7 New Things We Learned From William Shatner’s Revealing Memoir ‘Live Long and…’

On September 4, a new book will hit stores by none other than William Shatner, the original Captain James T. Kirk, called Live Long and… What I Might Have Learned Along the Way. We have a full review coming next week, full of rich Shatner wisdom, of which there is plenty. In the meantime, we are whetting your appetite for the book with a round-up of new Shatner facts we didn’t know before.

That’s saying a lot, given that he’s already written several memoirs and given hundreds, if not thousands, of interviews. But as any fan knows, even at 87, he’s not a man to be underestimated. (See our recent articles on his Star Trek II live screening tourhis new Christmas album, or his country album, for example.)

So here we go: 7 New Things We Learned About William Shatner, thanks to his book Live Long and… What I Might Have Learned Along The Way.

He did magic mushrooms in Amsterdam

And no, this wasn’t as a teenager. Shatner is honest about his experience with drugs and freely admits to having “had some good moments with marijuana” although he hasn’t smoked it in years. He vividly tells the story of a trip to Amsterdam with his wife Liz. They were in one of the city’s famous coffee shops and were offered magic mushrooms:

How could I say no? Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I remember reading that Alice in Wonderland was actually the description of a psychedelic trip. Well, I always loved Alice in Wonderland and if were possible to visit Wonderland that appealed to me.

You’ll have to read his book to see what happens, but for now, I’ll tell you that despite eating the same batch of mushrooms, he and his wife had very, very different experiences.

He felt unwelcome at Leonard Nimoy’s funeral

Most of us remember the talk that went around at the time. Leonard Nimoy passed away due to complications from COPD on February 27, 2015. Shatner’s daughters went to the funeral in his place, but he had a commitment that same day to appear at a major fundraiser for the Red Cross. That was the reason he gave, and it was the truth, but it wasn’t quite that simple. “It was made clear to me that I was not welcome at his funeral. That was painful. I had an easy excuse.”

He attended the fundraiser, but still looks back in confusion at how his great friendship with Nimoy ended.

My closest friend was Leonard Nimoy. We were born four days apart and raised in Orthodox Jewish homes. We shared so much throughout our careers. I loved Leonard, and he used to refer to me as his brother. Yet at the end of his life and for reasons I still don’t know, he was not my friend. I would call him and he wouldn’t answer the phone or return any messages. He died and I didn’t feel welcome at his funeral.

He took a lot of flack for not attending, and never revealed at the time the real reason he didn’t go.

He’s not the guy to go to for financial advice

Shatner repeatedly reminds his readers that he’s experienced all the financial highs and lows you can imagine, from living in his truck (the summer after Star Trek was canceled, when he says “I couldn’t cash a $15 check”) to owning a beautiful house, providing for his family, and being able to buy the “man toys” he likes. But he insists that he’s not the guy you want to ask for financial advice.

Once, on fellow Canadian actor Lorne Greene’s advice, he bought uranium stock – the day before Canada’s prime minister announced that Canada would no longer mine it. And if you think he got rich from Priceline, he’s got a story for you. “It was an interesting learning experience,” he summed up, after giving the details, “and the next time I’m worth several hundred million dollars on paper I won’t make the same mistake.”

The opening night of his one-man show on Broadway was the stuff of every actor’s nightmare

In March of 2012, Shatner realized a dream he’d had for 50 years: he was doing a one-man show on Broadway called Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It … , which was followed by a national tour and a film. The night before his Broadway premiere, he got food poisoning. He managed to forget about it as he started the show, but it hit him hard while he was still onstage, and unbeknownst to the audience and the critics in attendance, “about halfway through the show, I crapped in my pants.” He remembers it vividly.

I remember standing onstage thinking, Someday I will tell this story from a historical point of view and people will laugh at my embarrassment. It will make a wonderful story—but not tonight.

For the record, the show was a hit, and the critics loved it.

