Even if you know him from Twilight Zone, T.J. Hooker, Boston Legal or one of over 100 different roles, most people still recognize William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk from Star Trek. It’s a role he originated in the 1966 original TV series and returned to for an animated series and seven films. On top of that the Montreal native has written several books and recorded albums. He hosted awards shows and of course taken part in speaking engagements across the globe. This weekend he’s at Fan Expo Canada at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. On Friday he spoke to an enthusiastic group of fans about his life.
It’s pretty common knowledge that Shatner attended McGill University in their economics program. But what isn’t as commonly known is what he did after he graduated with a Bachelors of Commerce in 1952. He moved to Toronto for a few years . Even though he had a new degree, he knew he didn’t want to work in business. Instead, he wanted to try his hand at acting. Talking to the crowd, Shatner said he led a fairly sheltered life in Montreal while going to McGill. And that he didn’t really grow up until he moved to Toronto.
Shatner lived in a cheap apartment on Jarvis street, where the bugs would party when he went out. He didn’t have much in the way of money then either, and spent a lot of time at a local restaurant where they served cheap meals. As he recollected his life at that time he told the crowd he couldn’t remember if the meals were any good, but he could remember they were $2. He also remembered that he made some new friends there.
When Shatner started talking about the unique friends he made in Toronto, you could tell he was thinking fondly about them. He focused on one woman in particular, an intelligent woman he called a good friend. Hee didn’t find out until later on was a lady of the night. When he did realize it, he said her profession didn’t bother him. That is until after he fell deeply in love with a woman he intended to marry.
One day, a couple of years later Shatner was out with the parents of his fiancée when he saw his former friend walking the streets in full lady of the night attire. He didn’t know what to do, or say, and he wasn’t sure how his future in-laws would take the news that this woman was a friend of his. He didn’t have to worry however, as his friend looked at him, acknowledged him, and moved on without saying a word.
There are stories you may have heard about Shatner in the past. But at Fan Expo he came off as being very humble and enjoyed talking with his fans. He moved his chair on the stage over slightly so everyone could see him instead of a column that was partially blocking him. He politely told a photographer that he needed to move out of the way. While was humbler than expected, his legendary wit and sharp tongue were on display though. He told one fan who asked him what kind of cake he would be that her question was stupid. And he quickly told another couple who asked him to marry them to sit down after telling them fine, they’re married.
Perhaps Shatner’s calmer demeanor has something to do with aging, after all he did turn 91 back in March, but don’t tell him it’s wisdom. After all, he told the audience he doesn’t believe that wisdom comes with age. In fact he said he didn’t feel any wiser at all. Still, even though he refuses to call it wisdom, Shatner was clearly showcasing some of his. When talking about his trip into space with Jeff Bezos on his craft Blue Origin he said he cried afterwards because he was in mourning. He said the interconnectiveness of everything, including our connection to the planet became very obvious to him. And he was sad because we are destroying it more every day. He said we’ve got to be better.
When you meet one of your idols you never quite know what you can expect, but William Shatner doesn’t disappoint. He spent 70 years of playing on TV sets and movie screens around the world. It’s obvious that he’s learned that fans can make all the difference in a career. And he knows how to treat them right.