For an actor almost universally associated with a single character -- Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise -- William Shatner has found diverse ways to stay active in the public eye, even spoofing his overblown acting style in a way far more hip than desperate. Years after he last uttered "warp speed," Shatner remains a well-known face beyond Star Trek conventions, re-creating himself as the spoken-word pitchman for priceline.com, and starring in a popular series of smoky nightclub ads that featured some of the most cutting-edge musicians of the day.
The Canadian native was born on March 22, 1931, in Montréal, where he grew up and attended Verdun High School. Shatner studied commerce at McGill University before getting the acting bug, which eventually prompted him to move to New York in 1956. He initially worked in such live television dramatic shows as Studio One and The United States Steel Hour in 1957 and 1958, as well as on Broadway. His big screen debut soon followed as Alexei in the 1958 version of Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.