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 tour, his 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.
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: