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William Shatner: Star in space, star on television

William Shatner: Star in space, star on television

Capt. James T. Kirk comes to Proctors Wednesday
William Shatner: Star in space, star on television
William Shatner performs at New York's Music Box Theatre in February 2012.
Photographer: new york times

William Shatner has worked in courtrooms, on horseback, in police cars and - most famously - on television's starship Enterprise.

People who know science fiction, pop culture and icons from the 1960s know Shatner as Capt. James T. Kirk, who fought a glitter-eyed, walking, hissing lizard; talked two murderous computers into killing themselves; and figured out those purring, furry Tribbles were nothing but trouble during the series' three-year on NBC.

Shatner would never really leave Kirk, and cashed in with other series regulars when "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" hit movie screens in 1979. That started a run of big budget "Star Trek" films that ended in 1994, with "Star Trek: Generations."

Shatner will be in Schenectady on Wednesday, and Captain Kirk is coming with him. The 87-year-old actor will discuss his life and career at Proctors in an appearance that will also include a screening of 1982's "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." A question-and-answer session will also be part of the evening.

The show begins at 7:30 p.m.

While the image of Shatner in a mustard yellow tunic (sometimes lime green) with gold trim, black pants with odd cuffs and black boots is well known to Trek and pop culture fans, people should know Shatner had plenty of work before -- and after - he masqueraded as a Romulan to steal a cloaking device, fought Mr. Spock on Vulcan and blew up the invincible "Doomsday Machine" in deep space.

Here are some of Shatner's other film and television parts, culled from the Internet Movie Data Base, where 239 acting credits are listed:

  • Space exploration might have always been in the cards. Shatner's second acting gig came in 1953, when he was featured in the early outer space program "Space Command."
  • In 1958, Shatner became one of the "Brothers Karamazov," based on Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky's final novel. In the movie, Shatner played brother Alexi, Yul Brynner was Dmitri and Richard Basehart - who would command an underwater super-ship in the 1960s' "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" - was Ivan.
  • Shatner joined an all-star cast that included Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster and Marlene Dietrich, for the 1961 film production of "Judgment at Nuremberg."
  • Roger Corman, the celebrated schlock director of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, signed Shatner as his star in "The Intruder," a 1962 film about a smooth "social reformer" who does nothing but stir up racial trouble in a southern town.
  • Shatner made two appearances in the classic 1960s program "The Twilight Zone," and one of them - the airplane thriller "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" from 1963  - is widely regarded as one of the series' best episodes. In the story, Shatner's character has just recovered from a nervous breakdown and sees a monstrous gremlin on the plane wing, trying to sabotage the plane. But nobody believes him.
  • Space was back on the Shatner resume in 1964, when he played an astronaut on "The Outer Limits" - a cousin to the "The Twilight Zone" but with more sci-fi and more outlandish creature costumes.
  • Had "For the People" become a hit for CBS during the 1965 season, Captain James T. Kirk might have been played by someone like Jack Lord. But the CBS series, in which Shatner starred as a passionate New York City assistant district attorney, was cancelled after 13 episodes during the spring of '65.
  • "Star Trek" was cancelled in 1969, but Captain Kirk's real voice was back on TV in 1973 and 1974, when "Star Trek: The Animated Series" showed up on Saturday mornings. Shatner and several other series regulars reprised their roles.
  • Shatner returned to live action as an 1800s government agent, battling criminals and spies with Doug McClure in the short-lived 1975-76 "Barbary Coast" series.
  • Bill had it easier in space, and easier on the coast. He melted in the 1975 horror film "The Devil's Rain" and had to fight off a spider invasion in 1977's "Kingdom of the Spiders."
  • Law and order became a full-time gig for Shatner when his veteran police officer "T.J. Hooker" began patrols for ABC in 1982. CBS picked up the show's last year in 1985.
  • Sirens and red lights were still in Shatner's game plan in 1989, when he began hosting reenactments (sometimes real footage) of emergency calls on "Rescue 911." The series ran until 1996.
  • "The Big Giant Head" - king of the galaxy for the alien crew in "3rd Rock From the Sun," - became part of Shatner's rogue's gallery in 1999.
  • Hotshot lawyer Denny Crane put Shatner in court for five episodes of "The Practice" in 2004 - the series' final season. The character would return in "Boston Legal," which ran from 2004 until 2008. Shatner won an Emmy for playing Denny in 2005.
  • Shatner's latest TV project is "Better Late Than Never," in which he travels just one world with new pals Terry Bradshaw, George Foreman and Henry Winkler.

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]  

William Shatner and "The Wrath of Khan"

WHEN: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady

HOW MUCH: $35.50 - $150

MORE INFO: www.proctors.org




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