Jun 9, 2015

William Shatner, Teen Idol

William Shatner will forever be remembered as Captain James T. Kirk, who taught alien babes how to kiss and got his shirt ripped off by alien demigods on the first incarnation of Star Trek (1966-1969).

Or maybe as T.J. Hooker (1982-86), the veteran cop paired with rookie Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed).  But in a 50-plus year career, he's played hundreds of characters, including some beefcake and buddy-bonding roles.

Especially early in his career:

 Billy Budd, the young cabin boy who draws the erotic interest of the captain in a 1955 tv adaption of the Herman Melville novel.

The kind, sensitive, gay-vague Alexei in The Brothers Karamazov (1958), with Yul Brynner as Dmitri.

Peter Gifford in The Explosive Generation (1960), who causes a scandal by teaching sex ed in high school (his students include Lane Kinsolving, Billy Gray of Father Knows Best, and a very young Beau Bridges).

The gay Greek emperor Alexander the Great in a 1968 tv movie (heterosexualized, of course).

In Vanished (1971), a powerful presidential adviser (Arnold Green) vanishes.  The White House tries to cover up the fact that he was gay. Shatner plays a reporter trying to uncover the truth.

Not a lot of gay roles, but he did appear on the drag queen-friendly Madame's Place in 1982, and he played a homophobic lawyer on a 2007 episode of Boston Legal, assigned the case of a judge who is suing a company for not "curing" his "same-sex attraction disorder."

And in his 2010-2011 sitcom $h*! my Dad Says, his Ed has a gay assistant.


  1. Shatner had no idea that Star Trek costar George Takei was gay until he was invited to the wedding. He didn't go.

  2. "Incubus," which had the dialogue entirely in Esperanto, has a lesbian subtext between a female demon and Shatner's sister.


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