I have 13 William Shatner autographs. Eight of those I got in person. Three of those are extra special. This is the story of those three.
William Shatner seems to create strong impressions on people, which is a nice way of saying that some really like him and others do not. Actress Kaley Cuoco, for example, seems to have a genuine affection for him, and in the episode of Shatner’s Raw Nerve with Leonard Nimoy it is obvious the two are very close. Of course, sadly, there was a falling out between them before Nimoy died.
James Doohan was not a fan, writing in his book Beam Me Up, Scotty, “I have to admit, I just don’t like the man. And, as has been well-documented elsewhere, he didn’t exactly have a knack for generating good feelings about him.” Nichelle Nichols echoed this. At the end of their interview for Star Trek Memories, she said to Shatner “I’m not finished yet. I have to tell you why I despise you.” She told Shatner that he was “very difficult to work with, and really inconsiderate of other actors.” Shatner, to his credit, includes the story in his book, and added “I must admit that Nichelle’s criticism is probably valid.”
I do not know Shatner at all, but I was a print journalist for a while and that meant I got to interact with him outside of a convention setting, and he was always nice to me.
In 1995, I was a junior reporter going through press releases and I came across the announcement that Shatner would be appearing at the launch of C.O.R.E. Digital, an animation and special-effects studio in Toronto. He was an investor. I took the press release to my editor and said “I need you to send me to this.” She agreed. At the time, I was too “professional” to step out of my assigned role so, other than a handshake and a reporter-type question, I didn’t have any real contact with him.
A number of years later, Shatner was hired by Epson to help launch a new product: a TV with a built-in photo printer. (It was a silly product and soon disappeared.) I was an editor by then and didn’t feel as restricted by my role, so I brought with me a Star Trek V DVD and a 1970s Kirk Mego action figure, still in its package. After the event, I approached Shatner and asked him to sign the DVD. That signature wasn’t too clear, so I pulled out the Mego figure and he signed that too. Both are currently sitting on a shelf in my Star Trek room.
After he signed the Mego figure, one of the other journalists said to me “Why do you have a Kirk action figure” and I replied “Why don’t you have a Kirk action figure?” I turned to leave the room and Shatner called out, joking, “I don’t want that to show up on eBay.” I laughed and walked out, but I returned a minute later. He was talking to a PR rep. “I’m sorry to interrupt,” I said. “I just want to tell you that this will not be sold on eBay. I have been a fan forever, and this is important to me.” He shook my hand and thanked me for telling him that.
In 2007, Shatner was hired by Canadian telecom company Rogers to promote its then-impressive video phones. (Think FaceTime, but years before Apple did it.) You can see some of the press conference here; it’s a little cheesy. After the announcement, he did a series of TV interviews and then the print media got one-on-ones. By the time I sat down with him, it had been a long day and our talk was fairly brief. After we were done, I said “Would it be untoward of me to ask for an autograph?” He smiled and said “No, that would be quite toward. What have you got?” I pulled out the TOS season 1 DVD set and he signed it. It’s on my shelf beside Star Trek V and the Mego figure.
In those encounters, Shatner was gracious and accommodating to a journalist who was mixing a little fanboy time into his work day. And back to that Epson event: a PR person I know told me Shatner could not have been nicer to them on the day of the event and the evening before, when they took him out for dinner.