Watch: That Time William Shatner Appeared As Captain Kirk In 1970s Kids’ ‘Hollywood Squares’

In the decade between the time the original Star Trek series ended its three-year run and the premiere of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, William Shatner did return as Captain Kirk, but it wasn’t on board the USS Enterprise.

Kirk on the Storybook Squares

In the mid-1970s, the venerable game show The Hollywood Squares would periodically run a special themed version of the show for kids on Saturdays called The Storybook Squares. For these special editions, each square was occupied by a historic or fictional character played by a Hollywood celebrity.

William Shatner appeared in multiple episodes as Captain James T. Kirk, in costume with a phaser and communicator. You can watch one of the episodes featuring Shatner as Kirk and all the ’70s celebrity craziness below, courtesy of The Fun & Games Channel on YouTube.

Joining Shatner on the big board for this episode were a great collection of ’70s celebs:

  • Bonnie Franklin as Goldilocks
  • Charo as Lady Godiva
  • Roddy McDowell as Pinocchio
  • Rip Taylor  as General George Armstrong Custer
  • Doc Severinson as The Pied Piper
  • John Byner as Long John Silver.
  • Joan Rivers as The Old Woman in The Shoe
  • Julie McWhirter as the Good Fairy

According to Wikipedia, other celebrities who appeared during the brief two-year run of Storybook Squares include Milton Berle as Old Mother Hubbard, Anson Williams (who would go on to direct Deep Space Nine and Voyager episodes) as Simple Simon, Florence Henderson as Belle Starr, Soupy Sales as Thomas Edison, Rich Little as Noah, and Vincent Price as Captain Hook. The Hollywood Squares veteran Paul Lynde appeared as Attila the Hun, Frankenstein’s monster, The Wicked Witch, Davy Crockett, and Paul Bunyan.

You can see Shatner below in a photo from a different episode alongside Roddy McDowell as Sherlock Holmes.

William Shatner as Kirk with some other Storybook Squares celebrities (Nostalgia Central)

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Doc Severinson as The Pied Piper! That and John Byner I’d tune in for.

That rug that Shatner is wearing.

So Shatner did the Hollywood Squares but couldn’t go to the space shuttle Enterprise reveal with the other Trek actors?

But his hair rocks

The Storybook Squares PAID, NASA didn’t.

i believe he’s has since stated he couldnt attend as was filming something at the time (possibly Colombo as the Shuttle reveal was 17 Sept 76, his Columbo ep aired 10 Oct 76). you think shatner wouldve wanted to miss out on the Enterprise space shuttle event? i doubt it

Walter Koenig was also in that same “Fade in to Murder” Columbo episode but did attend the shuttle unveiling. Koenig’s memories at:

Koenig probably worked one afternoon on that ep. Shatner willve been at least a week shooting

Walter Koenig appears in one scene which was probably a days work. Shatner, as the featured guest star, appears in multiple scenes which shot over a period of at least two weeks.

Think he was making KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS at the time.

Re: hair rocks

I’ll say, he should’ve hired it to play the rock monster he would’ve battled in that Trek movie he directed.

Canon? I don’t think Shatner even wants this remembered on his resume!

Hard to say. I think he’s mellowed out as he got older. Even the late Leonard Nimoy had fun with his infamous Bilbo song in a commercial before he died:

If Lower Decks is canon, than this should be too! (j/k)

HOLLYWOOD SQUARES had writers. I would suspect STORYBOOKS’ canonicity all hangs on whether those writers were on Paramount’s payroll or not?

His Oscars appearance as Captain Kirk should be canon too?

I believe, Seth, the host, wrote that and it wasn’t on CBS’ dole?

That phaser bit slayed me!

im curious as to where the phaser came from..(im guessing a left over ‘hero prop’ from TOS as it appears to make a stun noise)

If it made a sound itself then it was no “hero” prop, the phaser props from his series were just that: props. They didn’t generate their own fx, sound or otherwise, that was all added in post.

i believe the hero props did make noises and light up (see Scotty draining the phaser in Galileo 7)

flaming photon torpedo of truth,


That was all just Hollywood magic.

That’s a Nelson phaser — they were fan made and sold at conventions in the 70’s. Around 75 dollars back then. Metal with electronics. You had to order it and they were made up for you. The costume is made up. Saw him talk around the time this aired at a convention. A woman asked Shatner if the Storybook costume was “real”. I remember because he answered with a pun. He said; “No. It was too loose. Too loose to Trek.” True story.

Toulouse-Lautrec. Gotta love it.

Love this. Have to give the man credit, even when times were slow for him career-wise, he was always out there working. Kingdom Of The Spiders, anyone? :)

“Perilous Voyage”, anyone. Shatner shot that TV movie between seasons two and three of “Trek”. NBC sat on that TV movie for eight years, finally airing it in July, 1976. If I recall, Shatner’s character was plastered when he made his first appearance. He at least had good co-stars in Lee Grant and Michael Parks. (There’s a “Trek” connection there. Parks did a series titled “Then Came Bronson” in 1969; Bob Justman worked on that series after leaving “Trek”. )

That’s the trouble with old TV shows, the evidence is there forever! That rug on Shatner is the WORST! It looks like a dark-haired animal crawled up there and DIED! Of course, in the mid ‘70’s, Shatner was on a pretty tight budget (thus the appearance), so he probably had to go cheap on the rugs!

I’m afraid time and money did not improve them

He still had some of his own hair in the ’60’s and the toupee he wore was two separate pieces. As the 70’s progressed, he lost more of his hair, forcing him to use a different hair piece. I was 1st AD on a low budget film and the hair and makeup guy was a wig expert. Fascinating stuff. Now, I’m lucky. I’ve got a full head of hair. However, I’ve never understood why men would do comb overs or staple a dead woodchuck on their scalp. It’s not fooling anybody. Embrace your baldness.

Interesting. Did you witness WS’ wig?

His rug just needs to be hooked up with the right makeup and hairstylist artists. I mean, if a rug can convincingly portray a Horta silicon rock creature, one should be able to convincingly pull off a head of hair, easily.

I thought Shatner had a good point that stars don’t make noise because space is a vacuum. So I looked it up. I don’t think it was a good question because there isn’t a straightforward answer. Even in 2015, the answer was:
One of the few locations in nature where we believe this effect would occur is at the surface of stars. When they are accumulating new material stars could generate sound in a very similar manner to that which we observed in the laboratory – so the stars might be singing – but, since sound cannot propagate through the vacuum of space, no one can hear them.”

Agreed! THANK you!

Nicely stated.

When you need a paycheck, you need a paycheck.

Shatner has never been shy about the lean years of his career which, as he describes it, was pretty much the entire decade between the end of the original series and The Motion Picture.

Ah that 70’s look. Bad music, polyester, bell-bottom pants, hair that’s too long. Lapels that are too wide… Did I say bad music?

That is so embarrassing.

Taking Shatner at his word, this might be about the time frame, or shortly after, when he’s said he was living out of his truck for a while. If any paying gig kept a roof over your head, then you do what you gotta do. There’s no embarrassment in that.

If I remember his book correctly, that was closer to the show’s cancellation in 1969; and that was because he was also getting a divorce and the only jobs he could get were various regional theater and summer stock gigs. He slept in a camper shell on his pickup because the money saved on hotels and coffee shops was money to be sent home in child and spousal support checks. While Shatner did appear as Kirk in the original 1969 version of the show, this episode is labeled as being from 1976 and part of the 1976-1977 run of episodes.

That reinforces the point. If the guy had obligations, was within five years of having lived in his truck for a bit (regardless of reasons) still fresh in his memory, and was staring career typecasting square in the eye, he can’t be faulted for taking these types of gigs. There are plenty of things Shatner can be taken to task for, a work ethic shouldn’t be one of them.

