William Shatner Turns 80 Years Old

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:28 pm,

shatner 80th birthday William Shatner Turns 80 Years Old

Oh captain, my captain… you sure got old. William Shatner, most famous as the original Captain James T. Kirk on Star Trek, was born on March 22nd, 1931 – 80 years ago today.

Shatner was born in Montreal, and spent his early acting years making the rounds in Canadian Shakespeare troups and festivals. His first film role came in 1951 in a small Canadian picture called Butler’s Night Off. He played various small television and movie roles for several years, with highlights including appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.

Interestingly, Shatner was not the original captain of the Enterprise – that honor goes to Jeffrey Hunter, who played Captain Christopher Pike in the original pilot episode of Star Trek. NBC rejected the pilot, so key roles were recast, including a complete rewrite of the captain character. When Hunter declined the new role, Shatner took it instead.

Shatner played Kirk for all 79 episodes of the original Star Trek, from 1966 to 1969, plus various evil twins, androids, aliens in disguise and the like. When the original series fizzled out after its third season, Shatner continued to land steady work on various TV shows and movies. His B-list status let him guest star on shows like Kung-Fu and The Six Million Dollar Man; he also reprized his role as Kirk along with the rest of the central cast for Star Trek: The Animated Series from 1973-74.

After syndicated reruns gave Star Trek a cult following, Paramount decided to reboot the series in the late ’70s. The series turned into a movie reuniting the Enterprise and her crew, and Shatner returned to his Kirk role for Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979. The movie was a surprise hit, and revitalized the series, which still continues to this day.

Shatner played Kirk in all six Star Trek movies alongside the original cast, plus a special appearance in the first Star Trek: The Next Generation movie Star Trek: Generations. The Kirk character was finally killed off, after almost thirty years of continuity. Chris Pine took over the role for the 2009 Star Trek reboot.

shatner on tj hooker William Shatner Turns 80 Years Old

After Trek hit the mainstream again in the ’80s, Shatner secured several steady roles. His second-most famous character was the title police officer in T.J. Hooker, which ran from 1982-86. Shatner tried his hand at directing with the fifth Star Trek film, The Final Frontier (it wasn’t highly regarded by fans, to say the least).

Since then, Shatner has made a good solid career out of guest appearances and parodies that lampoon his most iconic role. In numerous commercials, Saturday Night Live skits and movies like Airplane II, Shatner’s instant recognition allows him to ham it up for laughs.  You could say the same for most of his modern roles, like the Miss Congeniality movies, Boston Legal and The Practice. He’s also not above playing for the sci-fi audience, as evidenced by appearances on 3rd Rock From the Sun and Futurama.

Shatner’s current gig is the foul-mouthed patriarch of CBS’s $#*! My Dad Says. He also hosts William Shatner’s Weird or What?, a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not-style program on Canada’s History Television.

bleep my dad says tv status William Shatner Turns 80 Years Old

The role Shatner played in the final chapter of NASA’s shuttle program was a special treat for real space heroes the world over. On March 7th, Shatner recorded the wake-up call for the crew of the shuttle Discovery on their last day at the International Space Station. He recited a modified version of his most famous line:

“Space, the final frontier. These have been the voyages of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Her 30 year mission: To seek out new science. To build new outposts. To bring nations together on the final frontier. To boldly go, and do, what no spacecraft has done before.”

What’s your favorite William Shatner or Captain Kirk moment? Let us know in the comments.

Screen Rant would like to wish Mr. Shatner a Happy 80th Birthday – and many more to come!

TAGS: Star trek
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  1. Don’t have a favorite moment to be honest. I never got into Star Trek until Picard came around, and I’ve always seen Shatner as Captain Jerk. I remember when he condemed the reboot, but wanted to be part of the sequel after seeing it.

  2. One of my recent favorite Shatner moment was his cameo on Fanboys. *%#! my dad says is pretty funny too. I am not liking the way the show has derailed seems they are focusing on Will Sasso and his wife too much, which, I personally find very unfunny.

    • The latter hasn’t made an appearance in the UK yet, Ants (or if it has I’ve missed it). Looking forward to that one.

    • Fanboys great film!!!

      One the funniest Shat moments I recall was when I was a kid watching the Saturn Awards. Back then the Saturn Awards were broadcast on I think it was channel 13 or 5?

