Friday, October 23, 2015

The Apprentice?


We've covered Bill Shatner's 1958-60 stint performing in the theatrical play The World of Suzie Wong a number of times. But it turns out that far more photographs exist from this time - ones of significant toupological interest. For example, while perusing Marc Cushman's These Are The Voyages books we came across a publicity still from 1958 or '59 featuring Bill Shatner and co-star France Nuyen:

The picture is of a very low resolution, but nonetheless we'd say it is pretty certain Bill Shatner is toupless here - combing, spraying and creating a shell that could still pass as a full head of hair if photographed correctly. Perusing a couple of Internet photo-sharing sites and message boards, we also came across another picture from the same shoot - apparently taken by photographer Milton H. Greene on October 14, 1958:

Here, the thinning is more evident. Indeed, the sides of Bill Shatner's hair appear noticeably fuller and of a greater volume than the hair atop the scalp.

Let's quickly refresh our memories about the play in question: according to the IBDB, The World of Suzie Wong had two separate runs on Broadway, New York. The first was at the Broadhurst Theatre from October 14, 1958 to November 7, 1959; the second run, at the George Abbott Theatre, ran from November 9, 1959 to January 2, 1960. 

The story, set in Hong Kong, sees serviceman Robert Lomax (Shatner) falling for a local prostitute (Nuyen). In his autobiography, Up Till Now, Bill Shatner relates how, following initial disastrous reviews, he altered his acting style and helped re-imagine the play as a satire - which then became a hit (more in our toupological analysis)!

We also know that on November 16, 1958, Bill Shatner and France Nuyen performed an extract from the play (presumably still the "bad" version) on live television, on the Ed Sullivan Show. No footage of this has ever been seen publicly since the original transmission (but certainly such a performance would have been cause to take numerous publicity stills). 

The Suzie Wong era is of particular interest because it serves as a unique example of us seemingly having pictures of Bill Shatner both toupless and wearing a very early approximation of a "Jim Kirk Lace". A common reference point! Over the span of the play's almost 15 month run, it appears that Bill Shatner's real hair became increasingly thin to the point that - at least for certain (perhaps later) publicity stills - a toupee began to be viewed as essential. So we have what is, we think, almost certainly a toup: 

...also this quintessentially "Jim Kirk lace" 1959 television interview on the The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show:

And also likely not toup:


See also here for a Life magazine feature published on October 8, 1958 (thus prior to the premiere) which appears to show that at this point, Bill Shatner was still toupless, but using heavy thickening spray of some kind:


Finally, with greater certainty, almost certainly no toup:

But wait, there's more! - as they say in infomercials.

What if there was a brief intermediary phase, considered, but soon discarded? We've never encountered a Bill Shatner photograph that appears to be a comb-over before. But this is what we appear to have in another Wong publicity picture we came across (the date it was taken is not known by us). Something akin to "The Donald's" solution (we believe him when he says it's not a toup):

Source: Daily Mail

Could it be that Bill Shatner briefly attempted this method too? Clever combing forward of long hair from the back?


The hair just doesn't appear to be following a natural growth/combing pattern here. Rather, it appears to have been swept forward. The frontal hairline also appears to be showing signs of severe thinning. Perhaps the hair was squashed by a since-removed toup. Or perhaps it really is some sort of comb-over attempt. There do appear to be bald patches visible through the carefully placed strands in places rarely seen by the general public. 

Just when you start to think that all the toupological stones have been uncovered something like this comes along...

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What a tangled web we weave...

Almost daily, the Mars exploration rover known as Curiosity sends back pictures and scientific data from the Red Planet.

But imagine if one day, rather than yet another image resembling the above, the Rover sent back something like this:

It would be game over, right? You could pretty much forget about carbon isotopes and gas chromatographs and particle induced X-ray emissions, or the host of other complex experiments that seek out trace signatures of potential life-sustaining processes. Suddenly that would all be rendered meaningless. A minor detail. The big picture would be screaming out at humanity from across the Solar System. 

About a year ago, a reader alerted us to this 2009 publicity picture of Bill Shatner (credit: ""). It was an image that threatened to become a proverbial cactus on Mars. Sub-toupular particles were irrelevant. For this, even a touposcope would temporarily prove unnecessary (unbelievable though it seems - though, of course, still useful for closer examination). 

All that was required was to zoom in, and observe with one's own eyes...


Upon examining this image, the William Shatner School of Toupological Studies decided upon an extremely rare step. It convened a full sitting of its Grand Toupular Assembly (GTA), attended by the heads of all 2,143 departments at our research facility.

The major find was announced: what appeared to be an extremely rare malfunction of the usually extremely reliable "Denny Katz" toupee.

After basic examinations were complete, our toupologists finally fired up their touposcopes:

Somehow, the Denny Katz toup had failed. A thinned-out patch had emerged revealing the base netting attached to the head.

