Library Computer: Star Trek Star Autobiographies

William Shatner’s new autobiography "Up Till Now" is actually the last of the autobiographies of the actors from the original Star Trek. So how does it compare? In this Library Computer, we take a look at all the autobiographies from the various TOS actors?


Rating the TOS Autobiographies provides you an exclusive guide to the TOS autobiographies. Each entry below is followed by three ratings.

  • "GBI" is the Generic Biographical Interest rating which is how interesting is the book’s discussion of the actor’s pre and non Trek experiences (on a scale of 1-5.
  • "STI" is the Star Trek Interest rating which is how "fascinating" is their discussion of their TOS days (on a scale of 1-5) . 
  • "CR" is the combined number for the book.

Leonard Nimoy — "I Am Not Spock" (1975) & "I Am Spock" (1995)
Gee, what a difference twenty years makes. 1975’s "I Am Not Spock" was a badly named book, because far from distancing himself from Spock, the book is actually about how much of Leonard Nimoy is Spock, and vice versa. It is a celebration of Spock, not a disparagement. Yet, as Nimoy tells it, the publisher really wanted this negative title, and so, the legend was that Nimoy hated the Spock character, at least for those who never actually read the book! " I Am Not Spock" is excellent, especially impressive in Nimoy’s thoughtfulness about acting. Nimoy tells good stories with real morals and challenging ideas. The 1995" I Am Spock" is a perfect sequel, focusing more on the feature film era. Nimoy "is" Star Trek, at least equally, or perhaps more so, than William Shatner. Therefore, his stories are very intimate accounts of his experiences. The poetry of Nimoy is shown in his books. Both books utilize the convention of Spock sometimes commenting on Nimoy’s observations, which is a delight.

GBI: 4 / STI: 5 / CR: 9 out of 10 (both)

"I am not Spock" and "I am Spock" available at Amazon

George Takei — "To the Stars" (1994)
George Takei was ironically an enigma to fans before 1994, ironic because he is one of the friendliest and most enthusiastic of the Star Trek actors. Yet, many fans never knew about George Takei’s offscreen experiences, before and after Star Trek. "To The Stars "shares a great deal of the personal side of George Takei, and the most fascinating section is his discussion of his internment during World War II in the United States. The actions of the U.S. government towards Japanese Americans is one of those moments in history that is easier to forget than to remember for the generic population because of its shame, and not much was taught or talked about until the 1990s. Takei’s book is actually an important contribution to that discussion, showing how the internment affected his family. For this alone, this is a worthy read. However, Takei also discusses his experiences in politics, making other films, and of course Star Trek. His Star Trek section is much less interesting than his pre-Star Trek experiences. There is, also, a tinge of whining to his Star Trek memories, especially regarding William Shatner. That being said, like Takei personally, there is an enthusiasm and likeability to the book.

GBI: 5  / STI: 2 / CR: 7 out of 10

"To the Stars" available at Amazon

Nichelle Nichols — "Beyond Uhura" (1994)
Singing and dancing were Nichelle Nichols main claim to fame before acting in Star Trek. Her career is truly remarkable, singing with the likes of Duke Ellington. Her book "Beyond Uhura "discusses her experiences on the road, her family, her romances (one of which was with Gene Roddenberry), and her friends. Like Takei’s text, Nichols pre-Star Trek life is incredibly interesting, especially her experiences with racism. This is a good book for those who wish to learn what it was like for a young entertainer during days of intolerance, and hearing these stories make us appreciate the positive message of Star Trek. Also fascinating is Nichols good work with NASA, recruiting minorities and women into the program. The Star Trek content does not disappoint either, with her discussions of each of films and many of the episodes. Her contributions to the animated show are amazing, from voicing many of the female characters showing her vocal talents, to really showing various sides of Uhura in episodes such as "The Lorelei Signal" where Uhura is Captain of the Enterprise.

GBI: 4  / STI: 4 / CR: 8 out of 10

"Beyond Uhura" available at Amazon

James Doohan — "Beam Me Up, Scotty" (1996)
James Doohan was a hero. Not Scotty. James Doohan. This book is a must read for those who would like to learn of the amazing war experiences of Doohan who, like Roddenberry, performed real acts of sacrifice and bravery during their lives (Roddenberry saved survivors of a plane crash while a civilian pilot). Doohan was at D-Day, losing his finger and suffering many more wounds during his service. He was also an incredibly busy Canadian, then Hollywood, actor before Star Trek. The pre-Star Trek discussion is amazing. However, there are real problems with the Star Trek sections of the text. They are often glossed over and it is mostly Doohan’s personal opinions that the book offers, not really interesting facts or information. His dislike of Shatner is very obvious in the book, with probably the only real compliment about Shatner being that his acting as Kirk was okay. Yet, learning about Doohan makes the reader miss him even more, both for his fan friendly demeanor and his real contributions to freedom.