      As a performing act, Shatner came out and sang “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”

      I remember asking myself, what the hell was wrong with Capt Kirk?

      And sheess gaaaawwn!

  3. Fave “Kirk” :

    In the TOS episode of Return to Tomorrow, his inspirational speech about why man is in space, and that the risk involved is worth everything we’ll find out there. At that moment, I would have served under him as my Captain anytime!

  4. Boston Legal. Pure magic.

  5. Star Trek TOS and Boston Legal … both classics.

  6. Happy Birthday Shatner.

    The SNL skit had to be my favorite, it hit to the heart of Star Trek fandom at the time.

    • Forgot about that. That was hilarious!

    • That was my favorite as well. I also liked his role in Airplane 2, where he went beserk. “All these buttons…and knobs and lights….I can’t stand it anymore! Why don’t someone pull the plug??!!!”

      • (Reminder buy Airplane2 on dvd)

  7. His short stint on 3rd Rock From The Sun was epic.

  8. “Theres… Some-Thing, on the wing… Some…Thing… on-the-wing! You, gotta believe me. I saw… Some-thing, on that wing!”

    The Roast of Shatner on Comedy Central a while back was one of the better ones.

    Love his music career

    • I had no idea he’d tackled “Common People” – priceless. I shan’t rest until I hear The Shat’s take on Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life”!

  9. Shatner will always be the ONLY captain of the Enterprise for me.

    Awesomeness personified.


    • If I had to choose one of the Trek captains to defend earth, it would be Kirk.

      But Spock was my favorite character.

  10. Any time he was on SNL was pure gold. I seem to recall a skit where they had TJ Hooker meets Captian Kirk, and that was hilarious!

    Happy Birthday Mr. Shatner!

  11. Twilight Zone, Judgment at Nuremburg, Star Trek, the comedies, all good stuff. Happy Birthday!

    (I can just imagine all the “beam me up” type jokes when he eventually passes away)

  12. Happy Birthday Bill! You look and act pretty damn good for being 80.

  13. Two years ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gbazzlie0o

    Yes…………..William Shattner & Henry Rollins. Coolest thing ever.

    • Oh em gee! That’s AWESOME!!

      Think there’s some video footage somewhere of my friends and I engaging in a TJ-Hooker-cross-body-slam-a-thon in Barbados a couple of years ago.

      I won by simultaneously slamming three guys standing abreast.

      Shatner, Sir you are a legend.

  14. Oh, Happy Birthday Mister Shattner. (Thx)

  15. Denny Crane! Denny Crane! Denny Crane!

    Every large law firm has one of these oversexed, adolescent, self-absorbed social retards. Shatner’s greatest role just for it’s insightful portrayal!

  16. There is only ONE James T. Kirk. PERIOD. No offense to Chris Pine, but WIlliam Shatner is Captain Kirk

  17. Live long and prosper Captain Kirk!

    May you always have warp drive, full phaser banks and an cute little easy blonde yeoman.

  18. And just to be a complete Trekker–it was not called the Enterprise when Jeffrey Hunter was the captain.

    • You might be thinking of Roddenberry’s original concept, Lane, but it was certainly the Enterprise by the time of The Cage pilot episode.

  19. So, MANY, memories. Too…MANYtochoose. Theee PRESENCE, theintonATIONtheee…SHEER joi de vivre!

    Unmatchable. Many happy returns, Captain.

    And who could forget Barbary Coast? Well, quite a lot of people actually… :-D

    • Make that “jioE de vivre”. I think that sums up Kirk, shirtless or not, soft-focus ladies or not…

  20. Fav Kirk moment


    Happy Birthday, Captain

  21. (C) 3/22/2011 HNNEWS (Redistribution allowed with HNNEWS credit)

    Happy Birthday Captain Kirk – Here’s A Warp Drive

    By Stan Stevnor

    William Shatner got an unusual and unexpected surprise for his 80th birthday. In the Forum section of his web site a post appeared from MarshallBarnes that said “Happy Birthday, Capt. Kirk”. The body of the post explains that after much research and effort, a warp drive prototype will be revealed to the world and that when they’re ready for the first test with a space probe, they’ll let Shatner fly the thing out of Earth orbit via remote control. http://bit.ly/f3oe16

