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William Shatner's Wife Found Dead in Pool

Accident: Authorities say Nerine Shatner, 40, drowned while swimming alone at the couple's Studio City home.

August 11, 1999|JEFFREY GETTLEMAN and KARIMA HAYNES | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

The wife of actor William Shatner was discovered dead on the bottom of the couple's swimming pool after an apparent drowning, police said Tuesday.

Nerine Shatner, a model by trade, an actress by aspiration, accidentally drowned while swimming alone Monday evening, police said.

The Shatners had been married nearly two years, although William Shatner had filed for divorce last fall, according to court records.

A visibly distressed Shatner told a crowd of reporters gathered in front of his Studio City mansion Tuesday morning that his 40-year-old wife "meant everything to me."

"My beautiful wife died last night," said Shatner, best known for playing Captain Kirk on the "Star Trek" TV series. "Her laughter, her tears and her joy will be with me for the rest of my life."

According to Los Angeles police, Shatner, 68, returned home from a trip to Orange County at 10:15 p.m. Monday to find his wife motionless at the bottom of the deep end of their outdoor pool. He dived in the water, pulled her out and tried to revive her, authorities said.

Paramedics arrived shortly afterward at the gated white house in the 3600 block of Berry Drive but were unable to revive Nerine Shatner.

There were no signs of foul play or suicide, police said.

"Subsequent investigation revealed Mrs. Shatner was home alone for a short period of time and accidentally drowned while swimming in the family pool," said LAPD Det. Mike Coffee.

The L.A. County coroner will conduct an autopsy today.

In a Hollywood romance come true, the Shatners met five years ago on the set of the TV show "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues," said Stephanie Riggs, a personal assistant to William Shatner at his production company. He was the director, his future wife an actress--on one of her first big jobs--and the two began dating soon afterward.

In November 1997 the Shatners wed in an exclusive, black-tie affair accented by dozens of peach roses in a private home in Pasadena. It was her first marriage, his third. Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock on "Star Trek," was the best man.

The Shatners were often seen strolling arm in arm along the winding roads in the hills of Studio City, said neighbor Athina Mullen.

But a month before their first anniversary, the Shatners separated, according to papers filed in Burbank Superior Court. On Oct. 21, 1998, William Shatner filed for divorce. Shatner, who has made a fortune as celebrity endorser for the Internet company Priceline.com, asked the judge not to award alimony, the court papers said.

Nerine Shatner did not respond to the suit and her husband did not take the case further, although he did not have it dismissed, the papers said.

The two had since reconciled, said Pam Loar, Nerine Shatner's agent at L.A. Talent. They shared adventurous hobbies such as horseback riding, water skiing and para-sailing. Nerine Shatner was a strong swimmer who regularly did laps in the backyard pool, Loar said.

"That's why it's so strange what happened," Loar said. "Nerine was in great shape."

She had modeled since her teenage years, Loar said. Raised in Boston, Nerine Kidd came to Los Angeles in 1985 to act in commercials. She first worked for J. Michael Bloom, a former affiliate of Ford modeling, and most recently was represented by L.A. Talent. Top commercials included one for Brut men's cologne that played for years.

Recently Nerine Shatner had tried to make the jump from commercials into TV shows, Loar said. Her last production was "A Twist in the Tale," a children's show shot in New Zealand in March 1998 that starred her husband.

Show business may have been a huge part of Nerine Shatner's life, colleagues said, but so was friendship. "She was the kind of person, if anything was really important to anybody, she was always there," Loar said. "She was like a comet, very bright, vivacious, the biggest heart you could come across."

Times staff writers Evelyn Larrubia and Barbara Thomas contributed to this report.

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