Pop Rocks

Pop Rocks: We Settle The Question Of Who Was Greater: Bill Shatner Or Liz Taylor?

Two classic thespians at the top of their game
This week saw two milestones in the entertainment world. The first was the 80th birthday, on Tuesday, of Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. The second was the unsurprising yet still depressing death yesterday of one of Hollywood's last true icons, Elizabeth Taylor.

"Wait a minute," you're saying, "Is he really trying to compare the career of the guy who played 'T.J. Hooker' to that of a two-time Oscar winner and one of the greatest actresses of our time?" You bet your ass I am, because not only do Shatner's achievements stand up next to those of the former Mrs. Hilton/Wilding/Todd/Fisher/Burton/Burton/Warner/Fortensky, but in some cases they surpass hers.

What's that? No, I have not been drinking. Okay, maybe a little.

Now I admit, at first blush the two couldn't be farther apart.  Taylor won two Academy Awards and appeared in some of the most revered movies of all time: National Velvet, Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf?, BUtterfield 8, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof among them. As for Shatner, well, he'll always be the best Starfleet captain there ever was (pipe down, Picardians), and if you stay up late enough, you may catch him in such cinematic fare as Kingdom of the Spiders and Big Bad Mama, usually on Cinemax or American Movie "Classics."

So you could certainly argue Shatner isn't in the same ballpark as Taylor (you could also argue they aren't in the same sport). But when it comes to other, more...esoteric criteria, I think you'll find the former T.J. Hooker measures up pretty well, girdle or not.

                                                                                Shatner           Taylor

Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame             1                    1
Stars on the *Canadian* Walk of Fame            1                    0
Winner: Shatner

Number of marriages                                       5                    8
Number of divorces                                          2                    7
Winner: Taylor

Simpsons appearances:                                  0                    2
Futurama appearances:                                   1                    0
Winner: push

Number of films made in Esperanto                  1                    0
Winner: nobody (have you *seen*

Portrayed by:                                           Hank Azaria             John Belushi
                                                                Jude Law               Sherilynn Fenn
Winner: Taylor

Charitable causes:                                       horses               AIDS
Winner: Taylor

Kidney stones auctioned for charity:                1                    0
Winner: Shatner

Worst movie:                                       Star Trek V               Cleopatra
                                                        Visiting Hours
          The Sandpiper
"Winner:" Shatner

Number of toy guns based on his/her
Works that I personally owned:                       1                    0
Winner: Shatner

Final Score: Shatner 4, Taylor 3

There you have it. As long as we don't limit our judging criteria to nebulous concepts like "awards" or "critical accolades" or "physical attractiveness," it's obvious Bill Shatner can more than hold his own against the so-called "greats" of Tinseltown. What's more, Shatner's legacy -- from Priceline commercials to Ben Folds albums -- continues to grow, while Taylor's will be forced to coast on the legacy of decades-old movies. Better luck next time, Liz.

Come back next week when I explain why Zack Snyder is a better director than Alfred Hitchcock.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar