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Up Till Now

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“It is now Bill Shatner’s universe---we just live in it.”---New York Daily News

After almost sixty years as an actor, William Shatner has become one of the most beloved entertainers in the world. And it seems as if Shatner is everywhere. Winning an Emmy for his role on Boston Legal. Doing commercials for Priceline.com. In the movie theaters. Singing with Ben Folds. He’s sitting next to Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel, and he’s practically a regular on Howard Stern’s show. He was recently honored with election to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame. He was a target on a Comedy Central’s Celebrity Roast entitled “The Shat Hits the Fan.” In Up Till Now, Shatner sits down with readers and offers the remarkable, full story of his life and explains how he got to be, well, everywhere.

It was the original Star Trek series, and later its films, that made Shatner instantly recognizable, called by name---or at least by Captain Kirk’s name---across the globe. But Shatner neither began nor has ended his career with that role. From the very start, he took his skills as an actor and put them to use wherever he could. He straddled the classic world of the theater and the new world of television, whether stepping in for Christopher Plummer in Shakespeare’s Henry V or staring at “something on the wing” in a classic episode of The Twilight Zone. And since then, he’s gone on to star in numerous successful shows, such as T.J. Hooker, Rescue 911, and most recently Boston Legal.

William Shatner has always been willing to take risks for his art. What other actor would star in history’s first---and probably only---all-Esperanto-language film? Who else would share the screen with thousands of tarantulas, release an album called Has Been, or film a racially incendiary film in the Deep South during the height of the civil rights era? And who else would willingly paramotor into a field of waiting fans armed with paintball guns, all waiting for a chance to stun Captain…er, Shatner?

In this touching and very funny autobiography, William Shatner reveals the man behind these unforgettable moments, and how he’s become the worldwide star and experienced actor he is today.



358 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 2008

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About the author

William Shatner

113 books752 followers
William Shatner is the author of nine Star Trek novels, including the New York Times bestsellers The Ashes of Eden and The Return. He is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Get a Life! and I'm Working on That. In addition to his role as Captain James T. Kirk, he stars as Denny Crane in the hit television series from David E. Kelley, Boston Legal -- a role for which he has won two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 459 reviews
Profile Image for Andrew Smith.
1,080 reviews618 followers
July 9, 2016
I was twelve or thirteen when Star Trek was first shown on the BBC. I formed an instant and enduring attachment this world outside of our world. I loved it; all my friends loved it. And I had found a hero, a man that I truly admired and wished to emulate: James T. Kirk. The series seemed to be on permanent repeat through the 70’s and 80’s, so it’s fair to say I grew up with Kirk as a constant in my life. In consequence, I’ve always struggled a bit to accept William Shatner in any other role. Indeed, I’ve often shirked the notion that Shatner’s personality could be any different to the suave and serious (but with a soupcon of wry humour) Captain of the Starship Enterprise. Well, having read this book that’s one childhood misjudgement exposed!

In fact, having laid bare the truth that Shatner is very different indeed to Kirk, it also opened my eyes to what an engaging, funny and interesting man he really is. I listened to the audio version of this autobiography, read by author himself. This was a mixed blessing. I always enjoy listening to people tell their own story and he’s got the actor’s gift of perfect timing when it comes to delivering the, often hilarious, anecdotes. But he has a tendency to drift into a mumble at the end of some sentences and I found I had to listen carefully so as not to miss anything. My finger was constantly tweaking the volume control.

I hadn’t realised that Star Trek ran for only three series (seventy-nine episodes) – having watched it for about 20 years I thought there were hundreds of episodes. Moreover, I hadn’t even considered the fact that the series was considered, at the time of it’s cancellation, a bit of a flop. Shatner states quite clearly that he was keen to move on and forget the series. To him it was just another in a continuous line of stage, film and television roles he’d enacted in a career that was already into its second decade. The reality is that Star Trek only became a success when broadcast syndication brought it to a much wider audience some years after its initial demise. Of course, in time Kirk became the role that defined Shatner and – as he willingly points out – carved the way for many of the opportunities that followed.

The book touches on his early life in Canada, where he was born in 1931. All of his grandparents were Jewish immigrants and he was raised in Conservative Judaism. His father hoped he would one day run the family Clothing Manufacture business, but Shatner always wanted to act. Following graduation he commenced a career as an administrator in a theatre company but quickly dropped the admin (he kept losing tickets and mixing up bookings) to focus on acting.

