While I enjoy Star Trek, I wouldn’t consider myself a trekkie. I’ve never seen more than two episodes of Boston Legal. And I’ve never watched TJ Hooker or Rescue 911 without falling asleep. That said, I consider myself a fan of William Shatner.
I recently started reading Shatner’s autobiography Up Till Now. Its a good book-everything is colored by Shatner’s personality. The man has led a fascinating and full life.
I’m finding out all sorts of things I never knew before, such as the fact that Captain Kirk (well, actually William Shatner, but the story sounds better if I use the name of his most famous character) saved Odd Job’s (actually actor Harold Sakata, but see the previoius parenthetical) life while working on the film Impulse. From the book:
Harold was a huge man with no neck, he was just shoulders and a head. In this particular scene he chased me through a car wash and I managed to escape by climbing up onto a roof; when he walked by below me I threw a lasso over him and yanked him up. As he’s being strangled I jump off the roof, hit him serveral times, then escape.
The stunt coordinator rigged Harold with a harness under his shirt which was connected to a steel cable…We practiced it several times, rope, pull, up, looks good. Then we rolled cameras. I dropped the loop over his head and yanked him up. I jumped down to the ground and looked at him dangling three feet in th air, struggling to get loose. He was making terrible choking sounds. Boy, I thought, I hadn’t realized he was such a good actor. He sounds like he’s really choking. I punched him rat-tat-tat in the gut a few times and took off. And as I started running a thought struck me: Wait a second, he’s actually choking…I yelled “Cut! Cut!” and ran back to help him. Harold weighed about three hundred pounds but somehow I managed to lift his body enough to reduce the pressure, enabling him to breathe, and then held him up until they cut him loose.
So if it wasn’t for Shatner’s Kirk-ian quick thinking, Harold Sakata, one of the best things (along with Gert Fröbe and Sean Connery) about Goldfinger, would have died in a cheap action flick.
The book is chock full of other interesting tidbits, one of which has greatly increased my understanding of the song Rocket Man. I’m familiar with Shatner’s musical career. I’ve heard The Transormed Man. I’m a huge fan of Has Been. But I’ve never seen, or heard his earth-shattering rendition of Rocket Man. After watching it, I’m stunned. First of all, I never realized the lyrics went “burning out his fumes up here alone.” I always thought it was just some random nonsense riffing by Elton John. Second, the guy who wrote the song, Bernie Taupin, is also responsible for bringing the world We Built This City. If anyone deserves to be locked in a booth listening to We Built This City for 24 hours straight, it’s him.
And now, for your viewing pleasure, I give you William Shatner’s rendition of Rocket Man: