The Behind-the-Scenes ‘Star Trek’ Bagel Prank, as Told by William Shatner

William Shatner

Eric Pesola / Heavy William Shatner on stage in Richmond, Virginia

Like a dynamo with never-ending energy, William Shatner keeps on going. During the weekend of March 18-19, 2022, Shatner appeared at GalaxyCon Richmond in Virginia. He did the usual things that a star does when visiting with fans — autographs, posing for photos, and interacting with them.

The GalaxyCon Richmond weekend drew other stars from the “Star Trek Universe,” including Brent Spiner (Data), Jeffrey Combs (Shran), and David Gerrold (the writer behind the classic episode “The Trouble with Tribbles”). There were hundreds of vendors with Trek merchandise, including one gentleman who had nearly every MEGO Trek figure available. Trek fans came out in their Starfleet best, and there was even one cosplay Klingon who stole the show.

But it was Shatner who took to the stage at the Greater Richmond Convention Center and spoke to thousands of people about almost anything. When he took the stage, the crowd erupted in applause, and he began regaling the audience with his tales. 

Space and Back Again

Shatner said he had been thinking a lot about his trip to space and how it affected his life after returning to Earth. This is not one of his missions on the fictional Enterprise, but his real-life trip to space aboard a Blue Origin rocket in October 2021. Shatner said that he and his musical partners had composed a song about the trip. 

This new song was intended to be on the follow-up to his album, “Bill.” But when he got back to Earth after the flight, he realized that what he imagined space would be and what it was, were two very different things. 

“On Thursday, when I came back down, one of the first phone calls I made was to Rob [Sharenow],” Shatner said. “Everything we wrote about what it would be like going up into space — fuggedaboutit! Nothing like it whatsoever.”

Shatner said that he and the team came up with a song that better reflected his experience of going into space. This new song is called “So Fragile, So Blue.” Shatner will appear in concert at the Kennedy Center on April 29, 2022, where he will perform the song for the first time in public with musician and collaborator Ben Folds.

The Prankster

Anyone familiar with outtakes from “Star Trek: The Original Series” can attest that Shatner was someone who had fun on the set. Thanks to the numerous blooper videos available on YouTube, fans can see that while working on the show was tough, the cast and crew managed to squeeze in some fun.

Since someone from the audience asked about a “bromance” moment between Shatner, Leonard Nimoy (Spock), and DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy), he took a few minutes to share a classic prank from those days.

Shatner said that he met Kelley one morning at the craft services table, where the cast and crew would grab a bite to eat. On one particular day, Kelley confided that he’d been having difficulty remembering his lines. 

“You know, Bill, I’m really frightened,” Kelley said. “I think I’m losing my mind. I’m losing my memory. I can’t remember names. I can’t remember lines, Bill!”

“Oh, DeForest, don’t be silly,” said Shatner. “Memory is not like that. Everyone goes through stages like that. Don’t be afraid of forgetting.” 

Kelley put a bagel in a toaster and waited for it to warm. Shatner noticed that Nimoy was also in the room and asked the Spock actor to distract Kelley. He asked Kelley to help get something out of his eye. While that was happening, Shatner quickly took the bagels out of the toaster and ate them.

When he returned to the toaster, Kelley was visibly upset. He grabbed another bagel, put it in the toaster, and watched it.

“Now you could tell he was no longer anticipating with joy,” Shatner said as the audience giggled. “There better be some bread in there!”

Shatner had Nimoy distract Kelley once again, and Shatner stole the bagels as he did the first time. When the toaster popped again, there were no bagels. 

Kelley looked at Shatner and screamed, “Oh, you son of a bitch!”

With that, Shatner left the stage, and the audience rewarded him with a standing ovation.

READ NEXT: ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Explains Why Harry Kim Never Got Promoted

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Kris Smith
Kris Smith
1 year ago

Except that that isn’t how it happened. De told this story to his audiences differently. I was at the Shrine Auditorium the day De got even by telling this story the way it really happened, and Shatner was so upset that he “stole” his story that he came out to reiterate ad nauseum that De was losing his mind… and he went on and on and on, “crucifying me” (De recalled) so that half the audience began to believe it. Sitting in the audience, I felt sick to my stomach as Shatner continued, knowing the fans would go home upset about poor De, when “losing his mind” was in NO way accurate, or even on De’s radar. He remained sharp as a tack until he died. I know. I was there.