Tag Archives: Science Fiction

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: Steven Spielberg

The Greatest Film Director of All Time

Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg

Steven Allan Spielberg (b. 1946) was born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Cincinnati, and grew up in New Jersey and Arizona. As a twelve year old boy scout trying to get a photography merit badge, his photo camera broke so he made a short film with his father’s video camera instead. It sparked a life-long passion for film. The following year he made a 40-minute war flick that won a prize, and at 16, made his first full length sci-fi movie, which made $1 in profit. After high school, Spielberg studied film, then got a job at Universal Studios as an unpaid and uncredited intern, working seven days a week in the editing department. During this time, he put together a 26-minute film. A Universal exec saw it and immediately signed Spielberg to a long-term contract, making him the youngest director to do so. He first made 4 TV films, then was offered the chance at Jaws (which had so many production issues it almost never made it). Jaws won 3 Academy Awards and set a box-office record, propelling Spielberg to huge fame. Spielberg continued to make big hits that smashed box-office records, winning two Best Director awards and having his films earn a total of 33 Oscars. Together with two other Jews, Spielberg founded his own studio, DreamWorks, most famous for producing animated hits like Shrek, Antz, and The Prince of Egypt. Spielberg has also participated in many philanthropic causes, including aid to Israel (for which the Arab League voted to boycott his films in 2007). Most notably, he founded the Survivors of the Shoah Foundation to record video testimonies of the Holocaust, lest it be forgotten or denied. Over 52,000 interviews have been conducted in 56 countries and 32 languages. Spielberg was made an honorary Knight of the Order of the British Empire, as well as a knight of the French Légion d’honneur. He has been voted the greatest director of all time, listed as the most influential figure in the film industry, and included by TIME Magazine in their list of 100 Most Important People of the Century.

Words of the Week

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
– William Shakespeare