There was a lot of discussion among ‘Star Trek’ fans when William Shatner did not attend the funeral of Leonard Nimoy. Here’s everything we know about why TV’s Captain Kirk didn’t show up for the funeral of his former co-star.
Leonard Nimoy Died from COPD in 2015
Leonard Nimoy is not the only celebrity who passed after a struggle with COPD. Supermodel Christy Turlington has the disease, and while initial reports about Shirley Temple’s death said that “natural causes” were to blame, the Daily Mail was able to obtain a copy of her death certificate, which listed cause of death as “COPD”.
Nimoy was more than just TV’s Mr. Spock, he was also personally responsible for the creation of the “Vulcan salute” hand symbol. So it is understandable that his passing was upsetting to Star Trek fans. But something that seemed to upset some fans even more than Nimoy’s passing was former co-star William Shatner’s inability to make it to the funeral. CNN noted that Shatner’s no-show status at Nimoy’s furneral earned him the nickname “Captain Jerk” among some fans.
Shatner Had a Prior Commitment
I am currently in FL as I agreed to appear at the Red Cross Ball tonight. Leonard’s funeral is tomorrow. I can’t make it back in time.
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) February 28, 2015
Years later, Trek Movie got an advance copy of Shatner’s memoir Live Long and…, which included some never-before-revealed insights about Shatner’s experiences after Nimoy’s death. Shatner wrote he “didn’t feel welcome” at Nimoy’s funeral service, and merely used the existing commitment to a Red Cross event as an easy out.
“It was made clear to me that I was not welcome at his funeral,” Shatner writes, without naming anyone specifically that gave him that impression. “That was painful. I had an easy excuse.”
However, some fans and critics took issue with the subject matter and title of Shatner’s book, especially given how quickly the book followed after Nimoy’s death. The Washington Post‘s review of Live Long and… ends with the observation that “in titling his book [Shatner] has co-opted the very Vulcan salute patented by his dead friend Leonard.”
An ABC News report from shortly after the funeral noted that while Shatner did not attend the funeral, two of Shatner’s daughters did. Additionally, the same report included a claim from Shatner that it would have cost him $30,000 to charter a private jet to get him from the Red Cross event to LA in time for the funeral.
Shatner did speak with reporters at the Red Cross event about Nimoy’s recent passing.
“He had a good, long life,” Shatner told the assembled crowd at the charity ball. “He did a lot of things. He inspired a lot of people. He was loved by a lot of people and he loved a lot of people.”
Nimoy’s Perspective Before His Death
For Nimoy’s part, the Guardian relays that Nimoy was quoted in the final interview before his death, Nimoy was upfront about his falling out with Shatner.
When asked if he ever got together with William Shatner, Nimoy candidly stated that he hadn’t seen Shatner for “a while”.
“We don’t have that kind of relationship anymore,” Nimoy said, adding, “We used to.”
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) October 30, 2020