Particularly in the early days, Shatner suffered from the actor’s fear of lack of work and the consequent inability to earn a sustainable living. As a result, he grabbed pretty much every role that came his way – and even refused to take holidays for fear he’d miss a call. Even after enjoying significant success through lead roles in series such as TJ Hooker and Boston legal it seems he was able to maintain energy levels most Olympic athletes would envy and completely rejects the concept of retirement. One quirky element is that he often interrupted the flow of a story to drop in a plug for his web site which, he professed, sold pretty much anything and everything he could (even loosely) associate his name to. So I had a look to quench my curiosity… how about:

- A two-page script revision from Boston Legal for a bargain $19.99
- Maybe a signed photo of the man himself, a snippet at $69.95
- Or best of all, what about a yellow vase once used as a Star Trek prop at an eye watering $159

There are anecdotes a plenty as he talked through his many adventures, pranks and marriages (four of them) and I seldom had a smile off my face as I listened. He’s a funny guy. He’s also eccentric – well actually he’s probably a bit nutty! But I couldn’t help but warm to him. I’d love to spend an afternoon in his company, I just know he’d be a hoot.

A rather weird element I came across for the first time was his ‘singing’ career. I’m not sure if this was all tongue-in-cheek humour or if he seriously thought it had artistic merit - he seems to play it both ways in his book. If you’ve not come across his spoken word version of one of Elton John’s greatest hits then do take a look: Rocket Man

But the humour saturating his life story is counterpointed by accounts of the sad moments too. For instance, I didn’t know that his third wife drowned in the home swimming pool, whilst under the influence of alcohol. Shatner had left her home alone for the day and discovered her body upon his return. This is harrowing stuff and I found it enthralling but uncomfortable to listen to.

Overall it’s one of the most entertaining autobiographies I’ve picked up in a long time. A definite for all Trekkies but as most people will have come across Shatner at some point (you’d have had to have lived in a cave for the past fifty years not to) then pretty much anyone can get something from this one.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,041 followers
May 11, 2015
Shatner is often a self-absorbed ass, but I think that can be said of most of us. He's not only like that in real life, but plays one on TV so the impression is hammered home. Yes, he even admits Denny Crane is just an overblown version of himself. (No, I don't think he had to add much air.) But, like most of us, that's not all he is. In this somewhat wandering assortment of anecdotes, he does a great job telling us more about the man behind the screen.

Listening to it as an audio book was fantastic. His odd, informal style was great. "Hey, you've made it to chapter 3!" was good, but sudden breaks to commercials pimping a Star Trek action figure on his or his daughter's web site was actually funny. Telling me I can find a copy of one of his worst movies for a penny on Amazon was hilarious. And the anecdotes were wonderful. There were a lot of them & they strayed all over the chronology, sometimes to the detriment of the overall story, but still entertaining.

My first impression of Shatner was as a little kid watching him in "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" an episode from the last season of the Twilight Zone. I'd never list him as an 'A list' actor, but he's memorable & I wasn't impressed. John Wayne was more my style at that age. Worse, John Wayne was always John Wayne - The Duke - & I didn't get the episode, so when I saw Shatner a few years later starring as Captain Kirk, I had to drastically shift my perception of him. He's the first actor I remember having to do that for.

My wife & I are both fans of Star Trek (She had one of Leonard Nimoy's LPs when we got married. We listened to it together - once.) but we don't pay much attention the entertainment industry. We're interested in their final creations, not what they do in their personal life. Still, even the rock I live under wasn't enough to completely block out all the criticisms of Shatner. Wil Wheaton mentions how Shatner crushed him as a young star in 'Next Generation' in his book of short stories Dancing Barefoot. I can believe it. I doubt Shatner meant to be mean or thought it was a big deal. He's too self-absorbed. (This incident isn't mentioned in this book at all.) I heard how Doohan (Scotty) & Koenig (Chekov) hated Shatner & why. Shatner's take on it puts some perspective on the situation that is needed, IMO. He makes no excuses, but they do take a picture together that's pretty telling.

Shatner always impressed me as an actor who would do any damn thing - clown, prostitute, or what? I never really knew or thought about it much, but apparently some have. He says he'd do any damn thing & makes no apologies for it. He had a mortgage to pay, 3 kids to feed, a hell of a work ethic, & he loves his work, the entire industry. So sure, he'd do anything & he's made some whopping mistakes, but they often turned out not to be in the long run. It's great how some turned around to help him decades later & how he can make fun of those that didn't. "Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time." So did running after an elephant one night in his underwear in the jungle with a man-eating lion around. Obviously, he's more impetuous & adventurous than I am. Cool!

I had to shift my perceptions of him again when I found out where he came from & what his early jobs were - an inner city Jew from Montreal who played a lot of comedic roles & Shakespeare. In many ways, his early life was similar to Kirk Douglas. I think he's aged better, though. Shatner still has a child-like sense of wonder & joy in exploring the world where Douglas has retreated into religion & family. Maybe it's their age.

