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Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Living Legend William Shatner

Actor, director, singer and author William Shatner will be 93 next month, and he’s hardly slowed down. What’s his secret?

William “Bill” Shatner will turn 93 on March 22. He’s had an amazing life, from playing Captain Kirk on Star Trek and winning a Golden Globe and two Emmy Awards to becoming the oldest person to rocket into space at age 90. He’s also been broke at times, and spent a year living in a camper with his dog. How does Shatner stay engaged and relevant after nine decades?

His own advice on how to have a long life is simple. “Don’t die. That’s it; that’s the secret” he says, tongue-in-cheek, in his book, “Live Long and ….” “Simply keep living and try not to slow down.” But there’s a lot more to it than that, from exercise to stem cell treatments. First, let’s review his work history.

Star Trek and Much More

Shatner was born in Canada and got his big break when he was cast as Captain James T. Kirk in the Star Trek franchise. Although the television show only ran from 1966 to 1969, it eventually catapulted the actor into stardom. But in the near term, Shatner got typecast and struggled to find work, losing his home and finally living in a truck-bed camper. At the time, people in California’s San Fernando valley could hire him to make an appearance at their small party. 

To make ends meet, he appeared in a multitude of quiz shows and commercials. Then, in the late 70s, Paramount noticed that Trekkies were becoming a thing, and began producing Star Trek movies using the original actors. And like that, Shatner was in high demand at Comic Cons, late-night shows and much more for the next many decades.

In 1982 he also snagged the title role of veteran police sergeant T.J. Hooker in a series that ran for five seasons. Toward the end of the series, Shatner tried his hand at directing while still hawking products like the VIC-20 home computer. 

But that wasn’t all. Shatner co-wrote or had a ghostwriter generate 47 books ranging in subject from Star Trek novels to nonfiction. And he has maintained a sort of singing career, creating eight albums that feature him reading lyrics from popular songs such as Elton John’s “Rocket Man”. Additionally, he is a breeder of champion Saddlebreds and reining Quarterhorses and rode one to an amateur World Champion title at the age of 89.

Keeping Active

Phew! Almost anyone would be envious of those accomplishments, or just the ability to keep on creating for so many years. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that Shatner hews to a lifestyle that is heavy on healthy living. 

"I wake up every morning thinking, I've got to keep myself in shape to ride horses," Shatner says. "If I am not sitting on a horse at least once or twice a week, it feels detrimental to my heart."

He also hops in a pool for half an hour every day, running in place and exercising his arms. He has kept strong throughout his eighties and nineties. Before he went into space, he had to run up seven flights of stairs in under a minute and a half to qualify for the flight.


He found a new passion in his mid-eighties when he bought an electric bike. 

"The e-bike got me outside and got me fitter," he told the LA Times. "Going up the hills is not a problem. I've got an arthritic back from all the horseback riding, my muscles are tender, yet I go back to my car when the bike ride's over and I feel perfect."

As an added bonus, Shatner’s extended family goes on regular rides with him.  "A family that was always somewhat tight became a hugely cohesive group," he says. 

Shatner is well aware that socializing and keeping active is a big part of staying healthy.  "Say yes to the opportunities life is offering. Say yes to life, yes to dinner, yes to going out, and yes to something new,” he says. “Because time is too short to lose one opportunity to sacrifice another."

He also watches what he eats and is largely vegetarian. "I try to adhere to a more plant-based diet these days, with occasional exceptions, and if I am to fish, it must only be for food,” he says. “Never for sport."

Stem Cell Therapy

Shatner said yes to an intravenous infusion of stem cells before taking his historic space flight. Although the therapy hasn’t been approved by the FDA, it’s being tested on auto-immune disorders, metabolic diseases, and aging. 

Although it only lasted 10 minutes and 17 seconds, the space flight was demanding. The rocket ship hurtled through space at over 2,000 mph, exerting 5.5 Gs of force on its passengers, making it hard to move or even breathe. 

Shatner came through the physical aspect just fine, but he wasn’t prepared for how emotional the experience would be. "Going into space made me so aware of how fragile our lives are here on Earth, how we need each other, and need to continue to strengthen bonds that connect us to each other,” he says. “Because out there, there is no life. There is no us." 

Boldly Go

That’s not to say that Shatner will quit exploring his limits. He has a mantra for living:
"If you allow yourself to be awed by life, to keep drinking in its limitless knowledge, to keep striving for answers, to enjoy the beauty around us at every moment, to never stagnate … well, then you might find yourself living for a very long time, and, ideally, prospering," says Shatner. "Or, in the absence of the longevity and self-defined prosperity you seek, you might well find meaning, or even better, happiness."

If you’d like to know more about Shatner, check out his homepage for links to his Facebook group, future appearances, blog, store, and fan club.