Shatner upset many fans when he opted not to fly back to Los Angeles from Florida, where he was a guest at an American Red Cross event, to attend the memorial, but he's standing by his decision.

He tells U.S. news show Extra, "I felt I had to go to the Red Cross meeting rather than go to his funeral (and I) caught a bit of flack for that. My thought was, 'We'll remember the dead but we'll deal with the living whose needs are right now', so I helped raise a lot of money for the Red Cross, which is helping people.

"I know Leonard would've wanted me to do that."

And Shatner tells WENN he spent a lot of time with his pal before he passed away, adding, "He was sick for quite a while. He had trouble breathing for months. We had spent a lot of time prior to that, where he would say in mock seriousness, 'Why didn't you tell me to stop smoking?' long before he did.

"It's a real lesson about the worst of what smoking can do to you. That COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease); it's got to be one of the most horrendous ways to die where you can't catch your breath, so they had him sedated for a while."