Shatner: Where No Man...

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Title: Shatner: Where No Man
Creator: Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath
Date(s): 1979
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
Language: English
External Links:

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cover of book

Shatner: Where No Man is a biography of William Shatner who played Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek: The Original Series. Written by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath, with assistance from Carol Frisbie[1], it was published by Ace Books in 1979. It is rumored that Shatner later bought the rights to limit access to this book. [2]

Shatner discussed his acting career and his personal life, and provided many photographs. Leonard Nimoy was included in several of the interviews, and the book emphasizes their camaraderie and good-natured teasing. There is also a chapter dedicated to an interview with Gene Roddenberry.

Marshak and Culbreath worked on this book for several years. At 1976 Star Trek America Bi-Centennial Con, where Shatner was the guest of honor, detailed flyers were passed around promoting the book, along with a questionnaire for fans to contribute their own memories and impressions of how Shatner and Star Trek had affected their lives. (This material can be seen at

flyer for the Bicentennial Convention

Marshak and Culbreath referred to this questionnaire, along with the numerous letters, manuscripts and personal communications they received over the years, as a "years-long study" which "outdrew the Hite Report".[3] Marshak, Culbreath, and Marshak's mother "presented excerpts" from this book at Star Trek America/Star Trek America Atlanta 1978 and Star Trek America/Star Trek America New York City 1978 (February).

They concluded that Shatner, and Captain Kirk, had affected people's lives in a positive manner, allowing greater acceptance of diversity, changes in male-female roles and emotional openness in men. (In the 1970s, women's liberation was considered liberating for men too. Several books discussed how feminism would help men.) They also discuss sexual fantasies, including the then-revolutionary idea that women had them, and anthropological studies on dominant vs. submissive traits in animals and humans.

Marshak and Culbreath were part of an earlier, similar fan survey, one of which resulted in the pro book Star Trek Lives!.

The Pre-Book Questionnaire

See Questionnaire: A Piece of the Action. For Shatner: Where No Man....

[I] have a ‘sneak peek’ flier that was passed around at the time, previewing the new biography of Bill that was still being written at this point. Titled Shatner: Where No Man… . This was Shatner’s first foray into the printed press, and the first of his several autobiographies to plunge into the awesomeness of his legend. The flier promotes the hell out the book, as well as the accompanying LP album William Shatner LIVE, which preserved several of his college appearances. The flier even includes a “questionnaire and interest checklist’ just for Trek fans to aid and assist the authors of the book (Shatner, Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath. The survey really digs with questions about how Trek and especially Shatner affected pop culture and real attitudes, for example:

Do you feel that the way Shatner played Kirk, as a strong man able and willing to express profound emotions, could have had an effect on people’s acceptance of emotional opennness, especially in men?

Wow, that’s pretty deep! But considering at the time that American culture had been through Vietnam and was evolving from an era when men were strong and silent, (like say Don Draper of Mad Men), these were pretty radical questions! I admit, I never read Shatner, Where No Man… but now I may check eBay for a used copy, just to see how they used this info from fans to write the book. [4]

Shatner on Shatner

Shatner described his childhood in Montréal. His family was kind and loving, but he never felt loved, sensing an emptiness. His Jewish faith caused many fights and societal conflicts.[5][6] He was not attracted to girls, attributing this to a sense of unworthiness. At six, he was involved in a play as a Jewish child who escapes the Holocaust, leaving his dog behind. The approval and affection he received for having performed well led him to study dramatics, viewed as "weird" by others. He repeatedly referred to the classic cartoon showing a boy teased or maligned for "carrying a violin case".[7] Partly as a reaction, he took up strenuous athletics and "macho" sports.

Shatner on his Career

He described early successes in theater, film and television, not just as an actor but as a writer and producer, long before Star Trek. His wife Gloria divorced him during Star Trek and took everything. Literally destitute, he had a walking nervous breakdown. Typecasting as Captain Kirk limited his ability to find work. He rebuilt his life and career with the help of his second wife, Marcy.

Shatner on Kirk

Shatner stated unequivocally "I am Kirk," probably a reference to I Am Not Spock. He would not let Kirk do anything he wouldn't or couldn't do himself. He speaks about Kirk's willingness to express feelings openly as key to his character as well as true to Shatner's own nature. Nimoy and other Star Trek actors are asked "How much of Shatner is in Kirk, and how much of Kirk is in Shatner?" with various answers. They speak about ways in which he helped and supported them during filming. Shatner went into detail about the humiliation scenes in "Plato's Stepchildren," talking about the care that went into ensuring his performance would be serious.

Shatner on Trek

Shatner talks about Star Trek as "a dream, a joy, a delight, a challenge, a memory -- an angel, a wench, a witch." It was a unique show and large parts of it, including many aspects of Captain Kirk's character, had to be made up as they went along. What was planned from the beginning was a high standard which was built into it by "the studio heads, Herb Solow, Gene Roddenberry certainly, Gene Coon by leaps and bounds -- far above anybody else,"[8] and then goes on to name continuity editors John D.F. Black and Dorothy Fontana, and their insertion of underlying themes and thoughtful material that gave the show an additional dimension than if it had been just entertainment. He believes Star Trek introduced sociological and cultural ideas that were far ahead of their time.