I loved the bits about his horses. He mentions how the cost of buying the horse is often the least expensive part & then goes on to quickly list all the other expenses. Although I don't think he meant to be funny, I found his deadpan, quick recitation hilarious & so true. It's a list any true horseman can & will rattle off to those who say something stupid like "free horse" or "It must cost a lot to feed him." Right. We wish.

All in all, it was a great way to spend the weekend - mowing the lawn & fields & listening to Shatner tell me his life story. That's the way it felt, too. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Margitte.
1,177 reviews539 followers
May 20, 2015
I was gifted this audiobook and was simply delighted and so very grateful.

William Shatner was always an enigma to me. He never was, and still isn't a George Clooney, or a Rock Hudson, a drop-dead gorgeously attractive man, yet, he has a presence in every role he ever performed. I loved everything he performed in. He has a 'mensch'-aura around him. Grounded and realistic. The fact that he takes marriage seriously (even if he was married 4 times), worked very hard and maintains a healthy relationship with his family, confirm my observation of the seriousness he approaches life and his work. He does not have a problem with making fun of himself, and is an experienced actor in any genre he works in.

This book discusses the highs and lows of his life in an honest and witty way. Writing an autobiography obviously results in the word 'I' being used to excess. It has to be. It probably is also a difficult mission to go on. Being honest about oneself - he admits at being a narcissist like all other actors, is much more difficult. Yet, he does just that. After finishing the book I realize why he probably decided to write the book himself. There's money to be made. It is as simple as that. It made me laugh. With the passing of his dad, he was responsible for choosing a casket for the funeral. During the service he whispered in his sister's ear that their dad would have been happy. William got it for a bargain, which had the attendees all snickering away.

I never became a Star Trek-groupie, but I do recall being in love with the dashing captain Kirk. I never got the hots for Spock. He was just there. But captain Kirk was the main attraction, for me at least.

It was a delight to see him again in Third Rock From The Sun, and became a dedicated follower of Boston Legal, simply because he was such a formidable character in the different roles. The latter was a brilliant tv-series. He explains why he worked in just about any media outlet on the planet. While other actors were protecting their images, he was quietly making money in doing adds, game shows, and anything promising a way to feed his three kids and his wife. He has the good taste not to spell out his wealth as frankly as I do, but it is evident from the financial success he later translated into property, horses, and investments. He only mentions some of it in the book and he does it modestly. It was great to experience the movie industry through his eyes.

I did not know that he wrote so many successful books. While listening to his excellent performance in telling his own story on audio, I was thinking how eloquent he was. No wonder he turned out to be a very good author as well.

So yes, I haven't read any other autobiographies of Hollywood inhabitants, and probably won't do it soon again. But this one I really wanted to read. He is a gentleman all the way.

A good experience. Live long and prosper, William Shatner.

Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,144 reviews1,846 followers
October 8, 2014
You know...for years I was indifferent to William Shatner. I laughed at the, over... acting... and... frequent... pause reputation he has. But as the years went by I found he could actually do some, "good stuff". Turned loose on comedy the man could break me up. Often presented as taking himself too seriously he did commercials, guest spots, new series, tried recording (not one of my favorite facets of his career, but there you go...)

I'd say get the audio of this read by Mr. Shatner. You'll get laughs and insights. I enjoyed it. He laughs about "Shatnerisms" but says he doesn't actually hear it in himself. He doesn't argue about it. He says if everyone sees it it must be there.

So another addition to the show-biz bios I've read lately. From Star Trek (which I watched when it was actually on Network TV) to the present you'll hear about his portrayal of the Big Giant Head and all his other parts. He also goes a bit into his personal life if that's your cup of tea...so enjoy.

But be warned. There's one question he doesn't answer...
Profile Image for Sean Peters.
676 reviews120 followers
December 20, 2022
William Shatner gets the joke about William Shatner. In fact, most of the time he's the one telling it. His self-effacing attitude, so perfectly parodied in the bombastic character he now plays on Boston Legal, Denny Crane, is one of the reasons for his huge popularity. While best known for his creation of Captain James T. Kirk, commander of the starship Enterprise on Star Trek, William Shatner has been a working actor for more than half a century. He has experienced all the ups (the awards and acclaim) and the down (having to live for a time in the truck bed of his camper when he couldn't get work) that are a part of the actor's world.

In Up Till Now he tells us about his remarkable life, from training as a Shakespearan actor under Sir Tyrone Guthrie to his time on Broadway, his movie career and, of course, his successful tv series. He has worked with an extraordinary range of actors, among them Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Walter Matthau, Sandra Bullock, Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro. He also writes, with glee, about some of his less successful ventures, including Incubus , the only feature ever made entirely in Esperanto.

As funny, charming and self-deprecating as the man himself, this book will delight his many fans of all ages, but am I a fan, yes I watched Star Trek as a young teenager, am I a Trekkie ... NO

Now 92 years old and a great long career, but did he star in many great films, no, he co-starred in a few good films, but starred in many very bad films, his life explains it, marriages, children meant he had to say YES to everything, every guess roles, which there were many.

To me this book does explain his personality his need to be loved by the public, determined to keep making money. This book is filled with "You can buy the film on my web site"," this album is on my website".

Yes full respect for a long career, yes working with so many great actors, but this book is a full advert for himself, and he is a huge fan of himself.

Many will love this book, okay for me.
Profile Image for Wendy.
397 reviews57 followers
November 21, 2015
It's official: William Shatner is awesome.

Okay, I know the book jumps around sometimes, and once in a while he repeats things--normally, that would really bother me. This time it enhanced the experience of reading the book so much. I felt like he was telling me his story himself; it made the book seem much more casual and intimate. I really, really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Merl Fluin.
Author 6 books45 followers
March 2, 2020
William Shatner has consistently made me happy since I was a little kid, and this book was no exception. It was every bit as exuberant, ridiculous, sentimental and pure batshit crazy as I expected. I salute Mr Shatner for bringing me joy on even the dreariest six-hour train journey. I also salute his co-writer, who must have had a hell of a job getting the essence of Shat onto the page without losing his own marbles in the process.
Profile Image for Yvensong.
880 reviews51 followers
June 22, 2013
This was a very enjoyable read. Shatner's wit showed through this candid look into his life. I, rarely, read biographies and autobiographies. Even more rarely do I enjoy one enough to want to continue reading it. Up Till Now surprised me. I found myself looking forward to the moments I could sit down and read and easily lost myself in his story.
Profile Image for Donna.
3,972 reviews53 followers
June 12, 2016
This book was William Shatner's autobiography. I completely enjoyed this. It made my morning cruise right along. William Shatner is kind of charming in an eccentric great-uncle kind of way. It was a fun read. He was funny in his narcissism. He has had so many varied experiences through out his career. What I enjoyed the most was his humor. He poked fun at others, as well as himself. I also liked the tender way he talked about his family.
Profile Image for Jeanne Thornton.
Author 10 books170 followers
April 30, 2015
This is demented in a glorious way. Lots of stuff about powerful animals, eerie postcoital scenes where women talk about how at last they've taken Captain Kirk to bed while Shatner stares into the darkness in depression and gloom, homophobia and vague sexism as leitmotif, a kind of strange unawareness that other people are real entities who may be harmed by one's actions, plus the best Gene Roddenberry anecdote ("You're just going to have to learn to bow down and say master.") I'm on a rereading Star Trek biographies kick and had never read this one; I um kinda don't know if I will ever reread it--what I like about Star Trek bios is the creepy way you get this parallax view of this one show that's both more terrible and far greater than it gets credit for, the different personalities who go into it, the mundane work beyond the vision. This does not give a ton of insight into that, except into the weird detachment Shatner felt from it, which explains much? (Also, um, Leonard Nimoy's terrible alcoholism.)

Another good thing about reading Star Trek biographies is figuring out what's not being said: George Takei's 1994 "To the Stars," in which his husband figures as a minor character, Nimoy's "copious swigs of honey" in his trailer from "I Am Spock," the marvelously weird Warped Factors. This one is excellent fodder for that because it says shockingly little, and most of that about Shatner's creative process--memorize the words, don't really question impulses you have ever, etc.--but idk when I'll be in the mood for its weird swirl of Good Obliquely Told Stories and bizarre selfpromotion again? (SPOILER: the book legit has commercials in it)

