He might as well have said, "Ahead warp factor one, Mister Sulu," so familiar
was the voice at the other end of the line. Instead, it was, "Hello, this is
Bill Shatner," a friendly greeting from "Star Trek's" once and always Captain
James T. Kirk.
To many fans, William Shatner exists in the parallel universes of his characters, such as his Emmy-winning role as "Boston Legal's" Denny Crane; the police sergeant who lent dignity to the name "T.J. Hooker"; "The Twilight Zone's" wild-eyed airplane passenger in "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"; a prolific author and documentarian, and the host "Rescue 911" on CBS and "Shatner's Raw Nerve" and "Aftermath" on the Biography channel.
After his recurring character, the Priceline Negotiator, was killed off in a January TV spot for the website Priceline.com, 94 percent of respondents to a company survey said they wanted the actor back. And to no one's surprise, he returned.
After an early career that included steady Broadway work and a role in the 1962 film "Judgment at Nuremberg," the Montreal native was cast as leader of the starship Enterprise in 1966 and helped launch a pop-culture phenomenon. The NBC show followed the now well-known course of three seasons and out before a universe of fandom took hold when the show went into reruns. The original "Star Trek" spawned an animated series, four TV spinoffs and a half-dozen theatrical releases.
Mr. Shatner wasn't always onboard with the fanaticism of Trekkers, but at age 80, he's grown comfortable with his view from the captain's seat.
His latest adventures include a trip back to Broadway for the first time in 50 years for the one-man show "Shatner's World: We Just Live in It." The 100-minute autobiographical piece that played a limited engagement in New York earlier this year makes a tour stop at the Benedum Center on Thursday. In his New York Times review of "Shatner's World," Charles Isherwood described it as "a chatty, digressive and often amusing tour of his unusual acting career."
That path through myriad genres of entertainment took Mr. Shatner back to his Canadian roots in September, when he attended Comiccon de Montreal with his fellow "Star Trek" captain Patrick Stewart.
"Here's an exclusive for you in Pittsburgh," Mr. Shatner said. "Patrick Stewart, his fiancee, my wife and I took a caleche -- do you know what that is? A horse-drawn wagon like they have in New York -- and toured Montreal for three hours, and I recognized very little, it's all so changed."
Montreal reminded Mr. Shatner of another city, where he had visited as a young stage actor and, more recently, to research a book at Carnegie Mellon University.
"I used to go to Pittsburgh when it was like a coal town, and now it's not steel-making, it's an intellectual city. It's a technological and a park city, and all of those terrible things that spewed toxins are gone. It's a totally different city, Montreal, and that's the way Pittsburgh is."
Here's more from Mr. Shatner about his career and what to expect when entering his "World":
Q. I know you talk about your relationship with your father in the show, which reviewers have pointed to as a very poignant moment. What made you want to put your personal story out there?
A. It is my personal life, but it's not like I'm talking about some deep
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