Today is William Shatner’s 79th birthday. In his honor of Captain James T. Kirk, we’ve boldly collected 79 facts about the Star Trek legend that have never been collected before — at least not all in one place. Enjoy!
1. William Alan Shatner was born on March 22, 1931 in Montreal.
2. His father Joseph was a clothing manufacturer.
3. Shatner was raised as a Conservative Jew.
4. His paternal grandfather Wolf Schattner changed the family named after immigrating to Canada.
5. Shatner graduated from McGill University in 1952 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce.
6. He classically trained as a Shakespearean actor and performed at the Shakespearean Stratford Festival of Canada.
7. Shatner had his Broadway debut in a production of Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great which was directed by Sir Tyrone Guthrie.
8. Shatner’s first big on-screen break was a Canadian film titled, The Butler’s Night Off.
9. In 1954 Shatner played the part of Ranger Bill on the first season of the Canadian Howdy Doody Show.
10. Shatner landed his first American film role in 1958 as Alexi, the youngest brother in The Brothers Karamazov.
11. He appeared on Alfred Hitchcock Presents twice. First, in an episode entitled “The Glass Eye,” and then, a few years later in “Mother, may I go out to swim?”
12. Shatner’s best-known role pre-Star Trek was a classic episode of The Twilight Zone, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”
13. He played the part of Captain James T. Kirk on the television series Star Trek from 1966 to 1969. The show was canceled, but became much more popular in reruns post-moon landing.
14. In a Star Trek episode entitled “Operation: Annihilate!,” Shatner played the body of Kirk’s dead brother, George.
15. He also starred as Kirk in Star Trek: The Animated Series and in the first seven Star Trek movies.
16. He portrayed Captain Kirk in film for the final time in 1994 Star Trek Generations; in 2006 he reprized his role for a DirecTV advertisement.
17. Although he claims not to remember meeting him then, Shatner first appeared on screen with Leonard Nimoy when he guest-starred in an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
18. Thanks to a deal he made with Nimoy, Shatner directed the fifth Star Trek movie, 1989’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. He also co-wrote it.
19. Shatner was not given a role in J.J. Abram’s 2009 film Star Trek. He then refused to see it in theaters.
19. His favorite episode of Star Trek was entitled “The Devil in the Dark.”
20. Shatner was a regular celebrity guest on The $20,000 Pyramid in the 1970s. This ended when he accidentally gave a guest an “illegal” clue, causing them to forfeit their winnings and Shatner to throw a chair on set.
21. During a tough time in the early ’70s, Shatner lived in a truck bed camper in the San Fernando Valley.
22. In 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture Shatner’s Captain James T. Kirk was promoted to Admiral.
23. Shatner played the title role of veteran police sergeant T.J. Hooker from 1982 to 1986 on ABC.
24. From 1989 to 1996 Shatner hosted Rescue 911.
25. Shatner spoofed his Captain Kirk role in both Airplane II: The Sequel and National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon.
26. He published a sci-fi series called TekWar that was then adapted into a comic, TV movies, a short-lived TV show, and a video game. Some people think that he didn’t write it.
27. Shatner played a womanizing alien known as “Big Giant Head” on 3rd Rock from the Sun, which earned him an Emmy nomination.
28. In 2004 Shatner photographed playmate Deanna Brooks for Playboy magazine.
29. Shatner played Denny Crane on the final season of The Practice, and the same character in its spin-off series, Boston Legal.
30. He won an Emmy for playing Crane on both TV shows, which is a rare feat also accomplished by his co-star, James Spader.
31. Shatner sold a kidney stone he passed for $75,000 in 2006. The money went toward building a Habitat for Humanity home in northern Louisiana.
31. Shatner plays on the World Poker Tour in the Hollywood Home games.
32. He has been friends with Heather Locklear since the early ’80s, when she co-starred with him on T.J. Hooker.
33. His 2006 ABC game show, Show Me the Money, was canceled after one month due to low ratings.
34. Shatner vlogs about his life in a series called ShatnerVision, which he later renamed The Shatner Project.
35. He is the first Canadian actor to appear on successful shows on three major networks.
36. For a long time Shatner refused to go to Star Trek conventions because he felt like it was beneath him.
37. Shatner has been married four times; his longest marriage lasted 21 years.
38. Shatner’s third wife, Nerine Kidd-Shatner, was found dead in their swimming pool. Both alcohol and Valium were found in her system.
