William Shatner has notched up an impressive 50-plus years in front of the camera, displaying heady comedic talent and being instantly recognizable to several generations of cult television fans as the square-jawed Captain James T. Kirk, commander of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise.
Shatner was born in Côte Saint-Luc, Montréal, Québec, Canada, to Anne (Garmaise) and Joseph Shatner, a clothing manufacturer. His father was a Jewish emigrant from Bukovina in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, while his maternal grandparents were Lithuanian Jews. After graduating from university he joined a local Summer theatre group as an assistant manager. He then performed with the National Repertory Theatre of Ottawa and at the Stratford, Ontario Shakespeare Festival as an understudy working with such as Alec Guinness, James Mason, and Anthony Quayle. He came to the attention of New York critics and was soon playing important roles on major shows on live television.
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