15 Things You Probably Didn't Know About William Shatner

List Rules
Vote up the facts that made you say, "Whoa."

For many science fiction fans, William Shatner is the end-all, be-all of starship captains, but the Canadian actor is far more than that. Shatner has been actively working in television and film for nearly 60 years. The nonagenarian has shown no signs of stopping anytime soon. The Star Trek actor has been associated with a ton of franchises over the years, and he's amassed a fandom spread across the globe.

Still, how much does the average fan know about William Shatner? If you only know him from Star Trek, odds are, there are plenty of things you probably didn't know about William Shatner. This list highlights some of the most fascinating facts about Shatner. Take a look at them, and don't forget to upvote your favorite interesting fact about William Shatner before you head to your TV to binge every episode of Star Trek and Boston Legal!


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    140 VOTES

    He Went Out Of His Way To Keep 'That Kiss' From Being Cut

    These days, an interracial kiss on television isn't something that raises an eyebrow, but it wasn't always like that. For decades, such an act was considered taboo and wasn't allowed on TV. Then, in 1968's Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren," Captain Kirk embraced and kissed Lieutenant Uhura to widespread astonishment. The kiss made a significant impact on society, and it pushed Nichelle Nichols into becoming a lifelong activist. She was the first African American woman to have a recurring role on a major TV series, and the kiss broke new boundaries for the actress.

    The kiss was going to be controversial no matter what, and the producers of the episode knew that. Shatner and Nichols knew it, as well, but Shatner was determined to make sure that kiss made it onto the airwaves. NBC executives were on-hand to ensure things went smoothly, as their concern over how the kiss would be perceived in the Southern United States grew. The production was told to take several shots, including the kiss, but also options showing their embrace without any lips locking.

    Shatner purposefully flubbed all of the takes that didn't show the kiss. According to Nichols, "We did a few takes, but Bill was deliberately trying to flub it. At one point, he even crossed his eyes to make me laugh." After a while, the NBC execs gave up and decided to let the scene play out as it was written. This action proved to be an important and monumental moment in television history.

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    119 VOTES

    He Recorded A Wake-Up Call For The Crew Of The Space Shuttle 'Discovery'

    Star Trek has long been tied with the American space program, and for a good reason. When it aired, the Space Race was well underway, and sci-fi adventures like Star Trek were all the rage. As the fandom grew (following the series' cancellation), more and more people associated the name Enterprise with actual space exploration. Numerous Star Trek actors have worked with or visited NASA during important events.

    One such interaction came when Shatner recorded a wake-up call for the crew of STS-133 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. On March 7, 2011, the Discovery was set to leave the International Space Station. The crew awoke to the musical theme from Star Trek with a voiceover provided by the captain of that ship.

    The message said, "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." The recording was chosen via a public NASA poll, and Shatner (and the accompanying music) won.

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    107 VOTES

    He Got Tinnitus While Filming 'Star Trek'

    William Shatner developed tinnitus from an explosion on the set of the Star Trek series that permanently damaged his hearing. He sought help from doctors across the country and ended up wearing a hearing device that produced white noise.

    The solution worked, and because he understands how bad the condition can be, Shatner has gone on to help others, as well. He even told The Aquarian that he "talked people down" from trying to take their own lives. In addition to counseling those who needed someone to talk to about their problem, he supports the American Tinnitus Association. Shatner ultimately overcame his issues with tinnitus, and it only affects him when he's talking about it, though it remains manageable. 

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    123 VOTES

    He Pranked Richard Donner Into Thinking He Died On The Set Of 'The Twilight Zone'

    He Pranked Richard Donner Into Thinking He Died On The Set Of 'The Twilight Zone'
    Photo: CBS

    William Shatner's appearance on The Twilight Zone is the stuff of legend. He starred in the episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," which stands as the most popular episode of the entire series. The episode was so beloved, it was remade for Twilight Zone: The Movie 20 years after it first aired, with John Lithgow assuming the role played by Shatner. While there's plenty of interesting information about the episode to delve into, the best story comes from behind the scenes.