Yet I feel like it's somehow necessary for everyone in America to read this book
Profile Image for Clark Hallman.
371 reviews14 followers
August 30, 2012
William Shatner provided a surprisingly candid and detailed portrait of his life. He reveals his insatiable desire to continuously work as an actor, no matter how strange the parts may be. He freely admits that many of his stage, television, movie, and singing/talking recordings were, not only panned by the critics, but were actually awful. However, he recognizes that even these kept his work in the public eye (and ear) and resulted in other opportunities, some of which turned out to be very well-received and lucrative. He provides very interesting coverage of the Star Trek phenomenon and his relationships with Leonard Nimoy and the other actors, some who were not particularly friendly toward him. Likewise his coverage of his other television series hits, T.J. Hooker, Rescue 911, and Boston Legal is also interesting. In addition to his career, he provides much candid information about his personal life, including his four wives. He interjects many humorous stories and thoughts throughout the book. I believe this book reveals that Shatner is not the characters he has played over the years. However, perhaps his insecurity about the possibility of being unemployed has made him fearless about taking chances with his career, and his persistence and actual talent eventually made him very successful. I found it to be a very enjoyable and interesting look at a very unique person.
Profile Image for John G..
222 reviews15 followers
February 7, 2014
I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did, come away having learned something about the man I didn't know before, and also having learned something about life and living as well. Shatner actually has quite a command of words and language and surprisingly, comedic insight and timing. I'm trying to put together a comedy curriculum/workshop and found a lot that will be useful in this book, see some sharp parallels between acting and comedy. Getting an insider's view of both TV series and movie production was quite fascinating, not areas I examine frequently or know much about. Shatner strikes me a normal, decent guy who has paid his dues and can enjoy his success. He's learned some tough lessons and has hung in there when he felt hopeless, so he understands what it's like to be lost and confused and alone. He has both pride and humility. I think one thing he learned that opened up his life and career, was to poke fun of himself and the world around him, he understood then power of humor to improve life! Very happy I read this book!
Profile Image for Joy H..
1,342 reviews62 followers
April 28, 2014
Added 8/17/09.

April 2014 - I listened to most of this audio book. After a while I tired of it. It was interesting in parts but it seemed disjointed because Shatner likes to go off on tangents and make side-remarks. Many of these are amusing but after a while the book seems to be going in no particular direction. Otherwise, I enjoy Shatner's quirky personality.
292 reviews
July 13, 2015
I did not enjoy this book as much as the two previous ones by William Shatner however it is still an important read. This book adds details or fills in the gaps and also adds his personal life to what we already know.
Profile Image for Kelly.
343 reviews12 followers
June 6, 2021
I always love to read William Shatner's books. They are never dull and always well written. He spends a lot of time talking about his projects in this particular one but also a lot about the wife he lost. Whether you love or hate him, it's a good book.
Profile Image for F.R..
Author 31 books199 followers
August 11, 2009
The satirical magazine ‘Private Eye’ is well known, in its book pages, for slagging off every book it comes near. Letters have appeared asking which books its reviewers actually like. The answer to that question maybe became a bit clearer last year when it actually published two positive reviews – one for Paul O’Grady’s memoirs and one for William Shatner’s. (In fact ‘Private Eye’ is quoted on the back of the UK paperback edition.) So perhaps the answer to the question is autobiographies of men of a certain age, or perhaps the reviewer had just started going soft. Either way letters started arriving asking what the hell was going on with the positive reviews, after all the readers weren’t looking at the book pages for praise.

Having now read one of these books I have to say it’s an odd one to break any tradition of negativity. For a start it doesn’t feel like a proper book that someone has actually written, it’s more like Shatner dictated it to a lackey sat chained to a desk. The rambling nature of it also makes me wonder whether the editor was similarly chained up somewhere. And to be honest I’ve never read any volume that was so assiduous in trying to persuade me to buy items from the author’s website.

However I will say that there are some laugh out loud moments in this book and so I cannot give it a completely negative review. Although if I was well known for given one star to everything I read, i doubt I would break that rule for this particular memoir.
Profile Image for Alexandra .
886 reviews281 followers
March 25, 2010
Für eine Biografie ist das Buch sehr gut. Es strotzt nur so vor Humor und Ironie und sogar ein bisschen ehrliche Selbstkritik ist drinnen.

Was das Buch auch noch inhaltlich spannend macht, ist das Lebensmotto von Shatner kein "Taugenichts" zu sein und fast alle Jobs, die man ihm anbot, als Gelegenheit zu sehen, sich weiterzuentwickeln. Daher gibt es auch Geschichten über seine Ausflüge in die Musik, Werbung, Gameshows und ins Wrestling - was für eine Schauspieler Bio dann doch etwas ungewöhlich ist.

Zwei wesentliche Kritikpunkte am Werk habe ich dann aber doch noch:

Erstens ist der Erzählstil der Bio so aufgebaut, als ob Billy Shatman am Kamin oder Balkon mit dem Drink und der Zigarre in der Hand über sein Leben plaudert. Er sinniert und erzählt und kommt dadurch vom hundersten ins tausendste, was die Chronologie der Ereignisse durcheinanderbringt und er muss sich dann nach einer Zeit wieder zurück auf die ursprüngliche Geschichte besinnen. Manche mögen diesen Stil charmant finden, mich stört er.