It was a job and he said he was taking work where he could get it to support his family. Was it a highlight of his career? No but he got paid for the gig and looked like he was enjoying himself. He’s worth millions now and has two Emmy’s under his built so I’m sure this doesn’t keep him up at night.

William Shatner is the man!! What a good sport!!!
My Dad still jokes about how when I was a kid Captain Kirk was who I wanted to be.

I am old. Watched this when it was broadcast. I kept looking at his hair. Even when I was young I could not figure out how he had more hair. Lol.

i read a lot of his biographies. He would do anything post Star Trek because his divorce payments were predicated on his payroll from Star Trek. He had massive payments to make. His work ethic came out of that. From that point forward he always assumed he would lose everything. To this day he always takes a job. His logic is you never knew where it could take you.

Yeah, but here’s the thing; Records show this program was broadcast in 1975/6. I met Shatner in person in early 1974 and chatted with him for 10 minutes. His hair looked great at the time. What, two years later he had to go THIS cheap on the hair? I guess alimony payments will do that to a guy! Poor bastard!

Hey Harry, was that at a convention? I’m surprised he took the time… Maybe back then he was different…

No, Silvereyes. I was an usher at the Uptown Theatre in Toronto and Shatner and his wife were there to see the movie “Don’t Look Now”. After the movie Shatner’s wife went to the bathroom for a good ten minutes. Shatner was just standing there (in the corner of the lobby), so being an usher at the show, it was natural that we started chatting. I had his undivided attention for the whole time she was gone. He was very nice throughout our whole discussion. How many Trek fans get 10 minutes with the Shat all to yourself?

Exactly. No fan would get that without paying hundreds of $$ and then it wouldn’t be real. That’s a good memory Harry. Now let me tell you about the time Mick Jagger smiled at me and I just ignored him and walked away… But that’s for another time.

Late to the party, and different series, but my brother almost mowed down Tim Russ once. We were leaving the day after the ’08 STLV con, and as we walked to the front desk, my autistic brother was staring at the amazing chandeliers instead of watching where he was going. (The chandeliers were his favorite part of the whole trip.) Well, Tim Russ was distracted by a phone call, and wasn’t paying attention either and was waling the other way. They walked right into each other before we could stop it. We couldn’t talk to him but it was still a funny story.

A couple days earlier at the same con I made a real fool of myself when I ran into John de Lancie in a hall. (Not literally.) It was a completely empty hall, and I was waiting for someone. I became aware of someone walking past me quite close and automatically turned a bit to look. Giant John at 6’4″ was waling past counting out a huge wad of cash with a handler at his side who looked like a hobbit in comparison. I had acted like a normal person the entire con. At that moment though, my brain just froze. He passed me. And once he was a good 5 feet away from me some miniscule part of my brain unfroze and I loudly exclaimed “Oh-My-God!-You’re-John-de-Lancie!-I-LOVE-YOU!” I shouted it slurred together as one unintelligible word. (Yeah, not great…) To his credit he turned around and waved with an amused smile on his face. I could practically hear him think “Damn, I lost count. Ah, but if this is what I have to do to get this money; it could be worse…”

So those are my two stories about random run-ins.

Seems to be the story of my life. Don’t ever meet anyone interesting, but know plenty of people who have.

Kind of how people lived after the Depression, lots of people lived a Fugal life style and saved there money just in case.

I believe Shatner appeared as our intrepid captain in two weeks’ worth of episodes.

As a child of the 1970s I actually remember watching this when it aired. Back in those days I was starved for any Trek related content, however tenuous or tangential the connection might be and scouring the TV Guide listings for any appearance of Trek actors was a common pastime for my brother and me. Shatner and Nimoy did a lot of these game shows; I even remember both of them appearing together on the $10,000 Pyramid back in the day.

I remember that too! As I recall Nimoy was quite good at it.

Yup, Nimoy took it seriously, Shatner largely played it for laughs. There was even a memorable Pyramid episode where Shatner did the final challenge solo and still lost – quite funny actually….

