Thursday, March 10, 2016

Leonard: My Fifty Year Friendship With a Remarkable Man by William Shatner

Leonard: My Fifty Year Friendship With a Remarkable man
by William Shatner [Biography Nimoy]

The passing of actor Leonard Nimoy in February 2015 impacted his legions of devoted fans in many ways. One think the world of Trekkies were intrigued by was what the impact would be on Nimoy’s former co-star and long-time friend, William “Captain Kirk” Shatner — who found himself on the hot seat when was committed to a charity event on the other side of the country at the time of Nimoy’s funeral. Although he was criticized by the “fannish” world for not being there for the funeral, Shatner looks back on those events, and the 50-or-so years that he and Nimoy were linked so inextricably, in this emotional and revealing biography — a biography not so much of either Shatner himself or Nimoy, but instead of their friendship.

Shatner rightly points out that in the cutthroat world of television and motion picture acting, long-term relationships are not very common — casts work closely with each other for short periods of time, under intense stress, forming bonds of one type or another, and when the final episode is filmed, there are often empty promises of remaining close to your co-stars in upcoming years, but never actually staying in touch, because you’ve all moved on to other projects and other new groups of co-workers. The fact that Star Trek had a life beyond its short network run — first an animated series, then new feature films, and Star Trek conventions that the actors appeared at, meant that Shatner and Nimoy ended up spending a lot more time together “away from work” and actually getting to know each other. They discovered a great number of similarities in their families and career paths, and grew to respect each other far more as friends than they had as actors on a short-lived television series. In fact, Nimoy’s long bout with alcoholism and with his son’s addictions, led to him being one of the rocks Shatner relied on when his Shatner tried to deal with his own wife, Marcy’s, alcoholism and eventual accidental drowning death.

Shatner has a reputation as a self-centered egotist — many of his other Star Trek co-stars have complained for years about his hogging the spotlight and never showing interest in them and their lives. His constant in presence in new shows, stage productions and commercials, even at the age of 85, is explained as he looks back at both his own and Nimoy’s work ethic and career “drive”. Shatner’s look at their relationship and friendship in Nimoy’s final few years is very emotional, and adds layers to my appreciation for both men and their contributions to the world of popular culture. For Star Trek fans, this is a “must read”, but I would also recommend it to anyone curious about the pressure cooker world of an actor trying to make a living in television. The only reason it doesn’t get a “10” from me is that Shatner (and his co-writer) seems to repeat himself occasionally and meander a bit.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try I Am Not Spock, and I Am Spock, by Leonard Nimoy, and any of Shatner’s several personal biographies, including Up Till Now, Shatner Rules, Get a Life, Star Trek Movie Memories or Star Trek Memories.] [ Wikipedia page for Leonard Nimoy ] | [ official William Shatner web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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