When shares in Priceline.com shot from their post-dot-com-era low of $2 to $500 earlier this year, pundits theorized that the company’s TV pitchman, William Shatner, might have become a paper billionaire. It’s true that the Montreal-born actor accepted stock in lieu of cash for appearing in Priceline’s early ad campaigns, but the highest published estimate of his original stake is 125,000 units—a mere $62.5 million at that price. The question remains: How does Priceline stack up against the other money-makers in Captain Kirk’s cosmos?
*All figures in U.S. currency
ON SCREEN He has enough TV credits (T.J. Hooker, $#*! My Dad Says), film roles (Airplane II, Miss Congeniality) and cameos to bring IMDB to its knees. And any one of these jobs could have netted him more than his first years on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise: He reportedly earned $5,000 per episode during Star Trek’s first season in 1966 and, by his own admission, less than $50 a year from rerun residuals. Shatner’s star power exploded with Star Trek IV, when he began earning between $2 million and $6 million per movie. He speculates that the entire franchise generated $50 billion in merchandise sales—of which even a tiny portion equals a whole lotta latinum.
IN PRINT Shatner has co-written 10 Star Trek novels (two of which entered The New York Times bestseller list) and nine volumes of his sci-fi drug-trafficker series TekWar. Add to that his seven non-fiction titles, including memoirs such as Get a Life!, Up Till Now and October’s Shatner Rules, and the actor’s canon is almost as deep as Stephen King’s.
ON SPEED-DIAL Shatner has shilled for more products than Paris Hilton, including commercials for the NFL, Loblaws, Molson, Wendy’s, Crest, Blockbuster, Oldsmobile, Commodore Computers, World of Warcraft and All-Bran, and no fewer than eight law firms.
$25,000 The amount Goldenpalace.com paid at auction for Shatner’s “recently passed” kidney stone in 2006. (He donated the proceeds to Habitat for Humanity.)
ON DISC The actor has released three studio albums of what could loosely be described as music: 1968’s absurdly bombastic The Transformed Man, 2004’s Has Been and October’s Searching for Major Tom. Go ahead and scoff, but the man knows his market: An infamous 1978 clip of Shatner performing Rocket Man has been watched more than four million times on YouTube.
$18,400 The amount his mustard-coloured tunic from the original Star Trek series fetched at auction in 1993.
$79.95 The price of an autographed photo of Captain Kirk at williamshatner.com
BOTTOM LINE Only Shatner himself knows how much he’s actually worth. On Saturday Night Live, he jokingly told Trekkies to “Get a life!” But, when it comes to his own life, he certainly takes the whole “live long and prosper” thing to heart.