He speaks about trying to make the crew seem more relaxed and familiar with each other than they had been in "The Cage". He also mentions aspects of the show which would decrease the challenges faced by Kirk and crew. One was the Enterprise:

Like you had to get rid of the ship. The ship was always being immobilized so we could get into jeopardy. Otherwise the ship could beam us up, fire its cannon, send down a platoon, or whatever -- so the whole guise of the stories became -- get rid of the ship...

The other was Spock. Numerous times, Spock had displayed physical strength and mental powers (many devised by Nimoy himself) that "kept giving more invincibility" to his character:

Well, if Spock could do that in one show, then in order to keep the continuity, you had to get rid of him -- in order to have any jeopardy... Well, Spock got so powerful that to have him along was like having the ship along. You had to get rid of Spock. So you'll find many shows where Spock gets (he makes a 'thwonk' sound, with illustrations) on the head. Okay, that disposes of that. And now we can get some threat into it. You see? And I kept saying -- at least, I think I kept saying, "What are you doing? Why is Spock made so invincible? It's detrimental to everybody. Except me -- 'cause I have to fight everybody and rescue people."

Asked if he missed Spock when he had to be written out of scenes, Shatner stated "Does a captain miss his starship? But -- no. You know, along would come a pretty girl and off I'd go. Sure. It was a nice change. Although -- the captain always comes back to his ship."

Marshak and Culbreath once more bring the topic around to the sexual ideas and kinks present in some of the fan fiction, and ask if Shatner is aroused by any of them, particularly about being controlled by a much stronger woman. He says he is not turned off by them.[9]

Gene Roddenberry on Shatner, & Kirk

Entire chapter online at deviantart and archived at WebCite.

Roddenberry was interviewed the week after the announcement of Star Trek: Phase II, the originally planned television series. Marshak and Culbreath began by asking him a series of questions about the Kirk-Spock friendship, particularly in the context of Mary Renault's novels about Alexander the Great. Renault depicted Alexander's homosexual love with his close friend Hephaistion, and later with the Persian eunuch-courtesan Bagoas, in a romantic and sensitive style. Shatner had played Alexander in a 1968 TV-movie, and both he and Roddenberry described themselves as fans of the historical Alexander.

Asked if he saw the Kirk-Spock friendship as "two halves which come together to make a whole", Gene replied:

Oh, yes. As I've said, I definitely designed it as a love relationship. I think that's what we're all about -- love, the effort to reach out to each other. I think that's a lovely thing. Also, dramatically, I designed Kirk and Spock to complete each other, and in fact the Kirk, Spock, McCoy triad to be the dramatic embodiment of the parts of one person: logic, emotion, and the balance between them. You cannot have an internal monologue on screen, so that is a way of personifying it, getting it out where it can be seen -- that internal debate which we all have within. And I designed Kirk and Spock, as I told you, as dream images of myself, the two halves. But in terms of the characters, yes. That closeness. Absolutely.[10]

Roddenberry further revealed that he had cast Shatner as Kirk partly on the basis of his performance as Alexander.

Marshak and Culbreath: "There's a great deal of writing in the Star Trek movement now which compares the relationship between Alexander and Hephaistion to the relationship between Kirk and Spock -- focusing on the closeness of the friendship, the feeling that they would die for one another --"

Roddenberry: "Yes, there's certainly some of that, certainly with love overtones. Deep love. The only difference being, the Greek ideal... we never suggested in the series... physical love between the two. But it's the... we[note 1] certainly had the feeling that the affection was sufficient for that, if that were the particular style of the 23rd century." (He looks thoughtful.) "That's very interesting. I never thought of that before."[11]

Turning to the ubiquitous theme of Star Trek sexual fantasies, Marshak and Culbreath asked Roddenberry how he viewed them, particularly the idea from "Turnabout Intruder" of a man's psyche trapped in a woman's body.

"We've been following the studies lately[12] which say that almost everybody has these reversal thoughts. Remember when we discussed for the book that the top male fantasy is to rape, and the second top is to be raped? With women it's the exact opposite. Top is to be raped, second top is to rape. Now, what do you think is going on there? What is the source of the profound sexual impact of Star Trek?[13]

Gene's response:

"That's very interesting. I suppose it would be interesting for me to go back through those Star Trek stories and work out how many of them would be -- in the initial storyline scripts, something that I could see in fantasies, in my own self. It may be that I have very healthy sexual fantasies." He chuckles, looks at Bill, deviling, "I don't remember Bill objecting to playing any of them, either."

Bill laughs, giving as good as he gets. "Rapee or rapor?" "Rapier," Gene says.


Gene gives his best look of Vulcan innocence. "A long steel rod --"

"How about rapiest?"

They break up, these two having a moment of looking like schoolboys up to no good.[14]

The discussion continues along these lines, Roddenberry observing that in "the straight magazines... they almost always destroy the woman who turns to Mr. Spock," and that "what women want is an alpha male" to actualize their own dominant and powerful natures. He also admits that many sexist elements "slipped through" in his own work as he struggled to express a future of male-female equality.

Nimoy and Shatner

Entire chapter online at and archived at WebCite.

The authors interviewed Nimoy together with Shatner at "The Captain's Table", a restaurant that Nimoy chose as a joke. While the two actors definitely possess an intuitive, creative "spark" between them, which Nimoy calls "reaching", Nimoy disagrees that Kirk and Spock couldn't live without each other:

I don't really see Kirk as needing -- in a functional sense -- as needing Spock. In other words, I don't think Kirk is incomplete without Spock. . . I think Spock needs an environment within which to function, to make himself useful.[15] Kirk is an initiator of action. And therefore, if there's a need either way, I would say that Spock needs to have the initiator in order to be useful in the project that the initiator initiates. I think that Kirk needs a science officer, but not necessarily Spock. He needs a good science officer, to run the ship.

