split image of William Shatner

Canadian actor William Shatner is best known for playing James Tiberius Kirk, captain of the starship Enterprise in the Star Trek franchise. 

He debuted as the character in 1966 in the first Star Trek TV series and made his final appearance almost three decades later in the franchise’s seventh feature film, Star Trek Generations (1994).

His storied career as Captain Kirk contributed to Star Trek becoming the world’s most successful sci-fi TV franchise, with revenue estimates of over $10 billion (£8 bn) to date.

William Shatner as Captain Kirk

Shatner has also earned a few world records of his own over the years.

One that may surprise you is his record for the most expensive kidney stone. At some point in 2005, Shatner passed a renal calculus - commonly known as a kidney stone - which he went on to sell to the online casino GoldenPalace.com for an eye-watering $25,000 (then £12,700). He donated the money to the Habitat for Humanity housing charity.

The casino originally offered just $15,000 (£7,600), but Shatner insisted it was worth more, on the basis that his Star Trek tunics have sold for over $100,000 (£50,800).

The record-breaking kidney stone joined the casino’s collection of curiosities, which includes a potato in the shape of The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, a grilled cheese sandwich bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Virgin Mary, and a porcelain plate from the Titanic.

William Shatner (centre-left) with three other passengers of Blue Origin's New Shephard spacecraft: Chris Boshuizen (left), Audrey Powers (centre-right), and Glen de Vries (right)

Shatner broke another record in October 2021 when he became the oldest man in space, aged 90 years 205 days.

His 11-minute journey as a passenger in Blue Origin’s New Shephard suborbital spacecraft took him past the Kármán Line - the internationally recognized boundary of space - and back again. 

The record was previously held by American astronaut John Glenn Jr. (1921-2016), who was 77 years 103 days old when he was launched into space as part of the crew of Discovery STS-95 on 29 October 1998.

Star Trek isn’t the only record-breaking TV show that Shatner has been a part of – he starred as the dad in $h*! My Dad Says (2010-11), which was the world's first television show based on a Twitter feed.

The sitcom, based on Justin Halpern’s popular Twitter feed, portrayed the life of a struggling writer (played by Jonathan Sadowski), who finds work by writing about his father’s politically incorrect rants.

William Shatner and Craig Glenday, Editor-in-Chief of the Guinness World Records book

Our book's Editor-in-Chief, Craig Glenday, visited the NEC in Birmingham, UK, in 2016 for the Star Trek 50th anniversary celebrations, where he had a chat with Shatner and asked him why Star Trek has been so successful.

Shatner replied: “I think the conclusion that I came to was that science fiction in general, and Star Trek specifically, is mythological. So the mythology of science fiction seeks to explain things like time travel, for instance. Name a science fiction concept, and a science fiction writer will imagine what it could be, and you can’t say that that writer is wrong because none of us know what the next moment will entail, let alone 300 years from now.

“So he or she might be right that [to] time travel, instead of expending the energy in a spaceship to go as fast as light – which then still would take you billions of lifetimes – you could compress space and bring space to you, [which] is another turgid concept, but you can’t say that’s wrong either because when we’ve examined quantum physics, we see that what’s in quantum is so bizarre that it beggars anything that’s been imagined.

“So anything that can be imagined might very well be out there. And that’s why Star Trek is popular, I think.”

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