As anyone who’s watched more than a few episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series can testify, one of the defining characteristics of William Shatner’s Captain James T. Kirk is that the guy never misses a chance for romance, no matter what planet his potential partner is from.
But as Shatner himself angrily points out in a now classic 1986 Saturday Night Live skit, fantasy and reality often don’t meet. So what has the actor’s actual romantic life been like? Is he the same suave ladies’ man we see wooing green-skinned Orion women on the screen?
While in real life William Shatner has never dated any emerald-hued beauties as far as we know, he has tied the knot more often than most. Between 1956 and 2020, Shatner has been married 4 times. Most of his marriages have ended in divorce while his briefest union, tragically, ended in his wife’s death.
Like many actors, William Shatner’s career began not in front of a camera but on the stage. A native Canadian, Shatner joined the Canadian National Repertory Theatre not long after graduating from McGill University and began performing as a classical Shakespearean actor in 1954. Two years later — the same year he made his Broadway debut with Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great — the future Star Trek lead married actress Gloria Rand.
The marriage lasted 13 years and along the way Rand gave birth to three daughters who remain Shatner’s only children: Leslie, Lisabeth, and Melanie. Their union weathered Shatner’s rise to fame with the premiere of Star Trek: The Original Series in 1966. In 1969, the same year the iconic series was cancelled, Shatner and Rand divorced.
William Shatner’s next marriage was once again to an actress. While most of his wives would prove to be performers, Marcy Lafferty — who Shatner married in 1973 — was the only one of Shatner’s spouses to enjoy a long screen acting career, including appearing with her husband on TV and the big screen a number of times. She landed multiple one-offs on her husband’s popular police drama T.J. Hooker, a part in the outrageous 1982 comedy Airplane II: The Sequel, and she even served on the bridge of the Enterprise as Chief DiFalco in 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
While eventually their marriage ended in divorce, William Shatner’s union to Lafferty would survive longer than any before or since. Their divorce was finalized 23 years after their marriage in 1996 — the same year the former Captain Kirk’s short-lived series TekWar premiered on Canadian TV.
As Shatner grew older, the age gaps between himself and his brides grew larger. There were only two years difference between Shatner and Rand. He was 42 when he married Lafferty at 27. In 1997, at the age of 66, Shatner tied the knot with Nerine Kidd, who was 38 at the time. Unfortunately, Kidd didn’t live to see 41.
William Shatner and Kidd married in 1997, and the Star Trek actor would later speak to the National Enquirer (via E Online) saying that his former wife’s “serpent of alcoholism” was what took her from him. The actor described multiple attempts to help her with her disease including medication and two stays in rehab facilities. In fact, Shatner said their marriage happened because Kidd told him it would help beat her addiction.
Shatner filed for divorce from Kidd in 1998, but he told the National Enquirer this was part of a “tough love” strategy suggested by a psychiatrist. They were still together in 1999 and the actor described her regularly sneaking alcohol any way she could get it, including hiding vodka in water bottles. Three days before she died, Shatner told Kidd he was leaving her for good. The night of her death — less than a month after her fortieth birthday — Shatner found Kidd at the bottom of their pool. According to the LA Times, an autopsy determined Kidd dived into the pool, hit her head on the bottom, and lost consciousness. Her blood-alcohol level was 0.27%: over three times the legal driving limit.
In his 2018 memoir Live Long and… What I Learned Along the Way (via Meaww), William Shatner wrote of his horrific period of grief following Kidd’s death, including considering suicide. With a new millennium, however, came a new chance for love. In 2001, at the age of 70 Shatner married the 41 year-old horse trainer Elizabeth Anderson Martin. Sadly, liek the actor’s other marriages, it didn’t last. In December 2019, TMZ broke the news the pair were divorcing after 18 years of marriage.
Now, at the age of 90, William Shatner could very well live out the rest of his life single. But you never know. In 2020 he expressed interesting in re-entering the dating scene, and the former Star Trek actor is finally taking a brief but historic trip into space, which will make him the oldest person ever in space. If you can achieve orbit at a decade shy of 100, what can’t you do?