NEW YORK TIMES: He’s late. He calls to explain. “A mix-up,” he says, and then, “I read all your stories.” Pause. “You. Are. A. Grrreat. Writer.” Another pause. “What’s your name?” I tell him. He says, “Of course it is.” I ask what his name is. “MY NAME? I. Am. William. Shatner!” Well, yes, but which William Shatner? The child actor from Canada, descended from Eastern European rabbis? The 23-year-old Shakespearean whom Sir Tyrone Guthrie called the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s most promising actor? The young actor who made his debut on Broadway two years later, in 1956, in “Tamburlaine the Great,” then appeared in his first Hollywood film, “The Brothers Karamazov,” with Yul Brynner in 1958 and starred on Broadway in “The World of Suzie Wong” that same year and “A Shot in the Dark” in 1961? That actor was mentioned in the same breath as his contemporaries Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Robert Redford — until, without explanation, his career faded before it bloomed. The great movie roles weren’t coming his way, so in the ’60s, waiting for stardom, he took parts in forgettable movies like “The Outrage” and “Incubus”; guest roles on TV dramas like “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Twilight Zone”; parts on TV serials like “Route 66,” “Gunsmoke” and “Dr. Kildare.” At 35, he was a working actor who showed up on time, knew his lines, worked cheap and always answered his phone. In 1966, he accepted a starring role in a sci-fi series called “Star Trek,” joining a no-name cast, some of whom later accused him of being pompous, self-aggrandizing, clueless and insufferably William Shatner, which became his greatest role once he finally accepted the fact of it. MORE

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