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The Great William Shatner

This article on William Shatner “gets it.”

On March 22, William Shatner turns 75, and there’s a variety of popular reactions to that news:

(a) God, I feel old.

(b) He looks fabulous!

(c) Beam him up already.

(d) Like, he got famous as — what? That fat TV cop in the ’80s?

Whether you love him or loathe him, are newly amazed at his onscreen brilliance or stuck in the dinosaur ages of thinking he’s a big joke, one thing is undeniable: William Shatner is incomparable.

For three quarters of a century the man has been going boldly, making indelible mark after indelible mark on our popular culture — as a Shakespearean actor, as Capt. James Tiberius Kirk of the “Star Trek” starship Enterprise, as cop stereotype T.J. Hooker, as an author, musician, pitch man and, above all, as the most self-aware, self-deprecating presence in Hollywood.

“Shatner’s had 10 careers. He’s had 20,” says Shatner’s new celebrity “fame audit” on FameTracker.com. “He’s had entire careers before breakfast. You could tell your life story twice in the time it would take him to tell the story about that one time he pantsed [‘Star Trek’ co-star] DeForrest Kelley. Shatner has conquered. He was cool, then he was nerd-cool, then he was kitsch, then he was kitsch-cool, then he was knowing-wink cool, then just plain cool again, and now he’s something better than cool. He made himself a punchline with such debonair cunning that — guess what — the man is not a punchline anymore.”

Those who invested in Shatner back in initial offerings — what we wouldn’t give to see some of those early Shakespeare performances (“To. Be. Or not. To. Be. …”)! — have reaped some belly-laugh dividends, no doubt. Those who bought in during one of the “Star Trek” franchises simply followed the bullish herd. Those who sold him out too soon forfeited his best returns — 2004’s transcendent CD “Has Been,” and the last couple of years of engaging, Emmy-winning work on ABC’s “Boston Legal.” At 75, way past retirement age, Shatner’s cultural cache is worth more than ever.

For more of my musings on Shatner, you can listen to the following podcasts:

  • The View from Here August 26th, 2005
  • Israellycool Podcast #15
  • Israellycool Podcast #34
  • About the author

    Picture of David Lange

    David Lange

    A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
    Picture of David Lange

    David Lange

    A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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