GBI: 5  / STI: 2 / CR: 7 out of 10

"Beam Me Up, Scotty" available at Amazon

Walter Koenig — "Warped Factors" (1998)
Prepare for an interesting self psychological evaluation of Walter Koenig with his book "Warped Factor". Koenig’s academic training in psychology is evident in Koenig’s sometimes acerbic and sometimes funny autobiography.  Koenig’s pre-Star Trek life lacks much of the drama of the experiences of James Doohan (a war hero), George Takei (a survivor of U.S. Japanese American concentration camps), or Nichelle Nichols (touring with legendary musicians). However, of all the biographies, Koenig is probably the most balanced and honest, especially in regards to Star Trek. Unlike some of the other supporting actors, Koenig is more realistic about his place in the pantheon of Star Trek. Any disappointment he has is not because he thinks of himself as the main star of the show, yet he does wish for slightly larger contributions to films such as "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country". He writes about how the making of that film was a personal misery, while for most other actors it was a wonderful experience, mostly because of his own state of mind. He is the most diplomatic towards William Shatner of the "fabulous four" biographies, criticizing him, yet also trying to practice some understanding of his fellow actor. Most interesting for Trekkies is his memos to Harve Bennett about "Star Trek II" (he was asked to do a "Trekkie" fact check of the script) and to the producers of "Star Trek VI" (where he offered to have Chekov be sacrificed to give the story more meaning). Reading about the Star Trek convention which was really a "con" (meaning it was run by a "con" artist) is worth the price of the book.

GBI: 2  / STI: 5 / CR: 7 out of 10

"Warped Factors" available at Amazon

Grace Lee Whitney — "The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy" (1998)
This could be a very depressing book. Much of Whitney’s experiences have been tragedies, from substance abuse to divorce. Yet somehow, like Rand, Whitney keeps the book positive, showing how one could learn from these kinds of mistakes. Her Star Trek section is excellent, especially considering her character was in only a few episodes and films. Rand, though, was supposed to be, besides Kirk and Spock, the most important character on the show (a role that eventually would go to DeForest Kelley). As such, Whitney was very involved at the early stages of Star Trek and its formation. Her stories are interesting, and sometimes heartbreaking as when she describes being asked to not to return for Star Trek. Her early life is somewhat reminiscent of Nichols with singing and touring as the theme, yet the Star Trek section is really the best of the text.

GBI: 2  / STI: 5 / CR: 7 out of 10

"The Longest Trek" available at Amazon

DeForest Kelley — "A Harvest of Memories" (by Kristine M. Smith 2001) & "From Sawdust to Stardust: DeForest Kelley" (by Terry Lee Rioux 2005)
DeForest Kelley never wrote his autobiography. Yet, these two books are written by people who were close friends with both DeForest and Carolyn Kelley, and each is an authorized text on the life of the actor who portrayed Dr. Leonard McCoy. Smith’s book reads like one written by a daughter about her parents, and in many ways, that is what Kris Smith was symbolically to the Kelleys. It is a very personal book, and it is heartbreaking when reading about how illness affected Kelley. Terry Lee Rioux book is more like a traditional biography, yet both books are excellent. There is much about Star Trek in both, with good details about DeForest Kelley’s McCoy and behind the scenes information. Both are very recommended if you wish to know more about this gentle actor who was a perfect neighbor and husband.

GBI: 5 / STI: 4 / CR: 9 out of 10 (both)

"A Harvest of Memories" and "From Sawdust to Stardust" available at Amazon

Tip: If you can – get the audio versions
A tip for those thinking of getting these books, some of the texts have an audio book counterpart read by the actor. These are quite enjoyable, as the audio books are almost like interviews about their own experiences. All of the audio books are great, especially Nichols and Takei, both of whom have melodic voices and really are very good narrators.

Where are the TNG, DS9, VOY, & ENT actor autobios?
If you are wondering if we left out autobiographies from stars of the four Trek spin-off series that followed TOS, we didn’t. There just aren’t any. The closest would be Wil Wheaton’s 2004 book "Just a Geek," which is excellent, but more of a collection of essays rather than a real biography. Like Shatner and Nimoy there is also an unauthorized (and rather unflattering) biography of Patrick Stewart ("Patrick Stewart: The Unauthorized Biography" from 1996). There is also a omnibus bio by Adam Shrager and David Gerrold called "The Finest Crew in the Fleet" which covers the entire TNG crew and some big guest stars. It is recommended, but each bio is brief. It would better to get their full stories and in their own words, so isn’t it about time Kate, Jeri, Patrick and Avery?

