Tag Archives: Golden Globes

Jew of the Week: William Shatner

William Shatner as Captain Kirk (1966-1969)

William Shatner as Captain Kirk (1966-1969)

William Shatner (b. 1931) was born in Montreal to a Jewish family with Eastern European ancestry. Despite studying economics at McGill University, Shatner was drawn to acting from a young age and was a member of the Montreal Children’s Theatre. After graduating, he became the manager of a theatre company and soon started acting himself in Ottawa’s Canadian National Repertory Theatre and Stratford’s Shakespeare Festival. Meanwhile, he had a few small roles in Canadian films before starring in The Brothers Karamazov in 1958 – his first significant Hollywood role. Over the following few years, Shatner struggled to find more success, and picked up whatever roles he could, appearing on Broadway, in a number of television shows, and various films. In 1966, Shatner was cast as Captain Kirk on the new show Star Trek. In one historic 1968 episode, Kirk kissed Lt. Uhura – the first kiss between a white man and a black woman on American television. Unfortunately, Star Trek was not yet very popular, and the show was cancelled after just three seasons. Shatner had a tough time finding work afterwards, and ended up broke and living from his truck. He took on many small roles through the 70s, appearing in multiple shows and doing all sorts of commercials, from General Motors to Canada’s Loblaws grocery store. By the end of the 1970s, Star Trek had made a comeback and developed a massive cult following. Paramount decided to make a film and cast the original actors in the 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Shatner went on to play Kirk in six more Star Trek films. He soon expanded to directing films, producing music, writing screenplays, and co-writing a series of very popular sci-fi novels. Between 1994 and 2010, Shatner was the CEO of a special effects studio, while also publishing a number of non-fiction books and continuing to play small roles in film and television. All in all, Shatner has appeared in at least 20 films, 30 television shows, and wrote or co-wrote over 40 books. He has won an Emmy and a Golden Globe, and has a star on both Hollywood’s and Canada’s Walk of Fame. He has played for charitable causes on the World Poker Tour, and is an organizer of the Hollywood Charity Horse Show which raises funds for children’s charities. In 2006, he sold his kidney stone for $25,000 and raised an additional $20,000 to build a house with Habitat for Humanity. Interestingly, Shatner does not like seeing himself on video, and says he has never watched any of his films or Star Trek episodes!

Words of the Week

God is a circle whose center is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere.
– Empedocles

Jew of the Week: Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford (Photo Credit: Georges Biard)

Harrison Ford (Photo Credit: Georges Biard)

Harrison Ford (b. 1942) was born to a Russian-Jewish mother and Irish-Catholic father, but was raised in a secular home. (He would later say that “As a man I’ve always felt Irish, as an actor I’ve always felt Jewish.”) He grew up a devoted Boy Scout, which later helped him immensely in his role as Indiana Jones. It was in college that Ford first became drawn to acting. In 1964 he did some acting at a local theatre, and then moved to LA. For several years he worked as an uncredited film extra, then had minor roles in a number of TV shows. To support his family during this time, Ford worked as a carpenter. His big break came in the early 70’s when he was cast for a role inĀ American Graffiti and met director George Lucas. Lucas gave Ford a couple more small roles until finally casting him as a lead in his new Star Wars film, playing the role of Han Solo. He went on to play Han Solo in both Star Wars sequels, and will reprise his role again in the latest Star Wars film, to be released next month. Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg, too, was eager to work with the rising star, and pushed to have him cast as Indiana Jones (despite Lucas’ initial protests). By the time he was done starring in all three Indiana Jones films, Ford was a Hollywood superstar and a household name. Since then, he has starred in over two dozen more films, among them the classic Blade Runner (which also has a sequel on the way). Ford’s films have grossed over $6 billion, making him among the highest-grossing actors in history, and he has been ranked first among the Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time. Ford is also a pilot and owns both airplanes and helicopters, which he has used for emergency rescue services. He is a member of the humanitarian organization Wings of Hope, and vice-chair of the environmental group Conservation International. He is also on the governing board of the Archaeological Institute of America. The Calponia harrisonfordi spider and the Pheidole harrisonfordi ant are named after him. Ford has also been a peace activist (particularly for Tibet, where he is now barred from travelling to), and has criticized Hollywood for its portrayal of violence in film (he even turned down the lead role in The Patriot because he felt the film was too violent). Among his many other awards, Ford has won three Golden Globes for Best Actor, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has also won several aviation awards and was ranked among the “Heroes of Aviation” by Flying magazine.

Words of the Week

Fix yourself first, and then fix others.
– Talmud, Bava Kamma 107b