    Though it may sound like an early April Fool’s joke, it’s not. MarshallBarnes is none other than THE Marshall Barnes, who has been credited for really developing a prototype for warp drive that has been seen by a number of scientists and others, including Ike Mgbatogu, reporter for Don King’s Call & Post newspaper, accelerating things faster than they can go under their own power. Since February, he has been aggressively beginning to promote the reality of his invention, the STDTS. A video of it accelerating a target object faster than the speed of gravity during a test dead drop, was even shown at the USA Science and Engineering Festival where NASA Kepler Mission scientist Alan Gould saw it. He was impressed enough to give Marshall his card and allow his name to be used as someone who witnessed it.

    The post on Shatner’s web site includes excerpts from an upcoming science paper that deals with the issue of warp drive physics and explains where and how it went wrong – resulting in calculations that require tremendous amounts of exotic matter and negative energy. The solution, Marshall found was where no one was looking – Einstein’s unfinished Unified Field Theory. He produces documentation to prove it as well.

    The note closed with, “When we’re ready, we’ll invite you to fly the probe out of the Earth’s gravitational field (via remote control of course) to guide it boldly where no man has gone before, and hopefully reaching the speed of light and beyond!

    ‘Til then – Live Long and Prosper,
    Barnes out…”

  22. Yes, 80 years ago in the small town of Riverside, Iowa, in the year 2228…. wait a minute, beam me up Scotty! no, no not there! I’m not ready yet! Happy Birthday old man, hope I look as good and have as much fun as you do when I’m 80. Happy days to you, live long, you’ve already prospered, until you get to the “final frontier”. Cheers!

  23. Happy Birthday William Shatner. WOW! 80 years old. He looks fantastic. Didn’t realize he was a year younger than my Mom :-) Star Trek and I go way back. It was the first TV show I remember seeing on the TV. I think I was around 1-1/2 or so. I was born 2 days before the premiere :-) I love that :-) he he

  24. He’s a legend. No other word to describe him.

    As great as Chris Pine is in the role (and he really is brilliant), Shatner will always be James Tiberious Kirk to millions of people across the planet. I absolutely loved him as Denny Crane, which was arguably his finest hour as an actor.

    • You do realize I can’t allow you to make such an error, right? His middle name is spelled Tiberius (no “O”). I tried to let it go but, well, you know… :-D

  25. Happy birthday shatner.

    Just a little fact, shatner did not play any role in the original pilot, so he actually stared in 78 episodes(ofcourse this does not diminshes his career at all, its just a fact)

    • “Just a little fact, shatner did not play any role in the original pilot, so he actually stared in 78 episodes(ofcourse this does not diminshes his career at all, its just a fact)”

      It’s the simple things, like a studio thinking they need a different face, that can change a persons ENTIRE life.

      • Changed a lot of peoples lives. Kirk was one of my childhood heroes.

        • Drbecket; Jupp, and after Boston legal he kind of still is mine, and i especially like that he doesnt seem to take himself that serious in real life to.

          Ink; true enough, but captain pike wasnt a good fit, and despite our(fans of films) hatred towards the ‘suits’ it was actually mr Hunters own decision to leave the show (if someone pressured him to leave i dont know, and i guess that nobody will)

  26. happy b day shatner =) dam his pretty old now

  27. It just doesn’t seem posssible! Where did the time go. He is sharp as a tack and the hairpiece makes him look so much younger. Here’s wishing for another 80 years Captain Kirk!

  28. Wm. Shatner, I adore you. I never cared about you one way or another, never saw your tv series (don’t even know the name). But I saw you one time riding the flats and I was just so impressed. Then I started watching your BIO programs;”Raw Nerve” and “Aftermath” and think that they are extremely original and I hate to say, too good for what that BIO channel has become w/ those silly ghost stories. That’s neither here or there. Then I saw you on the commercials and that was it, I said out loud to myself:”I love William Shatner! and indeed, I truly do.
    I forgot something, I saw you on a program probably from the early to mid ’60′s, oh and you were just so handsome.
    I’m glad to see someone who is aging just as you are. You are having a ball and have no ego! I wish I were just where you are. I”m 70. But I ain’t no where where you are.
    I absolutely adore you Mr. Shatner.
    May you live forever.

  29. Your my dad’s age and miss him happy birthday