39. Leonard Nimoy would take Nerine to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
40. Shatner married his current wife, Elizabeth Martin, in 2001. They share a love of horses.
41. He has a 360-acre horse farm in Kentucky where he raises American Saddlebreds.
42. Shatner is a big supporter of therapeutic horseback riding.
43. He founded the annual Hollywood Charity Horse Show in 1990 and continues to host it each year.
44. Shatner launched his spoken word career in 1968 with an album called The Transformed Man.
45. In 1978 Shatner did a spoken word cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” during the Science Fiction Film Awards.
46. That infamous performance was later spoofed by David Letterman, Beck, and The Family Guy.
47. Shatner landed his role as the “Priceline Negotiator” because an exec was a fan of his early spoken word work.
48. Shatner provided vocals on two different Ben Folds tracks: “In Love” and “Rockin’ the Suburbs.”
49. Folds returned the favor by co-writing and producing Shatner’s second studio album, Has Been, in 2004.
50. In 2007 the Milwaukee Ballet performed a dance that was set to Has Been.
51. Shatner has delivered several “spoken word” interpretation of Sarah Palin’s work, including her resignation speech and excerpts from her memoir.
52. He made U.S. dramatic TV history in 1968 by sharing an interracial kiss with Star Trek‘s Nichelle Nichols. It was purportedly the result of telekinesis.
53. Shatner and his Star Trek co-star George Takei have always had a tumultuous relationship. Example: Takei insists that he invited Shatner to his recent wedding to Brad Altman, and that Shatner never responded. Shatner says that he was never invited.
54. Halloween‘s Michael Myers wears a Captain Kirk mask that is spray painted white.
55. Futurama‘s Zapp Brannigan is based on a 40/60 mixture of Captain Kirk and William Shatner.
56. McGill University’s Student Union was unofficially renamed The William Shatner University Centre in 1993.
57. Shatner worked at the Canadian Broadcasting Company as a kid.
58. Shatner uses white noise to help combat his chronic tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
59. He has said that his tinnitus was so severe that at one point he contemplated suicide.
60. Incubus, a ’60s horror movie which starred Shatner, is one of the few films to feature the artificial language of Esperanto.
61. Along with English and Esperanto, Shatner is also fluent in French.
62. His speech is so distinct that it has spawned its own adjective: “Shatnerian.”
63. Shatner received his Hollywood Walk of Fame star back in 1983.
64. Shatner is active on Twitter @WilliamShatner.
65. He likes to sign most of his tweets “My best, Bill.”
66. Shatner’s voiceover was used in the final Star Trek: Enterprise episode.
67. Shatner is a vegetarian.
68. He has three daughters from his first marriage: Leslie, Lisabeth, and Melanie.
69. Shatner enjoys playing both paintball and tennis.
70. Shatner says that he declined Richard Branson’s offer to send him into space because Branson expected him to pay for it.
71. In an infamous Saturday Night Live sketch back in 1986, Shatner told a bunch of Trekkies to “get a life.”
72. After playing the host of the Miss USA Pageant in 2000’s Miss Congeniality, Shatner hosted the real 50th Annual Miss USA Pageant in 2001.
73. Shatner cameos as the chancellor of the dodgeball tournament in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.
74. Back in the late ’60s both Shatner and Nimoy recorded covers of famous songs for an album entitled Spaced Out: The Best of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner.
75. Shatner has written a series of novels about Kirk’s resurrection and 24th century adventures.
76. He also has released a novel, Star Trek: Academy – Collision Course, which details how he believes the Star Trek universe began.
77. Shatner starred in the reality TV series, Invasion Iowa, which took place in Riverside, Iowa, the future birthplace of Captain Kirk.
78. Shatner’s disembodied head was featured in the intro for Conan O’Brien’s “In the Year 3000” segment.
79. Shatner will reportedly play the dad in CBS’s new series, Shit My Dad Says.