His biggest regret is that he hunted for sport

Most fans know how much Shatner reveres dogs and horses, but earlier in his life, he didn’t view other animals the way he does now.

My greatest regret is that I once was a hunter and I killed beautiful animals. I don’t know how I could have done that; I can’t relate to the mind-set necessary to set out to kill a living animal because it makes you feel powerful or successful. It chills me inside when I think about the pain I inflicted.

He admits that directing Star Trek V was not the best choice he could have made

He talks about his original story idea, with which many Trek fans are already familiar, and says that Gene Roddenberry thought it was objectionable, so they compromised. “I had a choice,” he writes. “I could accept the compromise or refuse to direct the movie. I made a mistake; I accepted the compromise, which doomed the picture from the beginning.”

He uses the experience to talk about how we change as people, and how his decision was “consistent with who I was at the time.”

He once did a stand-up comedy act AS Captain Kirk

It was not successful.

William Shatner: Live Long and ... What I Learned Along the Way

Available next week

William Shatner’s Live Long and… What I Might Have Learned Along The Way is full of warmth, laughter, wisdom, stories new and old, occasional insights, and Shatner, in all his glory. And his advice is good, even as he’s telling you that his path might not be the same as yours.

I am not advocating that you try parasailing or dancing on glaciers or climbing mountains. I’m certainly not suggesting you drive halfway across the country in a snowstorm or try psychedelic drugs. What I am suggesting is that once in a while you take yourself out of your comfort zone.

Pre-order your copy at Amazon, and look for our full review next week. The book comes out on September 4 in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook (narrated by William Shatner).

Listen to an excerpt:

newest oldest
Corylea

People love to make fun of Shatner, but I have this to say for the guy: He’s not bland! ;-)

Or funny.

BorgKlingon

George, is that you?

Denny C

“Shatner’s World” was a lot of fun and entertaining from start to finish.

Legate Damar

We only make fun of him because we love him.

DataMat

Shatner is a man who has been there, done that. I envy him a lot and wish I had his energy and drive in life.

Gary 8.5

Indeed.
Shatters life is easily enviable.

Imagine still clinging to Star Trek 25 years after you were last in it.

Gary 8.5

Imagine still writing about your life because you think that some people are still interested in what you have to say.

Denny C

And Gary 8.5 is our hero of the day. Well played, sir.

Luke Montgomery

Um, some people are still interested in what he has to say… hence him being a New York Times bestselling author. What is it you do and have done with your life? Ah, yes. You write on the Internet in the comments section of a news blog under the assumption that people might have ever been interested in what you have to say. To call you a nobody’s nothing would be rude, much like your small comment, so I’ll refrain.

Anthony Thompson

@Luke – Don’t be a hater, son.

Cervantes

@ David Oakes – considering it’s the work he’s most associated with around the world by many, many fans, I don’t find it too difficult to imagine he still has a fondness for the franchise and his part in it.

And does your view hold for the likes of Patrick Stewart too in that case? Just wondering.

Michael Hall

Whatever you have to say about William Shatner–and my own feelings about him are as mixed as possible considering he’s the guy that portrayed the character who was virtually everything I ever wanted to be–few have demonstrated the will and the aptitude he has to try their hand at, well, just about everything that’s not associated with what made them world-famous. He has literally no need to ‘cling’ or associate himself with Trek; the rest of us are more than happy to do it for him.

Here, I’ll say it for Shatner: get a life, dude.

Just Another Salt Vampire

Shatner had some of the best years of his career post-Generations with projects that had nothing to do with Trek. He created another iconic role with Denny Crane. He was in a series of classic commercials. He made an excellent album with Ben Folds.

So your premise is false.

Jack

Yeah, of all of the actors who have done Trek, Shatner is among those clinging to it the least, and he’s been among the most reluctant. He’s done plenty since.