However, Nimoy also points out that the scene most indicative of their relationship is the exchange "Live long, and prosper, Spock." - "I shall do neither, I have killed my Captain -- and my friend", from Amok Time. The authors state that this line above all others stands "for the essence of the Kirk-Spock relationship in the minds of the people who love it."

Nimoy said he'd been uncomfortable with the sadism in "Plato's Stepchildren", dismissing it as a third-season script and saying the theme of pushing everyone beyond their limits had already been done much more effectively in "The Naked Time". He refused to speculate on the sexual obsessions suggested by the authors, merely stating that he and Shatner must have done something they were unaware of which caused fans to respond with such ideas:

What I find interesting about this... is that there must have been something that we did in the series that provokes all these questions -- including the erotic questions and the pornographic questions. I understand that there's a whole underground literature of Kirk's and Spock's encounters with all kinds of females.[16] In terms of your questions -- what you saw was what we did. That's the best answer I can give you.

As for "Turnabout Intruder," Nimoy said he was much more aware of its message that women cannot do all that men do -- a sentiment with which he disagreed strongly while the script was in production:

"What is easier for me to deal with on that particular script is the knowledge that the writer was making a script in which his goal was to prove, quote, 'That women, although they claim equality, cannot really do things as well as, under certain circumstances, as a man -- like the command function, for example. And it was a rather chauvinistic, clumsy handling of an interesting question. What he set out to prove was that this lady, given command of the ship, would blow it. That’s really what the script was about. Just that simple. You see."

"Yeah," Bill agrees. “The problems were solved without really --"

Leonard cuts in, nodding. "That’s, what I was dealing with when we were shooting that show -- the knowledge that that was the concept. And I rebelled against the concept. I was uncomfortable doing the whole show because I didn’t believe in the concept."

Marshak adds that the episode "loads the dice" by making the woman mentally unstable instead of showing a rational female in command.

Shatner on "Savagery"

Shatner discusses primal instincts, the "wolf" and "lamb" sides of Kirk from "The Enemy Within", and some of his acting nuances which he took from descriptions of animal behavior. He speaks about having felt primal rage toward a bullying fellow actor early in his career, but controlled the instinct to attack. The authors examine the messages of Star Trek in light of research done by Canadian anthropologist Lionel Tiger, whom they incorrectly identify as British. In his book Men in Groups,[17] Tiger discusses the purposes of male bonding (a phrase he invented) and male stoicism in establishing "alpha male" dominance ranking and access to fertile females. The authors speculate that if Shatner as Kirk projects the sense that he is an alpha male, but at the same time sets an example of emotional openness, he and Star Trek may influence American culture toward a time when emotional expression by males will be accepted.

Shatner on Women and Feminism

Shatner and the authors discuss the changes that the Women's Liberation Movement have brought to everyday American culture. This is where people began questioning practices such as referring to women under thirty as "girls", saying "baby" for a loved one, etc.[18] They bring up the sexism implied in "where no man has gone before." Another subject is inappropriately affectionate gestures with women other than a romantic partner, such as taking her chin in your hand and lifting her face up (which Shatner did with Marshak, and which Marshak found "extremely alpha")[19]. Shatner confesses that he once went up to a male ambassador from India[20] and pinched his cheek as you would a toddler, saying his cheeks were "just chuckulamumula" and remembering him "just staring -- the little brown eyes."[21]

The authors digress into the types of women portrayed on the show who were attracted to Kirk or whom he found attractive. The women were extremely diverse as to personality type, and love and romance were portrayed in a wide variety of ways. This apparently inspired fan authors to create fantasies "spun off" from the "catalog of Kirk's women". The authors claimed that most of these stories "should come in a plain brown wrapper and frequently do, usually to our mailbox".[22] Meanwhile, they observed that men seemed to view Kirk as a kind of role model whose more admirable qualities, including his emotional openness, can be emulated. As Tarzan embodied a male archetype, the authors felt that Kirk was rapidly becoming one also.

Shatner and Marcy

The authors meet Marcy Shatner for the first time in a lengthy, worshipful chapter transcribing a rambling conversation about their relationship. Marcy Lafferty, the daughter of longtime CBS programming manager Perry Lafferty (misnamed "Percy" in the book), had been an actress and dancer before marrying Shatner. She met him when she was a production assistant (script girl) on The Andersonville Trial. Many fans probably remember her as Chief Navigator DiFalco, who replaces Lt. Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.[23]

Among other things, we learn that Marci has got Shat on a vegetarian diet eliminating all white flour and sugar.[24] They discuss her influence on his life and career, veering off into sexual "conquest" and male-female interactions in terms of biology vs. society.

The authors speculate that as feminism helps men to discard the idea that emotional openness is wrong for men, it will also help women to discard the "Chameleon Effect". Women are allowed to be emotional as long as they do not make waves, as long as they are whatever the people around them want them to be. Shatner and Marci evince "electric interest" in this idea, and Shat speculates on a story about a "chameleon woman" who could become anything a man desired. If she tried to behave as herself, the man would hate her because he wanted the fantasy. [25]

The authors listen to the album The Transformed Man, consisting of recitations and spoken song lyrics, and conclude that there are "fourteen men on that album, and every one of them is [Shatner]."

