Oct. 13, 2021, 6:01 a.m. ET
Oct. 13, 2021, 6:01 a.m. ETImageMr. Shatner speaking at the William Shatner Spotlight panel during the first day of New York Comic Con 2021 at the Jacob Javits Center earlier this month.Credit…Bennett Raglin/Getty Images
The star name in the four-person crew that Blue Origin will launch to the edge of space on Wednesday is William Shatner.
For those who haven’t been paying attention since these voyages of the star ship Enterprise began more than 50 years ago: Mr. Shatner, now 90, played the indomitable Captain James T. Kirk in the original “Star Trek” television series that debuted in 1966. The show aired for three seasons, and Mr. Shatner returned as Kirk with members of the original cast for six films from 1979 to 1991. Captain Kirk perished in 1994’s “Star Trek: Generations.”
As the Trek media empire expanded since the original series (it now encompasses a growing multiverse of films and shows, as well as video games, merchandise, conventions and more), Mr. Shatner’s place as a bona fide science-fiction celebrity has only strengthened.
“It looks like there’s a great deal of curiosity in this fictional character, Captain Kirk, going into space,” Mr. Shatner said in a promotional video posted on Twitter by Blue Origin. “So let’s go along with it. Enjoy the ride.”
But his life in the public eye is far from limited to “Star Trek.”
He won two Emmy Awards and snagged nominations for his roles in the interconnected legal dramas “The Practice” and “Boston Legal” in the 1990s and 2000s (his “Star Trek” work never received Emmy or Oscar nods). He also received an outstanding guest actor nomination for a series of cameos as The Big Giant Head in “3rd Rock From the Sun.”
His age has not halted his work. Earlier this year, he was the lead actor in the romantic comedy “Senior Moment” alongside Jean Smart, 20 years his junior at 70.
Offscreen, Shatner has released several albums that straddle the line between music and spoken word poetry (a style that produced a particularly memorable performance of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” at the 1978 Science Fiction Film Awards). In 2012, he came to Broadway with a one-man show that traversed his life and career. And even as a nonagenarian, he’s kept up with the kids and brought his distinct personality to Twitter, which has served as an ideal platform to hype his latest adventure.
Mr. Shatner, in an interview with CNN last week, said he’s bringing along on his jaunt to space a “little blue satchel” of mementos that includes “three or four little trinkets” from family and friends.
But during the flight, he intends to stay focused on looking back at planet Earth.
“I plan to be looking out the window with my nose pressed against the window,” he said during a chat last week…