Shatner took it seriously, he just wasn’t good at it. He actually said part of the answer word once and in his frustration, he threw his chair (the writers of the first Shatner bio document this.) Then after the commercial break, you see him and Nimoy, and I think the latter is holding the broken chair pieces.

Wow–I had no idea . . .:0)

Wow! Memmmmmorieeeees — especially that Chevette

Also, Shatner’s wig, OMG. Wasn’t he right, though, about the sun making noise? It’s in a vacuum. So I agree with him. No noise.

Yes Marja, he was right about the sun making no noise. How can there be noise in a vacuum? Those game-show people don’t know what they’re talking about.

And that Chevette did bring back memories. It was a piece of crap and a death trap, still made me feel all warm and fuzzy when I saw it…

Actually, the sun can and does make noise that can pass through the sun. It’s just that the noise won’t pass through the vacuum of space between us so we can’t here it. GarySeven said it better with a link above though.

It all boils down to the Earth, itself, is in the same vacuum as the Sun. Do we consider the Earth “soundless” because of this.

Also, consider this: spies and private eyes can bounce a laser beam off a distant pane of glass on a building far from their location and the fluctuation in the beam will “mirror” the soundwaves in that rroom hitting that window. Those sounds can be reconstituted from that and listened to. If the spy’s building and his target’s are airtight this will still work even if all the atmosphere between the two buildings is evacuated, i.e. they are in a vacuum.

Seismic waves are sound waves. The Apollo missions and all our other observations of our airless moon veify that it vibrates frequently.

Conclusion: The truth that the vacuum of space can not directly support the transmission of sound is NOT equivalent to claiming that the solid objects in it are vibrationless, i.e. soundless, and that it is impossible to build sensors so that we might eavesdrop on them.

The “music” of the spheres is real.

All sound is the result of vibration, but all vibration does not produce sound. Yes it can be interpreted and transformed into sound by a sensor device, but it is not inherently sound. To be pedantic, sound is caused by waves in a medium that are produced by an event within that medium, which produces the waves. The medium could be air, water, … In turn the waves cause our eardrums to vibrate and this is interpreted by our nervous system/brain as sound. Seismic waves are not sound waves. If tectonic activity causes the air to vibrate, then the air waves are the sound waves. That being said, stars cannot produce sound, because there is no air or any other medium present that can propagate whatever activity the star produces, whether vibrations are present or not.

To continue the pedantry, air and water are just mixtures of numerous gasesous and liquid substances which can be isolated and a human can hold their breath, stick their head in it and hear vibrations as sounds. Also, the definition of sound is not limited to the human ear, but includes all animals which widens the field of sensor types capable of detecting it.

The human ear can also hear via bone conduction which comes into play when we can hear a distant train farther away via steel rail than air can manage.

Somehow, I doubt your contention that no living thing on or in the ground, or in water can hear seismic waves. I live in earthquake country, and I’m almost certain the few times I’ve heard a distant rumble before feeling the ground move , that that rumble was seismic waves?

I suppose I’m taking the view that if a vibration happens that some living thing could possibly hear then it’s sound, whereas you you take the view that if a tree falls in the woods where no hearing living thing was around to notice it, it fell silently?

I know what you’re saying and I do agree. Those seismic waves that produce a rumble, that’s because the event is making airwaves that you perceive as sound. But an earthworm 10 feet underground where there is no air to create airwaves, could still “hear” the rumble. At this point we are arguing semantics. I know there is activity in the sun that could produce some waves and a photonic being living inside the star could very well hear it as sound… And no, I don’t take that view on the falling tree…

It is important to know when understanding and agreement exist. I thank you for your response to the question.

I tend to take the approach to consider whether an extremophile might live long enough in the environs to hear it before expiration, but I shudder to think someone might try to conduct such an experiment to prove it. For the purposes of a Trek discussion, it is better to accept that the various incarnations take the view that such photonic creatures do exist.

only somewhat relatedly, it had occurred to me that the “silly” being quiet in space during “balance of terror” might not be so silly after all, if each other’s sensors can see the hull of the ship subtly vibrating with the noise.

i had already known we can reconstitute sound from a video of leaves on a plant moving in a soundproof room, didn’t know about the laser thing.

so i feel slightly vindicated :)

I’ll have to watch that again to refresh my memory, but didn’t that happen while they were cloaked?