Denny C

He’s spoken a number of times about not knowing what it was that ended his friendship with Nimoy and it’s apparent that this will likely haunt him for the rest of his life. Far too many of us have either witnessed or lived through similar in our lives and these two men, who toured together and performed together for decades, had a bond that was apparent on and off screen so it’s more than a little sad to read how there was no resolution to whatever it was that had occurred.

Harry Ballz

What about the report that Nimoy was PISSED when Shatner included footage of him in a documentary, after he told Shatner he didn’t want to be in it? Could that be it?

Corylea

Yeah, I think maybe Shatner was tone-deaf to interpersonal nuances one too many times, and Leonard didn’t have the strength to deal with it once he became acutely ill.

I'm Dead Jim

Could be. Shat has a nack for being oblivious to the feelings of people around him.

CmdrR

With all my expertise in knowing what Nimoy was thinking… I tend to think the docu betrayal was the last straw. Nimoy knew he was dying and decided to budget his remaining energies into family and things other than a friend who was a drain on his patience. That’s a guess on my part… but, it’s what I believe unless we learn otherwise.

Karl

Which documentary was it?

I’m curious which one it was too. Just a guess, but it might have been Get A Life!, it was made in 2012 for Epix, and the last documentary Shatner made that would have included TOS people, since his next documentary was Chaos on the Bridge about TNG.

Walter D Hatch

The Captains

Yistaan

Bob Orci apparently knows what the cause of the feud was, but he said it wasn’t his place to say what it was: https://trekmovie.com/2016/03/25/review-leonard-my-fifty-year-friendship-with-a-remarkable-man/#comment-5298439 . He did outright say the feud had nothing to do with Nimoy being inadvertently included in Shatner’s documentary. It was something else.

Anthony Thompson

C’mon, @Bob Orci. Spill!

Phil

Shatner knows exactly what happened that caused Nimoy to walk away from him. While it doesn’t matter now, it apparently was enough of an insult that Nimoy’s family chose to disassociate themselves from Mr. Shatner, as well. For Bill to continue to feign ignorance is just pathetic, more evidence of his narcissism and pettiness.

Andrew SD

I’d totally read this. The part about falling out with Nimoy makes me very sad.

Jordan

I agree. My heart breaks hearing that :(

ML31

Here too. I honestly did not know this. Never good to hear of a life long friendship ending.

I’d recommend another Shatner book that is already out: Leonard – My Fifty Year Friendship with an Extraordinary Man. I got surprise teary-eyed reading parts of that book, and Shatner tells it all so well.

navamske

[[The night before his Broadway premiere, he got food poisoning. He managed to forget about it as he started the show, but it hit him hard while he was still onstage, and unbeknownst to the audience and the critics in attendance, “about halfway through the show, I crapped in my pants.”]]

the captain’s log

Karl

If it was food poisoning I doubt there was anything log-like to it!!!!

Latitude83

Captain’s Mess

HubcapDave

Captain’s skid marks…..

Michael Hall

Sadly, he was right not to go to Nimoy’s funeral given the circumstances. It’s really a shame, what happened to their friendship, but I’ve found in my own life that people tend to resent it when you blithely disregard their wishes. Nimoy, for whatever reason, did not want to participate in Shatner’s latest documentary, and Shatner chose to get around that by using convention footage of Nimoy without his consent. I hope it was worth it to him.

The good news for fans like myself is that none of this need affect anyone’s appreciation of TOS, or its portrayal of the friendship between Kirk and Spock. What viewers see when they watch those episodes is two skilled performers doing their jobs, not the reflection of a real-life friendship, as that did not develop until after the series ended. That it did not endure until Nimoy’s passing isn’t tragic. It’s just life.

CmdrR

I’ve enjoyed his books immensely. Fine, I’ll say it. He’s probably a tough man to like or have as a friend… but, he is interesting, and on balance a positive person.

