Star Trek didn't make William Shatner rich, he tells 'crazy' fan

Star says he hasn't received residuals for the original series since the early 1970s.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
2 min read

Portraying Captain Kirk helped make William Shatner famous, but not wealthy, he said.


Playing Captain James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series made actor William Shatner a sci-fi icon. But it didn't make him rich, Shatner said in an exasperated tweet he sent on Wednesday. 

"Oh my goodness, crazy Star Trek fan person: do your research," Shatner scolded. "I don't get residuals for Star Trek --  haven't since the early 70's. After Star Trek I had to go out on the road looking for work to support my 3 daughters. Sorry if you think Star Trek made me rich, it didn't."

The thread began when Shatner responded to a tweet from someone asking which Trek series, other than his own, he liked best. But it turns out that the man behind Kirk isn't as devoted to the science-fiction saga as his fans think he is.

"I don't watch Star Trek," Shatner said. "I don't think I've even seen all the episodes from my series."

Another fan seemed to take that personally, lashing out at the actor and sparking his response about his lack of residuals.

"Seriously? I find that disappointing," the tweet read. "You don't even pay attention to the franchise that brought you fame and fortune? Not seen all of the original series? WOW."

Shatner later said that actors who appeared in post-1974 productions receive permanent residuals. The original Star Trek ran from 1966 to 1969.

But Trek aside, the man knows his other 1970s TV shows. When a fan later accused Shatner of "having a meltdown," he pulled out a GIF of Christine Taylor playing Marcia Brady in the Brady Bunch movie series that spoofed the 1960s-1970s sitcom. In the GIF, Taylor's Marcia witheringly shuts down her hapless middle sister with "Sure, Jan."

Shatner's reaction is reminiscent of the time he hosted Saturday Night Live in 1986. In an iconic sketch, he tells a group of trivia-spouting fans at a Star Trek convention, "Get a life, will you people? I mean, I mean, for crying out loud, it's just a TV show."

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