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At 91, Star Trek’s William Shatner is still going strong

I still remember when, as a teenager in 1966, I eagerly watched every episode of Star Trek, as the crew of the Starship Enterprise went on its mission, boldly going where no man had gone before.

Now, in 2022, those crew members who are still with us are getting quite old. This past week’s news of the passing — from natural causes at the age of 89 (see https://uhura.com) — of Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Communications Officer Lieutenant Uhura in the first Star Trek television series and with whom Captain James T. Kirk shared the first interracial, on-screen, Prime-Time television kiss, back when that was unprecedented, was a real reality check. Slowly but surely, we are losing the crew of the Starship Enterprise.

Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura) at the Rio Vista Universal Valkyrie Awards — California Science Center

I saw William Shatner on the morning of July 21, during the first full day of Comic-Con, in the lobby of Theatre Box San Diego.

There he was honored in a ceremony in which he memorialized his autograph and handprints in concrete, to be added next to those of other famous people at Theatre Box San Diego (a theater affiliated with the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood).

I could not believe my eyes when I realized that he is 91 years old, and yet he is still going strong. Perhaps his secret for a long and active life is our shared Canadian roots.

Shatner was joined by Paul Wesley — this year’s Captain Kirk, as seen in Paramount+’s “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” streaming series…

The two Kirks: Paul Wesley — Captain Kirk in Paramount+’s “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” & William Shatner — Star Trek’s original Captain Kirk

…famous film critic Leonard Maltin…

William Shatner & film critic Leonard Maltin

…Master of Ceremonies Stephen Kramer Glickman — actor, comedian and host of “The Night Time Show” podcast…

Stephen Kramer Glickman, Master of Ceremonies

…and Legion M’s co-founder and CEO Paul Scanlan…

Legion M co-founder & CEO Paul Scanlan

Citing, as an example, his stellar performance in the 1997 recreation of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio drama “War of the Worlds,” Leonard Maltin said that “William Shatner is the complete actor. He can do anything, and anything he puts his mind to…” — interrupted by Shatner who quipped “I do windows, as well!” (LAUGHTER from the audience).

Maltin continued, adding: “Whatever he does, you know he’s going to do it well, and that’s why we love him, and we remember him and we want to honor him today.”

Leonard Maltin

As Paul Wesley (the new Captain Kirk) said: “How do you replace a legend? Well, you don’t. It’s simply not possible. Why would you try? Instead you promise to safeguard the legacy entrusted to you, and then you go out and you do the work. You find some way to make the role your own, while honoring the history. … This character’s place in entertainment history is indelible. … No matter where you go, no matter where you are, an image of Captain Kirk brings instant recognition. … For nearly 60 years that role has been personified by a man of equally renowned stature — Mr. William Shatner. … Thankfully Bill, or Mr. Shatner — the original Captain himself, went out of his way to make a newcomer like me feel welcome, and for that I will ever feel grateful. So, without further ado, Mr. Shatner, you have the con.”

Paul Wesley — Captain Kirk in Paramount+’s “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds”

Before signing his name in the concrete and adding his handprints, Shatner thanked everyone for being there, made a few brief comments and, to the delight of the audience, added this quip: “Do I put my face in it?” (in the cement).

The first time he wrote his name he then said “I didn’t leave enough room for Shatner. There’s a big William there, and then Shatner peters out — and that’s the story of my life! … (more LAUGHTER) … I’ll sign it again.”

Then Santos Resendiz, the third person who has been the concrete artist at the world-famous TCL Chinese Theater’ in Hollywood, smoothed over the area, and Shatner tried again. This signature attempt was good, as were his handprints.

After everyone left, Resendiz meticulously removed the excess cement and then took the block away to harden.

This was a Legion M event.

Legion M, the world’s first entertainment company designed to be owned by fans (with over 150,000 people in the community, and over 35,000 investors), is working with Exhibit A Pictures to produce a definitive documentary film about the life of William Shatner.

Shatner, who joined Legion M’s advisory board, said: “For years I’ve had people approaching me to do a documentary about my life, but I turned them all down because it didn’t feel like the right fit. Alexandre (director Alexandre O. Philippe) and I hit it off right away, and when I heard how Legion M wanted to incorporate audiences to be a part of it, it was perfect. Fans have been responsible for my career — it only seems right that they should own this doc.”

Copyright © 2022 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #753r3 extended

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Jan Wagner

5 Comments

  1. David Sperry on August 4, 2022 at 4:03 pm

    Jan, a wonderful, upbeat article about a great actor. No matter how many new actors play Captain Kirk in new generations of Star Trek, William Shatner will always be the definitive Captain Kirk.

    I understand his concern over a documentary of his life. Shatner doesn’t strike me as being a vain person, so he probably thought a documentary would take him too seriously. Now, with fans and audiences being incorporated in the film, it will have the lighthearted touch he wants.

    Your photos of a happy Shatner are right on! In the second last pic, the gentleman on the extreme left in the yellow sweater could have been Shatner’s stunt double a few years back. If not, they must be twins.

  2. David Sperry on August 5, 2022 at 12:18 am

    Jan, what a great column. As an original Star Trek fan, It must have been so much fun for you to attend an event honoring William Shatner. No matter how many new actors come along to play the next generation Captain Kirk, Shatner will always be the first and genuine Kirk.

    I can understand why Shatner might be reluctant to have a documentary done on his life. He does not seem to be a vain person, and would be uncomfortable in a film focused entirely on himself. Now, with fans and audiences involved in the movie, it should have the the more informal and lighthearted tone he is looking for.

    This article has just the right amount of photos and allowed me to study each one in detail. I noticed in the second to last photo that the gentleman to the extreme left in the yellow sweater looks like the stunt double for Shatner, a few years ago. If not, he could be Shatner’s twin brother.

  3. David Sperry on August 5, 2022 at 11:23 am

    Jan, Breaking News! As you know, the first two versions of my comments disappeared into cyberspace, but as I sat down to do a third version, the other two suddenly appeared.

    It’s amazing that the 2nd version is so similar to the original… it was done from memory. Not bad for a super seasoned senior citizen!

    I’d love to know if the guy in the yellow sweater, at the far left of the second to last photo, was Shatner’s stunt double.

    • Jan Wagner on August 5, 2022 at 11:31 am

      David,
      I phoned GoDaddy this morning about your disappearing comments. It turns out that I inadvertently caused that to happen when I added certain words to my blocked commenters exclusion list (of email addresses, websites, etc.). Those words that caused the automatic removal of your comments have now been deleted from my exclusions list and, as you can see, your two comments were retrieved from the trash and restored. The problem that I was trying to address is that I get SPAM comments from bots that are trying to build the SEO of websites that the bots link to in their SPAM, generic posts.
      Jan

  4. David Sperry on August 5, 2022 at 11:46 am

    Jan, I’m glad everything was restored by GoDaddy. I must have made my 3rd comment within minutes of the restoration. Life is back to normal. David

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