A Florida man who claimed for decades that Star Trek star William Shatner was his biological father discovered after a DNA test that he was wrong.
Peter Shatner, 63, who legally changed his last name from Sloan last year, was adopted as a baby.
But he was later told by his biological mother that he could have been either the product of a brief love affair she claimed to have had with the actor in 1956, or a man she only knew as ‘Chick’.
Peter adamantly believed that Captain Kirk actor William was his real father.
But Shatner, 89, consistently denied they were related, which resulted in a lengthy legal battle when Peter sued him for $ 170 million in a defamation lawsuit for publicly denying paternity.
After 36 years of lobbying the actor for a DNA test, Peter has now finally discovered that his real father was the Canadian man nicknamed ‘Chick’ after using Ancestry.com to find the right genetic match.
Peter Shatner – pictured with William Shatner at a comic convention in Orlando in 2011 – claimed for decades that the Satr Trek icon was his father, despite the actor’s denials
Peter had been adopted at five days old in 1957, but with the help of his adoptive parents, he tracked down his biological mother in 1984 and reconnected.
During the meeting, his mother, the late Canadian actress Kathy Burt, said his biological father was William Shatner or the man she could only remember as “Chick.”
Burt had worked briefly with Shatner on a project in Toronto and said she was more positive that he was the father.
She had met Chick just a few days later, she said in a 1987 letter.
Peter Shatner, in the photo on the left, had lobbied actor William Shatner, on the right in the photo, for a DNA test for decades and even sued him for defamation for saying he was not his biological father
Peter (Sloan) Shatner and daughter Ann pose with William Shatner at the 2011 Orlando Comic Con, where he paid for a photo with the man he thought was his father
Peter’s half-brother through Burt, Charles McNeil, confirmed that this was the story she told.
“My mom had no reason to lie,” McNeil said to the Tampa Bay Times in 2015.
She was embarrassed about it, so kept it very private. She could have tried to make money from her story, but never did, even in difficult times. ‘
The revelation sent Peter on a quest to confirm Shatner’s paternity, but his tenacious efforts were constantly pushed back as the ‘TJ Hooker’ talent consistently said it wasn’t true.
“ It was never about wanting his money and I always made it clear that I would part with an inheritance in exchange for a DNA test, ” Peter told the Tampa Bay Times.
If you weren’t adopted, you could never understand. I had to know who I am. ‘
In 2009, Peter first started using Ancestry.com, hoping to find family members of Shatner who would prove the connection, as he was still denied the DNA test.
Instead, this year he found a link to a family who confirmed they had a family member named ‘Chick’ and reached out to his kids.
Chick’s daughter agreed to take a DNA test and it was confirmed that they are half siblings.
Peter told the Tampa Bay Times that it is disappointing that he failed to meet ‘Chick’ who died in 2001.
The Canadian citizen was officially called Benjamin Freedman, but was nicknamed because he used to run a chicken shop.
Peter Shatner in the picture, his real father was a Canadian citizen nicknamed ‘Chick’
Peter claimed it was never about the money, despite a $ 170 million charge against Shatner
“I’ll never have the opportunity to sit down and talk to him,” he said. “I just wanted to know where I was from.”
He also plans to change his name back from Shatner now that he knows he is not related to the actor, possibly back to Sloan, his adoptive father’s name.
Still, he doesn’t regret his pursuits on Shatner, which often made headlines.
“They called me a conman,” he said of the actor and his team. “I didn’t lie.”
William Shatner, 89, consistently publicly denied that he was the father
Peter claims he first met Shatner in 1984 after a friend of his adoptive father made an appointment with them.
He claims that during that meeting, Shatner said he could have been the father, but Shatner publicly denied the meeting ever took place.
His publicist also denied that Shatner knew Burt, although there are pictures of them acting together.
“The more they pushed back, the more it looked like they were hiding something,” said Peter. “I wish they had admitted knowing who I was and taking the DNA test.”
The couple met again in March 2011 at a comic convention in Orlando when Peter paid for a photo with the man he believed was his father.
That same year, Peter Shatner tried again to have a DNA-based paternity test, but was discontinued.
His lawyers responded to the request, saying that Shatner is “an incredibly busy 80-year-old man who does not want to spend time discussing this matter with you.”
Peter eventually sued the actor in 2016, demanding that the Hollywood legend submit a DNA test to confirm that he is his biological father.
He also charged Shatner with defamation and libel for his public statements denying paternity, saying the star had admitted to being the father in 1984, but now denied to avoid any negative consequences for his acting career.
Peter had claimed $ 50 million in pain and suffering, $ 30 million in damages, and $ 90 million in punitive damages.
Shatner has three daughters, Lisabeth (left), Leslie (right) and Melanie (not pictured), from his first marriage to Canadian actress Gloria Rand. He married Elizabeth Martin in 2001
However, a judge in June 2019 ordered the $ 170 million suit to be discarded.
‘….[S]Since it has never been established that Shatner is the plaintiff’s biological father, the alleged defamatory statements he attributes to Shatner and his agents could not have been false by law when made, ”the court documents said.
Despite the loss of the suit, Peter successfully filed a petition for the name change last year.
He hopes he will now meet his biological siblings once the pandemic is over and he has enjoyed the similarities he has with his father, including both of whom sell life insurance.
“I found what I was looking for,” said Peter of his search for the truth about his parents. ‘It took time and it was a fight, but I did it. I finally know where I come from. ‘
Shatner has three daughters, Leslie, Lisabeth and Melanie, from his first marriage to Canadian actress Gloria Rand. He has been married to Elizabeth Martin since 2001.
The actor is worth an estimated $ 100 million, most of which is made from his Star Trek TV shows and movies, as well as from Priceline stocks and commercials.