Shatner and the Future

Shatner is last seen working on Star Trek: The Motion Picture and planning a new stage show called Star Traveller. Originally meant to be a one-man dramatic show like his An Evening with William Shatner, he's expanding the idea into a multimedia extravaganza.[26][27]

The authors wax lyrical about the rollout of the prototype space shuttle Enterprise. Star Trek fans have always credited their letter campaign with President Ford's request that the shuttle's name be changed from Constitution, and the entire cast were present with Roddenberry at the rollout.[28] They enumerate several television shows that present visions of hope and progress, such as Roots, or the now-forgotten 1978 miniseries Holocaust. Institutions such as segregation, which seemed "carved in stone" at the beginning of the 1960s, are described as "gone", and the authors describe "Uhura's contemporary counterpart" as an unnamed news anchor in Huntsville, Alabama, apparently the first black woman to have her own TV talk show.[29]

Meanwhile, science fiction writers comment on Star Trek's, and Kirk's, impact on Western society. Robert Heinlein says "Star Trekkers alone can make the difference between a future in which we sink to a new dark age, and one in which we go upward, outward, to the stars."

Most fans probably do not remember that the prestigious SF author Theodore Sturgeon, who wrote the story outlines that became "Shore Leave" and "Amok Time", actually moved to California and began working on his scripts in the Star Trek offices when the show began. He speaks of being allowed to go everywhere on the set, to follow the actors so he could write their lines based on how they spoke in daily life. While he felt there wasn't much originality in the concept of Kirk, he thought that as the show went along Shatner began to invest the character with personal qualities that made him more dynamic and less of a stereotype. Sturgeon's comments about the actors, rarely if ever cited, should be of interest to today's fans:

Do you know that he -- that all of them -- got so far into their characters that they would speak their own lines? In "Amok Time", for example in the last scene where the doctor was so pleased to see the flash of humanity in Spock, where Spock suddenly came up with this brilliant smile and said "Jim!" when he saw Kirk alive and had thought he was dead -- and then was still denying having any emotional reaction at all, and Dr. McCoy said "In a pig's eye!" -- that was De. [DeForest Kelly] De put that in his very own self. They all did that from time to time. Bill certainly did. And when it worked, they let it stand, because that was one of the things the show had going for it.

Plus Bill would fight for any change he thought was needed.

And the combination of that plus the generally very good level of writing, plus the unheard-of themes we've been talking about -- it's never been done, before or since.

I think you're right that Bill created that emotional effect, and it hadn't been done before.

It was him. He made the role.

And also -- I don't think anybody's written roles since that would give him the scope to do that.

And these words, from Arlene Martel, who played T'Pring:

I don't think Bill has had a role yet where his own essence has been able to emerge. The roles have relied on his equipment as an actor -- his voice, his movement, his skills, his intelligence -- but not on his sensitivity, his sexuality.

Star Trek touched on it. But only touched.

I feel him trying to reach beyond what he is given, to give it a value which is beyond what it has. He should -- no, not he should -- they should have to be writing the things that have value in order for him to be in them.

I don't think that has been done. The parts which would have tapped the whole range of William Shatner have not been written.

Among other observations by actors and critics, the last pages contain an anecdote from Jesco von Puttkamer, at that time NASA's program manager, who'd been a technical advisor on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Speaking about being interviewed for the 1976 television series Mysteries of the Gods (see it here), von Puttkamer said:

"You have to be very tight, you know, for the interview, for the close-ups -- very close together -- nose to nose. We had been working on it and I was not used to it. I was a little stiff or something. He wanted me to loosen up.

"All of a sudden Bill leaned forward and he kissed me!"[30]

Marshak and Culbreath on "Where No Man..."

Marshak and Culbreath could benefit from a strong editor. Their writing has good ideas, but it is terribly undisciplined — self-indulgent perhaps is the word for it. At a con once, S&M told us they'd produced a draft for SHATNER: WHERE NO MAN that came to 800 pages!! And they said that was after they'd cut out everything that possibly could be cut out (or so it seemed to them). [31]

Fan Response


Marshak & Culbreath have seen fit to add their own comments at every opportunity and it's hard to take seriously a book which has comments in it like 'that slim look of an apprentice angel' and ... is forever making references to his anatomy. I mean, M & C's tone is positively adulatory, which, if you're doing a biography of someone, is the wrong line to take.... That's another thing that annoys me about their book (I hesitate to call it his book, that to me is insulting). One begins to. wonder if it is Shatner's biography. M & C are obviously more interested in the character of Kirk and how it and Star Trek as a whole relate to changes in the sexual and social roles of male and female in society over the past decade. Don't get me wrong -- I think it's an interesting study... but quite honestly it should not figure so largely in a book which is meant to be primarily about Shatner... It is fairly obvious (and has been from their fiction writing) that M & C are obsessed with the 'dominant woman' theme in the social revolution that has taken/is taking/will take place and they really go to town with it. (Sorry, but this book really makes me see red.) On top of the whole mish-mash, it's very badly written. [32]

We are all older now, and hopefully wiser [than when we first became fans of Star Trek in the 1960s]. There is litter on the moon -- golf balls and an overgrown dune buggy; the Voyagers float out into interstellar space carrying our calling card to the universe; and the Enterprise is reborn [in Star Trek: The Motion Picture], along with her crew. But many years have intervened, and we should have learned as we grew that fictional heroes rise bigger-than-life and fictional villains are evil incarnate, but real people are seldom saints or demons.

