The grandson of Wolf Schattner who immigrated to Montreal from eastern Europe is about to go where no elderly Jewish guy has gone before: William Shatner, who turned 90 last March, is going to fly on Jeff Bezos’ next Blue Origin rocket mission in October.
Shatner will break the record for oldest human in space belonging to 82-year-old aviator Wally Funk, who took a ride on Bezos’ first Blue Origin mission on July 20, 2021. She for her part broke John Glenn’s record.
However, unlike Glenn and Funk who have earned the official title of an astronaut, Shatner will only qualify for the rank of passenger, which is still amazing. After Bezos’ first flight, which did not include any traditional astronauts, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a new ruling that only individuals who “demonstrate activities during the flight that were essential to public safety or contributed to human space flight safety” are entitled to the rank of an astronaut.
Shatner was cast as Captain James T. Kirk for the second pilot of Star Trek, titled “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” He was later contracted by NBC to play Kirk for the Star Trek series, a role he played from 1966 to 1969. The series was canceled after only three seasons because of low ratings, but not before Kirk’s famous first interracial kiss with actress Nichelle Nichols as the Enterprise’s Lt. Uhura, in the November 22, 1968, Star Trek episode “Plato’s Stepchildren.”
Shatner has been married four times, and all his three daughters—Leslie, Lisabeth, and Melanie—are Jewish: he had them with his first wife, Canadian actress Gloria Rand (Rabinowitz).