GarySeven

For most of my life I was disappointed in Shatner, although Kirk was my role model for me. Shatner seemed to never understand what made Trek great and he seemed narcissistic. However, in the last five to ten years, as I see him at conventions and read his recent writings, he seems to have grown as a human being, from what I can tell. He demonstrates a greater understanding of Star Trek and he demonstrates more wisdom about life. Moreover, as per this article, he seems more kind and self-sacrificing. I don’t know the man and how much of this is true. But from what I can tell it’s really uplifting to see him mature into a better person.

Masefield

Well said.

Marc Henson

Narcissists are good at making people think they’ve changed.

It may very well all be an act.

karlk

movie memories was a fantastic book

Ryan

We all know why Leonard Nimoy broke off the friendship. And so does Shatner. If he says he doesn’t know, then he’s a liar.

skyjedi

How long was their relationship strained, i always was led to believe that was the reason Leonard Nimoy, refused to star in star trek generations. And why he was in the reboot but Shatner was never asked. Then the movie that would have reunited them in star trek and real life was canceled and then Leonard died.

Corylea

Star Trek Generations came out in 1994, but when Mind Meld came out in 2002, Nimoy told Shatner in it that Bill was his best friend. Plus, when Shatner married Nerine Kidd in 1997 — three years after Generations — Nimoy was Shatner’s Best Man. So, no, their relationship was fine at the time of Generations.

In his second autobiography, Nimoy says that the lines for Spock in the Generations script were lines that any character could say; it didn’t feel as if the writers of the film had actually written a role for Spock. So he preferred to go out with his performance in TUC. DeForest Kelley agreed, so he also declined to appear in Generations. None of this had anything to do with Shatner.

ML31

It was my understanding the Kelly agreed to appear in Generations but did not mainly because his health started deteriorating at the time. Many of his lines were given to Chekov.

Corylea

On page 331* of I Am Spock, Leonard Nimoy reports that after he read the script for Generations, DeForest Kelley said, “I had a better exit in Star Trek VI; why should I muddy it up?”

*Hardcover first US edition

ML31

Well, there seem to be differing reports here then.

Jack

I’d always read that Kelly had turned it down because it just wasn’t a good part.

bmar

A brief story that might shed light on their previous relationship. I was fortunate to work with both of them back in 1997 on a project for Sci Fi Channel, in which Nimoy was starring but Shatner had a brief walk on role of 4 or 5 lines. In rehearsals, Shatner was goofing around and didn’t really want to show up, and said to Leonard “I only have a few lines, what do i need to rehearse for?”

Well, one day, Leonard was kind enough to invite me to his house for lunch. While I was there, the phone rang, and it was Shatner calling Leonard, to remind him of his upcoming wedding and the rehearsal Leonard needed to be at as best man. And Leonard, totally deadpan, says, “But bill, I only have a few lines, what do I need to rehearse for?”

Clearly, to me at least, these were (at the time) two very close friends. I don’t know what happened at the end, but I can remind myself that earlier, they had been as close as brothers.

Corylea

What a wonderful story! Thanks so much for sharing that, Bmar!

Wally

It seems to me Shatner and Nimoy were friendly to each other (most of the time) but not close friends who liked to hang out on their down time or anything. They were different people with different interests. Nimoy was into photography. Shatner likes his horses. And etc.

As much as we’d like them to be like Kirk and Spock, different people who were the best of friends, they were not. They were coworkers, no more no less.

Corylea

Leonard was Best Man when Shatner married his third wife, which suggests that they were more than just co-workers, plus at the end of Mind Meld, Nimoy slings an arm around Shatner and says, “You’re my best friend.” In his book Leonard: My 50-year Friendship with a Remarkable Man, Shatner says that Nimoy was the only friend he ever had.

So yes, they WERE friends; that’s why the ending of that friendship is such a shame.

Wally

Oh, I didn’t know that. Well, I guess Nimoy had some issues near the end. A pity it couldn’t have been for them like Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner have, but we can’t have everything.