Some of haven't.

I am referring to the authors of the alleged 'biography' Shatner: Where No Man... Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath have been around for a long time, and are several times professionally published Trek writers.

You'd never know it from this book.

A biographer's job is not an easy one, to take dry factual material on a person's life and turn it into an interesting tale, to furnish the reader with enough new material on usually well-dredged territory to make the investment - of their time and our money worthwhile. And the task is even harder when faced with a living subject, whose history is a work-in-progress, so to speak, and whose story has not yet reached its denouement; but the task can he done, as Damon Knight's The Futarians, for one, aptly demonstrates. Add to this the expectations and hopes of several thousand Trekfen, and the endeavor reaches phenomenal proportions.

Where No Man... is an unqualified disappointment. I doubt if any life in Trekdom has been as much-discussed and deeply analyzed as William Shatner's. But biography, even semi—auto biography (if we can believe the byline), is more than a parade of personal trials and private turmoil. For one thing, a point which is made in this book by at least two of the interviewees (between ellipses), he is not James T. Kirk. He's an actor, ladies — of that you seem to have lost track. He contains the germ of the Captain, or else he would not have been able to breathe life into a paper character, but William Shatner the man (according to several of the co-workers quoted in this work) is much more than a mirror of a fictional twenty-third century starship commander, or an eighteenth-century seafarer, if one goes back to Kirk's roots. Consistently, the testimony comes down, that Shatner is multifaceted, that his talent knows neither era nor age. Marshak and Culbreath nowhere even attempt to summarize his credits, and this of a man once touted as the successor of Lord Olivier!

Instead, we are entertained again and again to the Long Sad Story of the Private Hell of This Great Man, a soap opera digest to rival The Lives of the Saints. I sympathize; I, too, have been through a messy divorce, but I should think that even writers, who purport, to be friends, would have the good taste, not to mention mercy, to denouement it simply and then put it aside. It does not effect my work, and I think it should not affect his, except, perhaps to give it more dimension.

The overall impression given by this series of interviews —— I REFUSE to call it a biography — is that Marshak and Culbreath were looking for stories for the Midnight Star or the National Enquirer or alternatively were looking for documentation preliminary to presentation of the man's case to the Vatican for canonization!

In fact, in one place, the hook describes Shatner in glowing terms simply because he was ready to go on as an understudy in Henry V — as if that were not what he was being paid for. They insult their readers' intelligence by showing either complete naivete or total ignorance of the theatre.

And then there's Captain Kirk. This book dwells on him as if he were the subject. Indeed, the back cover has his name below Shatner's, like the denominator of some mystic fraction, or the face of a flat-lying mirror. No, and again not! They are NOT synonymous, and I think that even James T. would be aghast and embarrassed to be portrayed in such images. All the adjectives are in the superlative, and all the metaphors the size of Acropolean statuary.

I won't catalog all of this book's shortcomings; it does that admirably by itself. Don't waste your money, not even for the pictures. They should have hired a professional photographer and a ghost writer, come to think of it.

So come on, Sondra, Myrna, click your ruby slippers together and come back down. Write us a biography, not a mythology. [33]


"I recently had the misfortune to purchase the authorised biography of William Shatner by the enfants terribles of Trekdom: Marshak and Culbreath. I felt even more uncomfortable when I read it -- but I DID read it, every single excruciating word. Right down to the end. I swear. This book should have been subtitled, 'An Ego-Trip by M & C.' (Why don't they ever work separately? Are they artistic Siamese twins?) My Stand (in case you haven't already guessed it): I've read the three ST novels by these two Persons (don't let sex confuse the issue) and I approached this 'straight' work with trepidation: surely it couldn't be as BAD as their fiction? Well, it was. It was worse. It was... Appalling... These two Persons clearly have a repressed fantasy life which they are doing their best to work out of their systems -- all over the innocent public. [34] The article goes on to call Culbreath and Marshak a "couple of Janice Lesters: "They dislike their own femininity, can see no advantage to it, deny the possibilities it presents, are not prepared to enjoy what they cannot change..." Thompson also feels the pair display too much overwrought emotion: "M & C have embraced the cause of 'emotional openness'... God save us from their version of it. Only children of very few years have no control over their feelings and the expression of them..." She ties it into Marshak and Culbreath's questioning male stoicism.
Re Shatner and Nimoy on K/S - I have heard nothing about Nimoy's attitude, but I have information from Carol Frisbie about what happened when Shatner saw K/S materials while she was working with Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath on Shatner's bio, WHERE NO MAN. His reaction was more or less positive. Also see WHERE NO MAN for a rather extraordinary pro-K/S statement from Gene Roddenberry.[10][11] Beware Great Bird. Roddenberry speaks [about K/S] wIth forked tongue. [35]


Keep that book close to you. [Shatner] bought the rights and all outstanding copies. He destroyed all copies of the book and deep sixed the rights. You'll never see that book reprinted again.[36]
It is a very flattering portrait of him -- hell, you can see the authors drooling. They also manage to lead the conversation in some intriguing ways. I may have a quibble about their skills as biographers (they weren't at all shy about displaying their own agenda), but I can't fault what they got out of him.

