There is no grey area, no subtlety — William Shatner is, and today the man who will forever be known as Captain James T. Kirk, turns 81 years old.
In my life I’ve been both thrilled and horrified by the Shat. A man who co-exists in my memory as this energy infused swagger machine with a baby-making smile in re-runs of Star Trek: TOS and also as the Priceline guy, whose self respect hurdled to it’s demise long before the “character” did. Should I have spoiler alerted that? Oh well.
Shatner has played a lawyer, a cop, a dad who says shit, and a man cursed with the ability to only speak in Esperanto, and through it all he did barely any of it convincingly. Still, he did it because he so clearly loved the sound of applause and the benefits that come from it. Shatner has long been a joke, a ham, but he is our ham, loveable in how eagerly he wants to please, and so on his special day, we say thank you and well done to William Shatner with these 5 signature moments from his 5 decade long career.
There is no order to these, but surely the “KHAAAAAAAAN!!!” moment is the most aurally recognizable of all the Shatner moments. Big ups to Ricardo Montalban for his Tina Turner haircut and the open chest look that inspired Simon Cowell and cursed the eyes of one million American children long after Montalban had passed on to Fantasy Island.
Oh yes, he sings. If you were somehow unaware of The Shat’s singing abilities then you are missing out on aproximately 1/2 of his awesomeness. Through the years, Shatner has rapped or sung dozens of standards and original songs written for him by the likes of Ben Folds. Other choice selections include his version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, which I would have included had I been high enough to fully appreciate it.
“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is one of the more celebrated episodes of The Twilight Zone, and one that gave us a mere taste of The Shat Man’s overacting abilities prior to him boarding the Enterprise. I could not find a clip with “the line”, but you know it. Shatner plays a man who has seemingly recovered from a mental break, while on the flight home he encounters… “something on the wing!” and proceeds to let free his shit once more, finally going out on the wing with a revolver to shoot something that looked like a pig faced lamb with destructive tendencies. We get the full range of emotions on this one.
“There’s something on the hood of this car!” Shatner shows his athletic prowess in this episode of TJ Hooker, and holds onto the hood of a fleeing car with as much tenacity as he has held onto his career. Yes ladies, that is Adrian Zmed, that feather haired adonis at the close of the scene. Sadly Dick Herd (giggle) is not in this clip. I am 12 years old.
I’m closing with the epic Spock vs. Kirk fight in the “Amok Time” episode of Star Trek. I know, I know, 2 Trek mentions, how easy — but the man will forever be know as Captain Kirk and this is one hell of a memorable and thrilling fight scene.
There are, of course, a ton of other great Shatner moments and more to come (because of his deal with the devil), so however you think of Shatner remember one thing, he has made it impossible to not.