London: William Shatner has become one of the richest actors in tinseltown, but not just by playing Captain James T Kirk in ``Star Trek``. The 79-year-old actor has made a fortune from a most unlikely source as the voice and face of an online travel company, reported Daily Mail online.
A smart bit of contract negotiation in 1997 has meant that the star is estimated to have earned USD 600 million from advertisements for Priceline.com.
The astonishing sum is down to Shatner agreeing to take shares as part of his payment. At first shares fell during the dot-com bust to USD 1.80 in 2000.
But over the last ten years the firm`s fortunes have turned around and the shares are now worth almost USD 300 each. In the advertisements, Shatner plays the role of the Priceline Negotiator whose sole concern in life is to save customers money.
The commercials have become a hit on YouTube, mainly because of Shatner`s willingness to make fun of himself. In one ad he is fired by Priceline and replaced by Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr Spock in `Star Trek`.
Shatner`s early adverts for the company parodied his musical career, which began with the 1968 album `The Transformed Man`, in which he half-talked, half-sang his way through various songs including Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. The recording regularly ranks in lists of the worst albums ever made.
But Shatner now ranks as one of the richest actors in the world.