DETAILS: Why Takei & Shatner Started Feuding Over a Wedding

george takei wedding

STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images

Star Trek fans know that the original cast members don’t always get along. George Takei famously called out William Shatner at a Comedy Central Roast back in 2006, stating that Shatner had been mispronouncing Takei’s last name for “40 years”. But it turns out their feud didn’t end there. These former co-stars have had a number of fights over the years, but perhaps one of the most heated one of all began over George’s wedding.


Backstory: Who George Takei Married & When

george and brad takei

VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty ImagesActor George Takei (L) and his partner Brad Altman (R) display their wedding certificates June 17, 2008 in West Hollywood, California.

George Takei came out as gay in 2005. After posing for the above photo in June of 2008, he married his longtime partner, Brad Altman on September 14 of that year. At the time, the two had been in a committed relationship for 21 years.

People noted that some of Takei’s former Trek co-stars were in attendance for the ceremony, and had very important roles. Nichelle Nichols, TV’s Lt. Uhura, was tapped to be the matron of honor, while best man duties were covered by Walter Koenig, who played Chekov. The guest list also included Leonard Nimoy, aka Spock, along with his wife.

For fans of Star Trek, one celebrity name seemed conspicuously absent from both the guest list and the wedding party: William Shatner.

It’s worth noting Shatner was not the only main TOS cast member who was unable to attend the 2008 wedding. Sadly, some of the original Star Trek cast members had passed by the time of Takei’s wedding.


Shatner Claims He Was Never Invited to Attend the Wedding

Shatner Tries To Settle Takei FeudWilliam Shatner responds to George Takei on the issue of George's continuing commentary to the press on him and offers to settle the feud that has been brewing with George for decades.2008-11-10T19:31:40Z

The video above is entitled “Shatner Tries To Settle Takei Feud”. It was posted to the official Shatner YouTube channel on November 10, 2008, roughly two months after George and Brad tied the knot.

“Well, he didn’t [invite me]. Okay?” Shatner clarifies right as the video begins. “And I understand him not inviting me to his wedding.”

He went on to state, “I would not expect him to invite me.”

He then switched gears, claiming that “George has been mean to me for a long time. I mean decades and decades….and I never said anything.”

Shatner did praise some details he had heard about the ceremony, noting, “I read his vows, and they were very beautiful.”

One additional tidbit that may shine some light on this multi-year saga comes from a 2012 Mother Jones interview with Takei. In that piece, Takei revealed that Shatner was “oblivious” about Takei’s sexuality…and potentially also the identity of his long-term partner.

“In fact, when [Shatner] was on the Howard Stern Show, Howard had me call in and chat…I mentioned Brad and [Shatner] didn’t know who Brad was. Everybody knew! We had a very public wedding. Bill says, ‘Who’s Brad?'”

Whether the “Who’s Brad?” comment was meant as a joke or was sincere, it clearly struck Takei.

Fans may find it interesting to note that years after the video above was posted, one review of Shatner’s one-man show, Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It called out that one of main takeaways the reviewer had from the show was, “William Shatner thinks George Takei can’t stand him.”


Takei Tells a Slightly Different Story

shatner one man show

Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesWilliam Shatner shows an image of George Takei from the “Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner” during his one-man show, Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It at the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino on June 19, 2014.

It’s worth noting that People interviewed Takei, just after the wedding but prior to Shatner sharing his video message about the feud online.

In that statement to People, Takei stated he found the controversy around whether Shatner was invited or snubbed “baffling”.

“In fact, we did invite Bill and we didn’t hear from him,” Takei explained to reporters. “But it wasn’t surprising because it’s true to his history. He’s never responded to an invitation.

In a 2017 interview with the Edmonton Journal, Takei spoke out about the long-running feud with Shatner, and whether he could ever see the two of them reconciling. Takei clarified that while there may have been some conflict in the past, the two are capable of being cordial when working together.

“We’ve all had difficulties with Bill [Shatner], but we’re all teammates and we work together….We do conventions and we do cross paths. I’ll say, ‘Morning, Bill.’ And he’ll say, ‘Morning, George.’ And that’s it.”

Takei also provided some additional detail to explain how it was possible Shatner didn’t realize he was welcome at the ceremony back in 2008.

“We thought the most natural thing to do would be to extend invitations to everybody [from the Star Trek cast],” Takei clarified to Edmonton Journal reporter Fish Griwkowsky. “We sent Bill an invitation. There might have been some mistake in the mail.”

Still, Takei says, all of this feuding could have been prevented if Shatner had just called him on the phone prior to the wedding. In the same interview with the EJ, Takei stated: “If [Shatner] would have called us before the wedding, we would have happily had him.”

However, that statement does appear to be at odds with a NY Post article published a few months before the couple tied the knot. In their report on the impending nuptials, Brad was quoted as saying, “Our contact list has, like, 3,500 names…I don’t know if William Shatner is going to make the cut.”

Those critical of the NY Post may question the veracity of that reporting about the guest list. A 2004 study found that the publication was the least-credible major news outlet in New York. More recently, in 2020, Twitter blocked the Post’s ability for users to share a story about Hunter Biden due to concerns about sourcing.

Is it possible that Shatner hadn’t made the final cut of the guest list when Brad gave that interview? Perhaps Shatner was confirmed on the guest list at some point after that interview date, but before the wedding itself.

Ultimately, unless someone can produce an invitation with Shatner’s name on it, this feud may never be truly settled for fans, or for the actors at the heart of the controversy.

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