Zweitens über die Serie Boston Legal, die Figur des Denny Crane und die dahinterliegenden politischen Anspielungen... wird viel zu kurz berichtet. Ich glaub einfach das Buch ist noch ein paar Jahre zu früh gekommen, denn mit ein bisschen Abstand zu seiner bisher erfolgreichsten Rolle (Emmy)wären da noch einige Gschichteln drinnen gewesen. Und das hätt mich eigentlich auch noch brennend interessiert.
Profile Image for DivaDiane.
973 reviews93 followers
March 6, 2017
I have to admit that I didn't know very much about William Shatner before I read his memoir about Leonard Nimoy (Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man) and then I remembered I had this autobiography, bought shortly after it came out.

There was at least one section which Shatner lifted verbatim into the more recent "Leonard", and the basic chronology was familiar, but of course the focus was much less narrow than just Star Trek and filled in more detail, especially about his more recent life.

I really hadn't realized just how much besides Star Trek he's done. I've seen the episode of Twilight Zone, but nothing else and he's done a lot. And some of it quite successfully. It makes me want to watch TJ Hooker, Boston Legal and Invasion Iowa. He sheds some very interesting light on his motivations for some of the things he's done (basically out of necessity and "it seemed like a good idea at the time").

The audio book, read by Shatner, is probably much better than reading it. Shatner' delivery is conversational and at times hilarious. There was some snorting out loud that happened. I suspect (almost) that the book was written from the transcripts of Shatner shooting the sh*t. And not the other way around. The chapter announcements were great: " Chapter 9! I hope you like it!" And the like, different for each one.

Yes, now we're certain of it; Shatner is full of himself. But he also knows he's full of himself and exploits it to very funny effects.
Profile Image for Lori.
1,440 reviews
October 3, 2014
I would give this a 3.5. I could really "hear" William Shatner's voice in this memoir. It was pretty good for the most part. He was born in Canada and came to the states in his early 20s. he knew for a long time he wanted to be an actor.I guess William Shatner is mostly known for playing "Captain Kirk" in Star Trek. He was good about talking about his experience playing that role for three years in the 1960s. he was also honest that playing Captain Kirk could be both a good thing and difficult as well. Can't blame him really. there are a lot of die hard science fiction fans who still love this show and the movies that came afterwards. if you read this memoir he talked about all the other roles he has played as well. including a famous Twilight Zone episode when his character sees something on the airplane wing trying to destroy the plane and no one believes him{ a great Twilight zone episode inspite of the cheap monster costume} I think mr. Shatner tried to write and honest memoir of his life the good and not so great parts of his life. If you are a fan of William Shatner you may like this memoir.
Profile Image for Red.
506 reviews9 followers
June 18, 2008
So far Shatner tells interesting stories.

I like biographies. I like to learn where people came from and what experiences made them who they are today. And I'm a huge TOS Trek fan, though far more of Spock then Kirk. So I wanted to read Trek stories from the horse's mouth, I wanted to put more flesh on the experiences of those years. That didn't happen nearly as much as I wanted. So don't read the book if all you want is Trek lore, there is some but not in depth. (I guess should have known he had already written his Trek memoir: Star Trek Memories. Going off to add that to my "to read" shelf.)

Shatner has lead a storied life and it was interesting to hear his take on events. He has a varied sense of humor, and apparently hasn't taken himself seriously for decades. He covers his entire life, in a very nonlinear way. Sometimes in more depth than you care about, but more often glazing over areas where I'd wish he'd stopped and reminisced for a while.

I enjoyed hearing about his life, it has increased my respect and affection for him.
Profile Image for Wendy Dranfield.
Author 15 books403 followers
July 15, 2019
I found this book hugely entertaining. I grew up in a household of Trekkies so by default I've seen every single episode of every single series (and every single movie), but I didn't know anything about Shatner. I bought this book for my brother but he already had a copy so I read it myself.

It's written in an engaging way and it feels as though you're sat across from Shatner, listening to him chat. He's got a great sense of humour with some real laughable antics, but it was the fascinating behind-the-scene facts about working in TV, theatre and film from the sixties onwards that held my attention. Shatner has been in just about every single TV show ever made!

The photos from his own collection are great too. The insight into the death of his third wife was very touching, he clearly lost the love of his life that night.

The only negative about this book is that it's slightly too long, so my interest was waning towards the end, but I'm glad I read it. I wouldn't say you need to be a Trekkie or a Shatner fan to enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Kandice.
1,561 reviews247 followers
October 11, 2019
Shatner is my man. I have loved him since his Star Trek days and he continues to entertain no matter how old he gets. Listening to these biographies is a sobering experience because I always want to believe he is wonderful, but by his own admission, he can be an ass. An ass who can admit it and make fun of himself, though, so that's ok.

