Title: William Shatner: A Transformed Man
Author: Dennis William Hauck
This quote-rich biography presents a balanced view of William Shatner as a person, an actor, a husband and father, and a visionary. It features his work with Star Trek and his various cast mates without neglecting his other facets and relationships, and it is designed to be readable and interesting even for non-Trekkies (in fact, Trekkies might be disappointed by the generalized summaries of the movies and the lack of trivia about the show).
The goal of the work is to depict Shatner in all his complexity. It shows readers Shatner rather than telling readers about him through anecdotes, stories, and numerous quotes from those who knew him, including the memories of the biographer himself.
Overall, the focus is on his acting and how he followed his dream of trying to become the next Laurence Olivier, and in this respect it leaves other details out, such as what became of his sisters and whether they ever interacted with him beyond their youth. It does elaborate on his relationship with his father, but this may be because Shatner reconnected with his father later in life.
In many ways, it reads like a biography that Shatner would’ve commissioned if he wanted a balanced look at his life passions. His interest in science, aliens, the theatre, acting, and his career shines through, and even the passages devoted to showing his various affiliations with women seems written from his point of view, describing them in a blunt, somewhat patronizing manner whereby they’re defined by looks first, rather than personality, much as Shatner himself, according to the narration, would rate them.
Though the biography explores Shatner’s sexuality and matrimonial affairs, it does so in a fairly factual manner. Even the short snippet from a fanfiction story where Kirk and Spock are intimate is tame. There are a few expletives in some of the quotes from cast members and friends, but one can appreciate the author’s including all of what they said rather than filtering things out.
Though sometimes repetitive, the work lets readers experience Shatner’s delights, disappointments, fights, and struggles in acting, producing, and life through colorful anecdotes and summarizations.
However, one noticeable omission was in discussing Shatner’s relationships with his cast mates. While the biography discussed the various differences of opinion between him and Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, James Doohan, and Walter Koenig, it cast the friendship between Shatner and Leonard Nimoy in a positive light, and based on the recent book by Shatner himself, there was an estrangement at the end.
But overall, the biography tells the fun, relatable story of a man who believes in living life to the fullest, in following his emotions and passions and carving out his own path in life. The author’s sense of humor and understanding of Shatner shines through, making this a biography worth reading for anyone who enjoys the life stories of actors and people with strong personalities, and even avid Trekkies might enjoy the look at the other side of Shatner that this work provides.
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