Ever wondered how to play a starship captain, become famous for your spoken-word renditions of well-known songs, amass more than 750,000 Twitter followers, and then win the part of a clueless dad on a new sitcom?
William Shatner’s here to tell you. The sci-fi icon’s new book is titled “Shatner Rules: Your Key to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large.” The book details his life rules, sharing along the way stories about “Star Trek” and other Shatner experiences as well as some serious reflections on life. There are also a few barbs directed at his “Trek” co-star George Takei, in addition to asides from Shatner labeled “Notes” and “Fun Factners.”
Shatner soared to fame playing Captain James Tiberius Kirk in the first iteration of the science fiction TV series “Star Trek” (and he points out in his new book that no one ever actually said the phrase “Beam me up, Scotty,” on the show). He also became famous for his pause-inflected speech patterns on the show.
“Theoretically, it's dramatic," he said about his well-known halting speech cadences in an interview with ABC. "Did you receive that information? Hang on a second. Here. Comes. Another."
He later became known for his unusual takes on famous songs, including “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” and the Bob Dylan song “Mr. Tambourine Man,” which he performed on “The Johnny Carson Show” to confusion from the audience and Carson. Shatner says in an interview with ABC that the song was supposed to be a two-part piece about drugs and that the song as he performed it doesn’t make sense without the second part.
“You need to hear the two pieces," he said. "[People] don't get it in context.”
After he became the face of Priceline, a website that gives users discounts on travel expenses, Shatner's wacky personality in the commercials inspired TV producer David E. Kelley to cast him as “Boston Legal” and “The Practice” character Denny Crane, Shatner explains in the book.
Of his feud with “Trek” co-star George Takei, who played Sulu in the original series, Shatner writes in his book that Takei has been “saying mean things about me for nearly forty years now.” Shatner says in the book that he wasn’t invited to Takei’s wedding (Takei says he sent an invitation) and that the only reason Takei asked Walter Koenig, who played Chekov on “Star Trek," and Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, to be in the wedding was for publicity.
Shatner’s book is out now and he will also be releasing another spoken-word CD, titled “Seeking Major Tom,” which explores what Shatner thinks happened after the David Bowie song “Space Oddity.” It will also include the actor’s rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.