"Just a Geek" and "Finest Crew in the Fleet" available at Amazon

Related TrekMovie stories: Shatner’s memoirs
Review "Up Till Now" Autobiography
"Up Till Now" Preview + Overview of previous Shatner Trek memoirs


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I was just thinking about reading some or all of these. How wild.

I suspect Avery Brooks’ autobio would be an interesting read.

I hadn’t realized so many cast members had written books.

I can see how it would have been interesting to use Rand as the emotional leg of the Big 3 Triad. Still, happy the De got the nod to take McCoy there.
One day, when I win the lottery (oh, that would be tonight of course) I’ll catch up on these fun and informative books.

I found these two little jems on you tube,,

McCoy Responds to William Shatner Singing Rocket Man


Mr Shatner on Mork and Mindy

Its sad to know that DeForest Kelley never wrote his autobiography,hes a great guy, his life in his own words would of been interesting.

I’ve read both Nimoy’s books, Takei’s book (during the reading of which I began to wonder if he was gay), Doohan’s book, and Whitney’s book. They’re all good in their way, but the one I found most interesting and enjoyable — despite some really tragic threads running through it — was Grace Lee Whitney’s. I recommend it, and I wish her well.

Confession time: I went to a book signing when Nichelle Nichols’ book came out. I met her and she autographed my copy of her book … but I haven’t read it yet! What a beautiful, gracious lady, though.

Scott B. out.

I have been waiting a long time for TNG, VOY and DS9 autobiographies. Where are they? Why hasn’t Pocket Books or Harper Collins or somebody hit these folks up for their stories??

I loved To the Stars. Admittedly, it’s the only one of these that I read but you could tell that it was quite well written. Because the book was largely an informative yet introductory look into Japanese-American history it sometimes read like something for middle school students. I think that worked in the book’s favor as it made it accessible to the most people. It’s also clear in hearing him speak and reading his thoughts that he didn’t need a ghost writer as some of the other ones did.

I read it about a year ago and reviewed it on my blog here:

As I’ve said there and here it seems like Takei’s life has been very busy since then, so I’d love to see a sequel some day.

The Doohan, Nichols, Nimoy, and Koenig books look the most interesting to me. I’ll try to check those out when I can.

Why aren’t the TNG/DS9/etc gang doing their autobiographies? Give them a few years. The big wave of TOS autobiographies arrived roughly 30 years after TOS began. Many of the actors from the other shows are younger now than the TOS gang was then, and they no doubt believe they have more of a career left to them than some of the TOS gang did. There’s also the fact that the big autobio wave came when Star Trek was at its peak of popularity, in the mid-90s. That degree of interest just doesn’t exist now, and many of the modern series cast members are simply not as well known as the TOS gang.

I read both of Nimoy’s books and Deforest Kelley’s biography “From Sawdust to Stardust.” I highly recommend all three.

What about Shatner’s autobiographies?

I have all of the original cast ones. I spent the last three years of my twenties teaching in a small west Texas town. What was I doing during this time? Well, most of these seemed to all come out about that time and were good company for me.

I love all Shatner’s various, early autobiographies, but I found Nimoy’s to be particularly interesting. Very thoughtful. I used his little trick of eating a spoon full of honey for energy between takes during a long school day.

I was surprised at what such a well ordered mind and well spoken person Keonig was.

Doohan’s had some interesting stuff…his war years and early acting stints and all. I remember him on that episode of Hazel.

Gotta admit I found Takei’s to be so devoid of any personal life references (I’m not talking internment camp and all that – I’m talking inner life stuff) that I think I figured out then that something was up. I almost wish he gone on and talked about it then. Would have made for a more interesting book.

I read all the books as they came out and found them all very interesting and enjoyable. Highly recommend them. The audiotapes are great too.

Re # 11. Miles R. Seppelt – June 6, 2008,,,

I guess theres too many to list here !


Hey Andy – having grown up in a small west Texas town, I’m curious which town you tought in.

Back on topic, does anyone have stats on the sales of the books reviewed here?

Makes me want to go out and read them all! :)


Monahans. 40 miles west of Odessa. Oil country. You actually see oil derricks pumping on either side of Interstate 20 right off the road between the two towns. Great people.