    Shatner is a well-known prankster, which has led to numerous problems and hilarious events throughout his career. The prank he played on Richard Donner, the episode's director, lands somewhere in the middle. The episode's production was massive, as it required an airplane inside a tank with all kinds of fans and weather-simulating machines. It was pretty high off the ground, which is the key factor in Shatner's prank.

    According to Donner, he had just gone out to get some coffee, leaving Shatner and Edd Byrnes (a visitor on the set that day) to come up with the prank. When Donner was finished getting his coffee, he heard screaming and yelling, so he ran back to see the two men fighting. "And all of a sudden, I see Shatner fall off the wing and fall all the way to the bottom - it's concrete - and he hit the ground." Essentially, the goof the two actors cooked up had the director thinking he'd killed William Shatner.

    "I thought he was dead, man. And I came running up, and I grabbed him... and then everybody's standing around laughing." Donner didn't know it at the time, but he saw a dummy thrown to the ground. When he saw what he thought was Shatner fall off the plane, his first thought went right to the episode's production: "Honestly, my first reaction was, 'Don't tell me I have to shoot the whole show over again.'"

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    91 VOTES

    He Funded A Habitat For Humanity House With His Kidney Stone

    Fans of celebrities love to buy anything related to their work and their lives. Celebs commonly auction off various items they may have used while filming a series or movie, while others auction off their time in "have dinner with..." and "have a drink with..." auctions arising every once in a while to benefit a charitable cause. While it's normal for a Star Trek fan to want something like a communicator or costume worn by Shatner, he's gone a bit further than that.

    In 2006, Shatner sold one of his kidney stones to GoldenPalace.com for a whopping $25,000! The purpose of the sale was to directly benefit Habitat for Humanity. On an appearance on The View, Shatner explained that the $25K was boosted by an additional $20,000 donated by the cast of Boston Legal. The fact that he kept the stone and had it for sale is odd enough, but the best part of the story is that he was initially offered far less money for the unusual item:

    When I was contacted about selling my kidney stone to GoldenPalace.com for an original price of $15,000, I turned it down knowing that my tunics from Star Trek have commanded more than $100,000. I offered the stone, stint, and string for $25,000 and informed them that 100% of the proceeds would go to benefit Habitat for Humanity - and I retain visitation rights.

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    95 VOTES

    He Was In A Longstanding 'Star Wars' Versus 'Star Trek' Feud With Carrie Fisher For Years

    Ever since 1977, there has been an ongoing feud between fans of Star Trek and Star Wars. Of course, "feud" isn't exactly the right word since it usually boils down to comparing the technology or some other aspect of either franchise. Most fans love both franchises, but that doesn't mean a feud didn't exist between the actors from both franchises. William Shatner had a longstanding feud with Carrie Fisher.

    Granted, the feud between the two was rather jovial and often involved interviews or clips of them challenging one another. One such video had Fisher clap back at Shatner, saying the two should get in their respective costumes and face off - if he could still fit into it. Shatner responded, saying, "Everything about Star Wars was special effects. I envy the special effects. The only thing is you guys forgot about story and character and plot development - those kinds of basic things."

    Their feud was rather friendly, and despite the picture, which was Tweeted by Shatner in 2013, the two weren't truly antagonistic toward one another. That said, George Takei attempted to "calm hostilities" when he came out and said the following:

    What's needed today, now, more than ever, is "Star Peace." For there is an ominous, mutual threat to all science fiction. It's called Twilight. And it is really, really bad. Gone is any sense of heroism, camaraderie, or epic battle. In its place, we have vampires... that sparkle, moan, and go to high school. Now, I'm not above mixing in a little sex appeal to spice up the fantasy. But sci-fi fans, be warned: there are no great stories, characters, or profound life lessons to be had in Twilight. No. In Twilight, the only message that rings through loud and clear is, "Does my boyfriend like me?"