Does anyone know why Shatner tried to buy up and destroy all the copies of this book? I have my theories, but if someone has actually heard something reliable, step right up to the microphone.

I found a lot of wonderful ideas and intriguing thoughts in this book. And the pictures--Well! Waiter, just pour the pitcher of ice tea over my head. [37]
Re: Shatner's biography. If there are any still out there, Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath's novels might be of interest to you-- hint: their

"agenda" oozes throughout their writing, and is so heavy handed that it becomes difficult to read. (I'm referring to the Phoenix novels). I tried to re-read it again recently (my 6th time now?) but find other fan writing much more desireable [sic]. (Thanks K/Sers!) They were on the verge of K/S (or maybe they were "there" all along, but the publishers put a leash on them)[38], and you can see some of this referenced in the biography, particularly in the chapter when Leonard Nimoy meets them for lunch and the "sparks" fly.

I read it years ago, and I imagine that Shatner's desire to destroy all copies is that he seems to be so insecure about himself. (Then why the album? Only the Great Bird knows.) I know that in a recent guest appearance on a talk show he complained about how he hated the way he looked.[39]


This book is horribly written, and that includes everything--the writing style, the grammatical style, the content, even the corniness, such as the cuteness of Shatner's butt is mentioned fifteen to many times,[40] and so on. It's so bad that even after much effort and perseverance, I had to put it down. It's not worth the agony it creates... If you think Shatner is an interesting person and want to learn more about him, be kind to yourself and find another source. [41]
Bought and read the book myself when it first came out (What can I say? I was a young Trekker), but now recall very little beyond Marshak and Culbreath breathlessly worshipping Shatner on every.single.frackin'.page. The POW story may have been there, but I now draw a blank on most of M&C's writing. Probably a good thing - in retrospect, that pair was both stalker-scary AND incredibly boring. Recall reading someplace that, just a few years later, Shatner bought out all rights to that particular book and, basically, "killed" it. Suggesting (perhaps) that even HE was embarassed. [42]


While Shatner seemed to be basking in this attempt at immortality via a biography that actually told you very little about the man himself - only alluding to his supposed sexual prowess[43] and being an excellent example on how some fawn over him - Marshak and Culbreath did a fine job of totally failing to invent a sexual legend with their overly shallow attempt at Californian sexual pseudo-psychobabble. The book is so awful, it is worthy of cult status I guess, and a must for all those collectors of pulp trash and literary oddities. It nearly killed my appreciation for the actor back in 1979, but Shatner's own descent in to shallowness finally euthinazed any respect I had for his work, and for the man himself back in the late '80's. Apart from a couple of Star Trek novels back in the late seventies, we have been blessed with the beaming up and dissappearance of Marshak and Culbreath since then. But yet, if you do come across a tattered copy going for 50c in a garage sale somewhere, buy it. It'll be worth the giggle at least. [44]
This book isn't as bad as others are making it out to be...but, that doesn't mean that the book doesn't have it's [sic] flaws.

First, the book isn't really an autobiography since Shatner did little, if any, actual writing. The book is mostly filled with quotes of him taken from either direct interviews or from his own personal tapings. To that end, it's really just transcripts of him talking. That isn't necessarily a bad thing--he has some very insightful things to say, but for those looking for a "First I was born, then I did this, and then I did this..." kind of thing, then you won't find it here.

Second, the authors seem to take an inordinantly long time to actually say anything. Then, when they do, it's really just a rehashed version of something they already said. The portions of the book in which Shatner actually speak are jewels that define the legend of Shatner. Unfortunately, the authors didn't include nearly enough from the man himself. Was this a book about Shatner, or about how much the authors actually like to write?

Lastly, the reviewers who write about him spouting off about his sexual prowess, among other things, must have read another book. I almost DIDN'T buy the book because of the bad reviews, but I'm glad I didn't listen to those folks. I didn't find that Shatner was anything like the chauvanist [sic] others have implied. Shatner comes across as eloquent, charming, and funny. [45]


This was Shatner’s first foray into the printed press, and the first of his several autobiographies to plunge into the awesomeness of his legend. The flier promotes the hell out the book, as well as the accompanying LP album William Shatner LIVE, which preserved several of his college appearances. The flier even includes a "questionnaire and interest checklist" just for Trek fans to aid and assist the authors of the book (Shatner, Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath. The survey really digs with questions about how Trek and especially Shatner affected pop culture and real attitudes, for example:

Do you feel that the way Shatner played Kirk, as a strong man able and willing to express profound emotions, could have had an effect on people’s acceptance of emotional opennness, especially in men?

Wow, that’s pretty deep! But considering at the time that American culture had been through Vietnam and was evolving from an era when men were strong and silent (like say Don Draper of Mad Men), these were pretty radical questions! I admit, I never read Shatner, Where No Man... but now I may check eBay for a used copy, just to see how they used this info from fans to write the book.[46]


  1. ^ It would be interesting to find out who "we" is,or if this was more of Roddenberry's known tendency to tell interviewers and co-workers what they wanted to hear, cited by Robert Justman in his book Inside Star Trek, The Real Story. Note he follows this up with "I never thought of that before."


  1. ^ according to fan contributor "LF" in K/S & K.S. (Kindred Spirits) 11
  2. ^ "Keep that book close to you. Shatner bought the rights and all outstanding copies. He destroyed all copies of the book and deep sixed the rights. You'll never see that book reprinted again." -- comments by Jay P. Hailey at alt.startrek.creative › Kirk/Spock question (February 21, 1998)
  3. ^ The Hite Report on Female Sexuality, begun by Shere Hite in 1972 and first published in 1976, had 3,019 women of all ages responding to an anonymous questionnaire with 58 questions. Marshak and Culbreath's 13-item questionnaire, first distributed in 1976, would have received 3,020+ responses.
  4. ^ The Daily Scrapbook11/16/12 1976, a preview of Shatner’s First Biography, “Questionnaire and Interest Checklist”, November 16, 2012
  5. ^ "Fights, every day, with one or more kids my size or bigger. Somebody recently showed me a high school graduation book. There I was -- a nice-looking boy -- and my nickname was 'Toughie' because I was always fighting and being attacked. Kids would all crowd around, yelling, 'Fight! Fight! Fight!'... The university I went to had a quota. How I made it through the quota, I don’t know... there was a limit to the number of Jewish kids who could go to that university, no matter how qualified they were." Benjamin Law, Dicey Topics: William Shatner talks money, religion and bodies. Sydney Morning Herald, October 6, 2018.
  6. ^ Being an English-speaking Jew in Québec must have been nightmarish at times. Most of the rural areas outside the city of Montréal are strongly ethnic French and anti-Semitic. While most are no longer Catholic, "these communities, especially the pure French, are especially hostile to Canadians, English-speakers, ethnic minorities and immigrants of any kind, and especially Jews. Jacques Parizeau, in his concession speech when his separatist party lost the second referendum vote (50.5% to 49.5%), made a speech that made Enoch Powell and George Wallace look like Barack Obama, screaming and spitting into the microphone blaming what the translators called "ethnics and money." But I knew enough French that I could actually make out that the Premier of Quebec was on national television ranting about the niggers and the kikes. These are the people who wholeheartedly endorse the current Québec government's "Values Charter" proposal that, if implemented, would practically eject all Muslims, Sikhs, and Jews from Québec's public service sector, including health care.
    "Growing up a Jew in Montréal in the 1940s and 50s, Shatner, I think, would have known where he was and was not welcome in Québec. It's not like no one ever took vacations on canoe trips in the forests, but Montréalers don't usually spend much time outside the city unless they go to English Canada or travel internationally. In Québec, the rural areas aren't associated with enlightenment or open thinking, but with insularity and racism." - Adam Riggio, commenting in Josh Marsfelder's blog entry Sensor Scan: The Transformed Man, review of Shatner's album that came out around the time of this book. Vaka Rangi, September 30, 2013. WebCite.
  7. ^ No joke. At fifteen, Bob Kane, the creator of Batman, was viciously beaten by a street gang who had discovered him walking home with a violin case and told him only "girls" studied music. His arm was badly broken and he never fully recovered.
  8. ^ As time goes on and people feel more comfortable speaking up, Gene Coon's role as a prime Star Trek creator has become more visible. In the book Trek Classic, David Gerrold said that it was Coon, not Roddenberry, who really made the show what it was: "Gene L. Coon came in early in the first season and pulled it together, and he stayed there until more than halfway through the second season. If you look at the episodes in sequence, you can see that the best episodes are the ones where Gene Coon’s hands were at the tiller. Gene Coon made the show work, very, very strongly."
  9. ^ At around the same time these interviews were taking place, Shat was interviewed on WNEW's Midday Live, hosted by Bill Boggs. Asked "What do you think about this trend in fandom, where Kirk and Spock are more than friends?" Shatner replied: "Well, they're gay, what do you think?" He followed that up with "There's this sociological thing in the U.S., people are uptight about homosexuality. The fact that two men are close to each other can invite speculation that they are more than just friends."
  10. ^ a b Page 145.
  11. ^ a b Page 148.
  12. ^ Possibly a reference to the Kinsey or Hite reports.
  13. ^ Yes, it really does say this, p. 150.
  14. ^ It doesn't stop there. This chapter has to be read to be believed.
  15. ^ See Spock: Teenage Outcast for Nimoy's take on Spock as defining himself by his usefulness to others.
  16. ^ Nimoy's extreme reserve is at work here, or he is thinking of the very earliest fanworks. This interview was done in the late 1970s, when erotic stories involving women had become very rare.
  17. ^ Lionel Tiger, Men in Groups. Transaction, 1969. This book's premises have been discredited for many years. Michael Kimmel's book Misframing Men (Rutgers, 2010) discusses Tiger's work in terms of "recycling 1950s functionalism into normative policy analysis" and detracting women and feminism as causing the decline of masculinity. In many ways, Tiger's ideas on the need for male refuges where women are excluded appear to prefigure those of John Grey. The "alpha male" is far from an established scientific fact. The term was coined by Rudolph Shenkel, who was studying wolves in captivity. David Mech mistakenly referenced Shenkel's work before studying wild wolves and discovering that stereotypical commanding, dominating, self-serving behavior we think of as "alpha" only occurred with wolves in captivity, confined and terrified. Mech has worked for years to remove the "alpha male" myth from popular culture.