DataMat

I think this breakdown in their relationship came right at the death (literally, sadly). They were still very friendly with each other as recently as 2009 for the Captains Summit…

Anthony Thompson

I think you are right on the nose with your assessment. Behind the scenes, things were chilly.

DeanH

The Shatman initially did not seem to have much appreciation for the impact TOS had on its audience. Nor did he seem to care to associate much with MOST of the TOS cast off screen. To him TOS was an acting gig. TNG seemed to change everything. The whole cast actually got along during and after the show’s run and they also embraced the Trek Universe of fans. Patrick Stewart allegedly talked to Shatner about appreciating the fans and encouraged him to actually go to conventions. The TNG impact continues to this very day. Shatner is appearing at Fan Expo in Toronto this weekend (while the Discovery cast and production crew will also have panels there). Speaking of Disco, Frakes says the cast reminds him of themselves, hanging out on set even when they are not filming, old cast mates like Issacs showing up in Toronto at parties, etc. We fans get spoiled by this type of camaraderie, and the realization by the cast of each series (starting with TNG along with some of the TOS cast) that they were (and are) working on something really cool. Whether Shatner really enjoys doing the conventions or simply the adulation and the pay, it is still good that he will be in Toronto (even though I will probably miss his panel, lining up for the Disco production panel).

PaulB

Very lovely (and true!) comment, but I have to point out that Shatner was attending conventions long before TNG, throughout TNG’s run, afterward… Stewart encouraging him to do something he was already doing seems odd. Shatner was going to convention long before Stewart could encourage him to do so.

DeanH

Yeah I that is why I said “allegedly”. I remember reading that Shatner had a hard time accepting that the role of Kirk had defined him (leading to the infamous SNL sketch) and that it was Patrick Stewart who told him to embrace his celebrity. I did a quick Google search and an article did appear saying “Although it took years for him to come to terms with his fame resulting from the short run series, Shatner took advice from Sir Patrick Stewart, who had embraced his celebrity as Captain Picard…” Who know if that is the truth but those stories are certainly out there.

amit

Its so sad that these 2 legends couldn’t reconcile their differences before Nimoy’s tragic passing.

c d

Standup comedy AS Captain Kirk?

Wow.

ML31

Yeah… That would have been something to see.

Trek in a Cafe

You know, if you’re not fighting, you’re not in love.

Gorber

I think the Shatner moment of all moments for me is still the SNL “Get a life, will you people”. I see people online criticizing Shatner’s ego, criticizing Star Trek Discovery in dozens of Youtube videos and online forums, complain, complain, complain. Shatner is out there doing things, has a great work ethic no matter what you think of his personality, and all these people complaining about him or the current state of Trek just sit at a computer making judgements.

Shat lives life, not complaining about it from the sidelines.

Mr Atoz

The face on the book cover photo does not look like him.

The photo of Shatner at the top of this article looks much better.

DIGINON

Probably a little too much photoshop.

DarExc

He really has a lot of projects on the go. Even if he doesn’t write any of these books, he still initiates them and contributes. If I make it to that age, I hope I have half his energy. I’m not a fan of him as a person, but I admire his drive.

the dogfaced boy

If the falling out was as late as Leonard’s illness, could it be that Leonard just wasn’t up to taking the calls and Bill took it personally?

Tiberius2233

So I watched the Captains recently and Nimoy wasn’t even in it!

Also the alleged falling out was several years before Nimoys death , and Shatner says his calls / letters never got answered, but then they must have seen each other filming the VW ad in 2014.

All v confusing and sad, we may never know the truth but I guess there’s a lesson for all of us about friendships.

Cindy Real

This illicit documentary footage story is not the reason for the falling out.

Anthony Thompson

Banned from a funeral like Trump was. Sad! haha.

Richard Ryaby

He calls em like he sees em like it or not.