Regardless, the device that was activated clearly was electronic which means it likely emitted a ton of electromagnetic noise as well.

yes, the romulan ship was cloaked, but the enterprise was not. the enterprise wanted to appear as a sensor ghost/echo/artefact, and so needed to run silent.

spock said the romulan ship couldn’t see out of its cloak, but they obviously could use some kinds of sensors (just as the enterprise could detect the cloaked ship’s movements with their “motion scanners”); which is why there’s the whole “follow their course exactly to look like an echo” plot – the enterprise is following their motion sensor blip, and presumably the enterprise is also a motion sensor blip for the romulans?

you’re right, of course, that accidentally activating the transceivers would also be a bad idea, whether or not the romulans could somehow indirectly detect sound on the bridge. but it’s a thing i like to think, just to explain the “silliness” of everyone whispering on the bridge in space, haha :)

if one presumes the “motion” sensor is a sophisticated gravitational wave detector, it would make sense that you could see a) a cloaked ship’s movement with it and b) to detect the outside world with it, while cloaked, despite being unable to see any EM radiation inside the cloak bubble. one could postulate that the vibrations of the hull would also, very subtly, show up on such a detector.

of course, they were also able to send subspace signals while cloaked, so it’s definitely the case that the romulans should’ve been able to detect the enterprise’s own subspace emissions, even if they couldn’t detect the EM noise caused by the instruments (if spock is right that EM radiation doesn’t come into the cloak bubble).

so you’re right, that one could argue they just didn’t want to have any systems turned on that might send signals. and possibly omit the entire “whispering on the bridge” scene in a remake (after all, people talked normally while evading others or while cloaked in later series!)

sorry for the long one, haha. balance of terror is just, possibly, my all-time-fav TOS episode. weirdness and all (treating space like it’s the ocean is silly nowadays, of course). so i like discussing the various theories about how the events depicted might work and might fit-in with later trek :)

he’s smiling…

I can’t believe there was a time that a Chevette was considered a prize. What happened if you lost?

You got a Pinto with that special edition bumper…..

I’vde been LOOKING for these clips for ages in the YouTube era. Yay.
I was already old enough to roll eyes at his “hijinks” this many years after the run, but watching now It’s telling how players went to him FOUR TIMES in a half-hour format. Some stars never got called on once, barely twice. Says a lot about Trek’s exploding underground everyday popularity. (As well as Shatner needing the cash in his B-movie days.)

Yes he was called on four times, but he was in a corner, which is a strategic position… That could account for it to some degree. But you make a good point.

I haven’t clicked on it, because I still remember feeling very irate about a question and answer about what Scotty’s job was aboardship. I think Shatner said he was Chief Engineer, and the contestant agreed, only for Peter Marshall to say no, he was the engineering officer (as if there is only one!) I think maybe they got that out of TMOST, but wherever they got it, Scott was Kirk’s chief engineer in aired dialogue, repeatedly.

I remember thinking, ‘if this guy loses the game because of this, this show is a crock.’ Think how PO’d I’d’ve been if it had been me as the contestant! The fact I can remember this event and the emotion so long after is scary!

Yes scary, I wouldn’t want to accidentally bump into you in a crowd, lest you lose it and jump me. I say this tongue-in-cheek, because I agree with you 100%. In fact your post made ME irate now…

Pied Piper appears to be wearing a TNG uniform?

Well, now we know what a “Phase II” Kirk might have looked like… :)

There’s test footage out there of Shatner in phase2 costume

Only photos of costume-makeup-hair tests, no film/video has surfaced.

Now we know why 24th century Starfleet hires barbers like Mr. Mot.

Close enough to TOS that facially he still looks like the younger Shatner; close enough to TMP that he looks like the movie Kirk. A mid-way Kirk.