Every time I read or listen to one of his books about himself I think I'll read his Tek series and then I somehow never get around to it. Maybe this time.
Profile Image for Nathan.
595 reviews9 followers
February 7, 2017
William Shatner tells us his life story.

Fairly straight narrative structure with frequent digressions into non-chronological but related anecdote. He covers up some warts, but mostly lets it all out. He may be embarrassed by some of the things he has done, but regrets nothing. Many amusing stories here.

I listened to this as a Shatner-read audiobook, and I think this added considerably to my enjoyment of it. The man is certainly a showman.

Rated PG. Some adult references. 3.5/5
Profile Image for Deb.
94 reviews
May 12, 2013
What fun! I loved Captain Kirk, and then came to really appreciate Shatner on Boston Legal. I listened to Shatner read this book on CD. It was as if I was sitting on the deck listening to Shatner telling stories to James Spader as they both smoked cigars and drank their whiskey (or whatever they drank). Pure candy.
Profile Image for Leah.
196 reviews35 followers
June 13, 2019
I couldn't get through the first chapter. He has a very disjointed train of thought that I couldn't follow. He is a very interesting guy and I wish I could read it but I can't.
979 reviews50 followers
July 15, 2018
I read this book in 2008 and again in 2018--both times found it to be one of the best-written memoirs ever by an entertainment personality. This book is a great way for Shatner to avoid opening up too much while taking readers on an entertaining journey through his life. Even those who don't rate as Shatner fans will love the inside-Hollywood stories. But be warned--you never know if what he's telling you is true!

I am not a Star Trek fan and have seen Shatner in only few things. I know his reputation is that of pompous, arrogant jerk who takes himself way too seriously. But being interested in the entertainment business I gave him a chance and I'm glad I did. From the start Shatner and his co-author write in a hilarious style that in the middle of a chapter he will suddenly pause in the middle of a story to do a commercial for his website or a movie he wants you to rent. At first it's a little odd, but then you realize that this is pure Shatner humor. He doesn't want to just write another tell-all book; he wants to entertain you in an offbeat way.

Everything about the book is humorous, even his serious stories. He refuses to reveal too much about himself or his family or his emotions (with the exception of his heartbreaking story about his wife's death in the swimming and his defense of not being the killer), but he lets the reader in on just enough to catch glimpses the public has never seen before. His ego is on every page, but it's mixed with a self-deprecation that is appealing.

The only caution is that he is an admitted fabricator and it's difficult to know when he's just pulling your leg. At one point he even has to write, "That's the true story of how I made up a story."

And his final sentence about never telling if he wears a hairpiece is hilarious after wondering the whole book if he'll mention it!

In the end it doesn't make much difference whether what he tells you is the complete, accurate story. His point is to make you laugh and to mock the traditional autobiography. By that measure the book is a complete success. And worth reading every few years to realize what a great career this guy had.
Profile Image for Don.
71 reviews
August 8, 2015

This one was a hard one to review. Let me give it a shot ...

The Shatman appears in a long overdue autobiopic of his acting career to now, alternating between self-deprecating humor ("That's what actors do.") to explain the get in there and get the job done mentality, and Man of La Mancha idealism with deadpan seriousness (I'm the very best at what I do, or something similar.). Actually I sort of liked the apoliticism caused by his being a resident alien (not sure if that is the right term or not for a Canadian emigrant), but he has a strong sense of it not being his place to criticize American life, but it is harder still to appreciate the absolute sacrifices that Bill has had to endure to get his face in front of a camera on a regular basis since he started out long ago in Shakespearian drama at Stratford. This includes shortage of monetary funds while raising a family, bad marriages because he simply didn't have the time or know-how to do it right, and being forced to live in a camper after one of his divorces. He also admits to such things as being tech illiterate. All of these admissions contribute to his final conclusions at the end where he states that life is a big mystery, and it would be wrong to pretend to understand it all for the sake of a good read for others to benefit from his own mistakes, or some such invented morale. The real danger, of course, is to treat autobiography itself as an excuse for an exercise in venting or making up wonderful things about oneself that simply aren't true. Bill carefully avoids these pratfalls that others artistic tempers have not been so fortunate or humble enough to do as well. However, in the process, we do lose a little of the magic that he professes to create so splendidly in his often quirky roles. Best to call this comedy, although it is not always a hard drawn line. I choose not to look at the book as a disguised ego-trip, but rather as an apology. Bill is being sincere. At this point I'm tempted to put words into his mouth to express this distinction:

I'm so sorry for letting you down, that my own life is not half as exciting as the me you have seen on the wide screen, on televisions, and on stages. You'll have to accept me as is, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Those would be my own words and not Bill's. Bill is much more gentle and caring in his choice of words. Going on, I could invent more words as a script for Bill to speak and act out, such as:

And yet, I do care deeply about each and everyone of you that I have touched in my lifetime, and hope to touch again.