  18. ^ At least baby is used by both men and women. The more odious "little girl" is still with us in songs.
  19. ^ In her story "The Procrustean Petard", Marshak has Klingon commander Kang do this to James Kirk after he's been turned into a petite, helpless female by an alien sex change machine.
  20. ^ This may have been Braj Kumar Nehru.
  21. ^ Marshak's response? "Somebody should have filmed that."
  22. ^ Perhaps Marshak and Culbreath planned a third New Voyages with the best of the X-rated stories. However, by 1979, stories involving either Kirk or Spock with women were largely passé.
  23. ^ Shatner and Marcy divorced in 1996. He married Nerine Kidd in 1997. In 1999 she drowned in the family swimming pool, and Shatner revealed she'd been an alcoholic, confirmed by Leonard Nimoy, himself an alcoholic, who took her to AA meetings. Shatner married Elizabeth Martin in 2001.
  24. ^ The idea of "whole grains", now found in every grocery store, originated with Americanized versions of the Asian macrobiotic diet first introduced to westerners through the writings of George Ohsawa in his 1965 book You Are All Sanpaku (basically, an imbalance of elements in the body) and subsequently popularized by Beats and hippies. Ohsawa wrote several books about macrobiotic nutrition. Buddhist poet and social critic Gary Snyder and hippie author-inventor Stewart Brand were probably the first Americans to write extensively about the benefits of macrobiotic food. Some musicians and actors tried it, giving it more publicity. See Brand's The Whole Earth Catalogue and Alicia Bay Laurel's Living on the Earth for more examples.
  25. ^ See the TNG episode "The Perfect Mate", featuring an "empathic metamorph".
  26. ^ These one-man shows were not always well-received by fans. Writing on eBay in 2017 concerning the sale of a poster announcing Leonard Nimoy's "Spock & I" appearance at the Crouse-Hinds theater in Syracuse, NY, eBay seller mark_dq of The Cazenovia Collection had this to say: "At the time of Mr. Nimoy's lecture at the Crouse-Hinds theatre, Syracuse Star Trek fans were still fuming from an appearance on the exact same stage only a few months previously of WILLIAM SHATNER! You see, Shatner's lecture was billed by the Cinephile Society as "The Star Trek Show" and advertised with pictures of Captain Kirk and a BONUS SCREENING of a 16mm print of the original pilot episode "The Cage," which at that time was not readily available for viewing by the public. Well Shatner showed up, did a bunch of pompous dramatic readings that had nothing to do with Star Trek, science fiction, or space travel; answered a few questions till someone asked about "The Cage." Shatner mumbled some excuse about not being able to get the print and high tailed it out of central New York. Disgruntled ticket buyers complained so loudly that many months later, partial refunds for ticket stubs were offered." From The Cazenovia Collection on eBay, 1978 Original LEONARD NIMOY "SPOCK AND I" Lecture Tour Flier Poster Syracuse, NY, page found 2017-07-20; WebCite
  27. ^ Shatner still does these one-man shows. His latest, in 2014, is called Shatner's World: We Just Live In It.
  28. ^ Given the tragedies which followed, it's a good thing this Enterprise never actually went into space.
  29. ^ It is difficult to find a reference to this news anchor. There were many black women in broadcasting in the late 1970s. Today, we might speak of astronaut Mae Jemison as Uhura's counterpart.
  30. ^ According to DeForest Kelley in interviews quoted on DeKelleyFans Shatner frequently did this as a gag.
  31. ^ from K/S & K.S. (Kindred Spirits) #7 (January 1984)
  32. ^ Star Trek Action Group 40, dated April 1980.
  33. ^ by Jani Hicks in ReVisions #4
  34. ^ from Voyager 5, March 1984, "In Character" by Patricia Thompson begins with her reaction to the book
  35. ^ from K/S & K.S. (Kindred Spirits) #11
  36. ^ JayPHailey, writing in a discussion on alt.startrek.creative dated Feb. 21, 1998, Kirk/Spock Question which began with CWilson980's inquiry, "I've heard from several sources that Gene Rodenberry said that he believed in this pairing...Can somebody tell me where/when he said this???"
  37. ^ review from a 1998 Shore Leave convention report, Jungle Kitty, Shore Leave Report-LONG and all TOS-oriented, July 17, 1998.
  38. ^ A fan wrote in 2013: "It's my understanding that blackmarket K/S "bonus chapters" for all four of their ST novels were available in the "slash" fanfic circles." This came from Therin of Andor, writing on a thread discussing Marshak & Culbreath on TrekBBS, April 25, 2013. He made the same claim three years earlier in this thread about The Price of the Phoenix. David Gerrold confirms the existence of one such chapter in The Price of the Phoenix, in his Facebook post "Just for the record, I always assumed Sulu was gay", dated July 8, 2016.
  39. ^ Susie Bowers, Re: ASCEML - Shore Leave Report-LONG and all TOS-oriented, July 18, 1998.
  40. ^ Shatner's ass did get a paragraph on page 4, when the authors mentioned that fans surveyed cited it as the most attractive part of his anatomy.
  41. ^ 2011 review at Amazon
  42. ^ 7thsealord, discussing the "taxi driver" story William Shatner's POW Story at, November 13, 2011.
  43. ^ While Shat speaks about "conquest" as a concept, he doesn't really talk about his own sexual adventures.
  44. ^ 2004 review at Amazon
  45. ^ 2004 review at Amazon
  46. ^ Therese, The Daily Scrapbook 11/16/12 1976, a preview of Shatner’s First Biography, “Questionnaire and Interest Checklist. Trekker Scrapbook November 16, 2012.