised interracial kiss, with Nichelle Nichols. Between 1979 and 1994, Shatner played Captain Kirk in the seven Star Trek films, and directed the fifth. Shatner as Captain Kirk had become a cult icon.
From 1982 to 1986, he returned to television, starring as a police officer in the T.J. Hooker series. Then from 1989 to 1996, he hosted the dramatic reenactment series Rescue 911.
Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Shatner attempted to play characters in films that would attempt to dispel the Kirk image, including Airplane II: The Sequel (1982), National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon (1993), and Free Enterprise (1998).
In 2004, Shatner was cast as the eccentric attorney Denny Crane for the final season of the legal drama, The Practice, and then in 2005 in its subsequent spin-off, Boston Legal. In 2004 and 2005, Shatner won two Emmy Awards for his portrayal of attorney Denny Crane in both of these television series. He also won a 2005 Golden Globe for his character in Boston Legal.
Shatner is also the CEO of the Toronto, Ontario based C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures company, which provided the special effects for the 1996 film Fly Away Home.
Shatner has had a spoofed musical career, starting with the 1968 album The Transformed Man. His exaggerated, interpretive reading of “Mr. Tambourine Man” became an instant camp classic. Shatner also provided vocals for In Love, a song written by Ben Folds for the Fear of Pop album. In 2004, Shatner along with Ben Folds produced his second studio album, Has Been.