That's the spirit I get while reading the narrative from one episode to the next, which are expertly divided into chapters that flow into each other, a wonderful editing job as well.

John Lennon said it much better than I in the lyrics of a song, "We all shine on, like the moon, the sun, and the stars. You're a superstar, right you are." (Instant Karma)

Before we turn Bill into some interstellar light sent from another world, we should try to see the goodness in ourselves first. Some of the things that Bill was able to accomplish are also possible for ourselves to achieve if we had the drive and the motivation to do so. Guys like Bill inspire us to push ahead in pursuing our dreams to make them into reality. And God bless him for it!

Initial response to the book:

I enjoyed reading this story by one of the most celebrated 'documented aliens' who has ever waged a highly successful acting career on television, stage and movies. Bill's reinterations here of what he does as "That's what actors do", to explain what makes himself different from ordinary folks, should be put right up there with that's what politicians do, as a slogan for the times, although Bill himself practices a form of apoliticism himself.

A lot of light was shed on different things about Bill's life, but little about what makes America tick in general. Bill's stance seems to be as a resident alien, the best as I could make out, as both an acute observer of the art of diplomacy and the consummate deal maker. He has very little to say about things that matter, and which most other writers would never let us forget about, say gay rights, women in the workforce, civil rights, etc. He lets his feelings be known about these subjects as personal anecdotes, but not as a spokesman for a cause. His account of his own stardom status and private escapades are both humorous and entertaining throughout the telling, and a little bit embarrassing for him as well. Further insights into his animal-loving, charity work extraordinaire, humanatarian principles and attempts at being a good husband to his wives have much to like in them as well, but I was mystified by it all, and chuckled through most of it, despite my misgivings about reading a tell-all autobiography, as the title seemed to imply, that somewhat fails to take itself entirely serious. Bill just wanted to hear himself speak out loud apparently, and that of course is all right with me. I like honesty far more than false platitudes.

Rescue 911 and game shows are some of my favorite moments in his career highlights. Star Trek anecdotes are mildly interesting as hindsight despite the distance from its popularity (Other books by Shatner probably do a better job of scoping out this territory.). Most of the rest of the stuff I found boring and the humor stretched to the breaking point. All said, I couldn't put it down for an instant, and I would definitely read a book by these authors again. Bravo, Bill, for keeping it real and not taking oneself so seriously as to make us feel inferior subjects in comparison. A man for and of the people is greatly appreciated! I'm just not sure what people he represents (a small criticism amidst a great love for the Shatman and his acting abilities honed to a great degree!)
Profile Image for Scott.
1,185 reviews106 followers
June 13, 2022
I am obsessed with polymaths and although I would not consider Shatner a polymath by any stretch of the imagination, he does things that strike my admiration like polymaths do (mastery over different arenas - he does a little bit of everything, tries everything, soaks the most out of life at every turn).

The autobiography is written like Shatner would read it - it bounces all over the place in whatever fashion suits him at the time. We get to visit every area of this life and every section of his career but not in any logical way and most of the time not in a satisfactory way but like most things Shatner, it's hard not stay riveted to the journey.

When thinking of this book it was hard to put a finger on why I didn't love it more except that I expected more. More insight. More depth. More stories. He has had such an amazing life and I know it's all there to make one of the greatest books ever....I however....was just left wanting more.

Glad I read it but for recommendations I could probably come up with better ones.
Profile Image for Paul.
31 reviews1 follower
October 16, 2021
I loved this, not the usual 99% growing up and then I became famous. Although Mr Shatner had a long struggle before becoming the living legend he is now the stories are entertaining and involve a lot of famous names while he was a struggling actor.
He is honest about his marriage break ups and a heartfelt section about the loss of his second wife.
An entertaining, funny autobiography one of the best I have read. Also timely as he has now become the oldest person to go boldly into space.
Profile Image for Kris.
3,055 reviews69 followers
July 21, 2017
Oh, Shatner, you arrogant ass, I love you. This book is uneven and jumpy and sporadic and funny and self-deprecating and oblivious. It is Shatner. I chuckled and sighed and rolled my eyes. But I enjoyed it. Nowhere near perfect, but Shatner.
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