William Shatner gained international fame on television — and later in the movies — playing the handsome, compassionate James T. Kirk in the sci-fi cult classic, "Star Trek."
Few actors are as closely identified with a single character as Shatner is with Kirk, the captain of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise in the original 1960s series. Later, as an admiral, Kirk continued to command the starship crew in 1979's "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," exposing Shatner to a new generation of fans and elevating him to a cultural icon. He built on his renown in six more feature films.
Born in Montreal in 1931, and trained as a Shakespearean actor, Shatner brought a dignity and intelligence to the role of Kirk that would do much, along with the cold rationality of Leonard Nimoy's Mr. Spock, to give the groundbreaking series its cerebral tone. Shatner, who formed a lasting off-screen friendship with Nimoy, would later loosen up and add an edge to his persona in his recent roles as TV pitchman for Priceline.com and talk-show host on television's "Shatner's Raw Nerve."
Like Nimoy, Shatner was far more versatile than his Star Trek legacy would suggest. He won two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award for his role as an attorney on the TV series "Boston Legal," and has worked as a producer and director.
Shatner has been married four times. His third wife, Nerine Kidd-Shatner, was discovered drowned in the swimming pool of their Los Angeles home in 1999, two years after they were wed. Alcohol and Valium were found in her system, and the death was ruled accidental.