#12—“I spent the last three years of my twenties teaching in a small west Texas town.”

What town was that? I ask because I lived from 1980-1994 in Odessa.

“…I found Nimoy’s to be particularly interesting. Very thoughtful.”

I also enjoyed Nimoy’s books, and was certainly more prone to picking those up since “Spock” was the character I found most interesting. I haven’t read any of the others, but I’ll admit the review here has peaked my interest a bit. I actually had no idea that Grace Lee Whitney had written one, and Tenuto’s characterization of Koenig’s book as the most “balanced” of all the TOS actors’ autobiographies has me somewhat curious.

#16—Seems there are a few of us here today!

#18—“Monahans. 40 miles west of Odessa.”

Ah, the “Sandhills” and the Lobos…I can smell the dust, the tumbleweeds, and the football fields.

I want Patrick Stewart’s bio. I wish he would hurry up and write one. The unauthorized one is terrible and all the info came directly from magazine interviews.

yay for books!

As a group, all the books have something for fans of Star Trek. Walter Koenig’s book is a standout for it’s honesty and the two books on DeForest Kelley really make you miss the man. All in all, great reads for those of us who grew up with these actors.

John —

Thank you for another excellent article!!

I’ve been meaning to check these out. (Are you a Betazoid?) Now I have more info to go on. (Great talent at


This was a really nice feature article, John! Was it just you who read all the books, or did you get input from other reviewers on some of them?

i can answer that…it was all john. In addition to being a tenured professor of sociology, John is also a ‘Shatnologist’ and a ‘Treknologist’. He has read pretty much every single non-fiction Trek book, including all the behind the scenes books and all the autobiographies and memoirs.

So in addition to being the man for all Collectible news here at TrekMovie, John is our resident historian and (along with Senator Vreenak) all around resident expert.

4. Sorry, I’M planning on winning the lottery tonight. But I’ll buy the books for you when I do.

Thank you John for the excellent article on all the biographies.

I had no idea that Grace Lee Whitney had an autobiography, and I am even more surprised to hear that she was supposed to have a much bigger role on TOS.

It seems like the only cast member missing from the article and list of books is nurse chapel, Majel Barrett Roddenberry. I would definitely be interested in reading about her life experiences. Is there an existing autobiography on her or is there one in the works?

Perhaps I’ll ask her when I see her in Vegas at the annual Trek con.

20 “Ah, the “Sandhills” and the Lobos…I can smell the dust, the tumbleweeds, and the football fields.”

You know it’s odd….I guess that just shows how stubborn I am….the whole time I was there I deliberately never visited the sandhills- Monahans’ one tourist attraction/clame to fame…whatever you want to call it. I was so intent on not living out my life there that that was one act of defiance that I practiced with myself. Again, good people, traditions, nice folk, …all that. And I learned a lot those years in my career but not exactly a place a young, single guy in his 20’s wants to live his life.

#16—Seems there are a few of us here today!

Yes,is odd. If anyone on these boards only knew how barren, remote and desolate that area is. A lonely area. The chances of meeting up with several people who even know where it is….what would Spock say? ….”Astronomical”.


And Closettrekker seeing your dates in Odessa I guess “Friday Night Lights” hits pretty close to home for you. Though I have to admit I’ve never been able to et into that show.

#30–Not to turn this in to a chat room, but yes it does hit home (the book much more than the movie or its spinoff series). I graduated from Odessa Permian, and I knew those people in Bissinger’s book. It was less than flattering, but does give some insight into the passion West Texans have for high school football. I now live in Houston, and still miss the sounds and sights of Friday night in Odessa…

Thanks for all the nice comments! We have an article planned that will discuss the making of books and biographies of the actors. Usually, Robert Lyons is the author of these columns. It was fun to write a Library Computer article.

Very nice synopsis of these. You actually have the story about “I Am Not Spock” backwards, though – the publisher warned Nimoy that books with negative titles tend to not sell as well, but HE insisted on it (even pointing out that “Gone With the Wind” was a negative title and that didn’t seem to hurt that book any).

I don’t think he anticipated the backlash from people who would misinterpret the title and not bother to read the book.

Odo: An Insiders Guide……

The De Kelly biography by Terry Lee Rioux is – UNREADABLE-

Terrible, just a real mess. It’s like a teenage girl writing about her adult boyfriend. Really a shame that there is not a good Bio on such a huge player in the Star Trek world.


Andy – I know Monahans. I’m grew up further east on I20. Big Spring.

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