The pattern was unmistakable. A classic mesh. Oddly uniform for a toupee that prides itself on looking so natural.

Indeed, the toup also appeared to be moulting profusely.

Was Ed Katz letting standards slip? Or was this a rare defective toup? Or had Bill Shatner simply kept the thing on for too long? Even odder is that this image is from the controlled environment of a publicity shoot - the place where you'd least expect a toup malfunction to find its way out.

But, then again, this isn't the first time that such a lapse has occurred:

Back cover of the 1995 Bill Shatner book Ashes of Eden

How could a professionally created publicity photo feature a shirt littered with toup-particles (note the harsh cut edges on either side, unlike the more tapered look of natural hair), and even more shockingly a bare patch in the Denny Katz toup?

Toup-particle on shirt.

Perhaps even more curious is that this publicity image is still being used to this day - for example to publicize the upcoming January 2017 Star Trek Cruise, at which Bill Shatner is the star guest:

Of course, from a distance the picture can actually look quite natural - imperfections such as the visibility of the scalp and lack of follicular uniformity serving to make the toupee look more realistic.

But up close - yikes!!!


A reader sent in some up-close pics they managed to take of the lifts inside Bill Shatner's costume from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. On a related note, the book Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is available for purchase here. We're happy to give it a plug...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Who is Number One?


What happens when Airport (1970) becomes Airplane! (1980)? When Blofeld becomes Dr. Evil, and James Bond becomes Austin Powers?

Where do you go after deconstruction? Is there a way back?

In the very last episode of the iconic 1960s TV series The Prisoner, "Fall Out", Number Six earns the right to be an individual. For he has so incessantly and relentlessly resisted all the efforts to have him settle into the Village, that the powers-that-be are left with no choice: have the chair yourself. You win...

Only Bill Shatner has the privilege of seeing his unmasked bald self...

Václav Havel. Nelson Mandela. William Shatner?

Post deconstruction. Post parody...

William Shatner in a 1976 appearance in the game show Storybook Squares  (thanks to a reader for the tip).

A return to the now impervious original...

There's no two ways about it anymore, William Shatner has earned the right to say whatever he wants about his hair, their hair, your hair. Anyone's hair. And he has earned the right, after years of uncompromising battles, to have us believe his hair is real, too. It really is "Shatner's World: We Just Live in It"...

Witness two recent example of this Brave New World:

 A May interview with Vanity Fair to promote Bill Shatner's new TV series William Shatner's Brown Bag Wine Tasting.

(Interviewer) Jessica Pilot: I love wine. I only really drink white wine.

William Shatner: There you are. So, if you like the wine and we engage in a conversation about the wine, we ease our way into why your hair is as beautiful and long as it is; and let’s talk about your hair as well as the wine
. And now we’re into something personal and hopefully get some human information about you that you and everybody else doesn’t know about. [emphasis ours]

Jessica Pilot: I wanted to ask you about comedy. Are you interested in it?

Jessica Pilot

Pilot knows. Bill Shatner knows. We know. For he can "ease" his way into talking about someone else's hair all he likes. He can "hopefully get some human information about you that you and everybody else doesn’t know about". Those are the rules. All we can do in return is: "ask you about comedy". That's what happens when you've finally won. 

Need more proof?

News came out at the end of May that William Shatner would be playing writer Mark Twain in an episode of Canadian detective series Murdoch Mysteries.  Mark Twain!

This Mark Twain:

In on-screen versions, he can be made to look pretty much like the real thing, as in an exceptional performance by actor Jerry Hardin in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Image via

But Bill Shatner - because he can - won't be removing his "Denny Katz" toup for anyone:

And he can even mention that fact to CBC reporters:

"Twain was tall and slim with white hair, at least when he got older, so I am playing my version of it."

What else can we do but offer a Jessica Pilot-style non-follow-up akin to: "I wanted to ask you about comedy. Are you interested in it?"

After almost 60 years of toupee-wearing, the 84-year-old has elevated himself and his toupee-wearing beyond parody, beyond deconstruction. And the mystery of Patrick McGoohan's controversial, surreal ending to his iconic TV show may at last be solved...

Did Patrick McGoohan predict that Bill Shatner's toupee would survive "intact and secure"

To quote the character of The President in the final episode of The Prisoner:

"He has revolted. Resisted. Fought. Held fast. Maintained. Destroyed resistance. Overcome coercion. The right to be a Person, Someone, or Individual. We applaud his private war and concede that despite materialistic efforts he has survived intact and secure. All that remains is recognition of a Man."


We wanted to remind our readers that on Tuesday, July 14, the New Horizons probe will be flying its closest approach past the dwarf planet Pluto, yielding some amazing photographs. Of the old Solar System count of nine planets, this is the last one we have yet to photograph up close. So it really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

 This Hubble image was the best we had...

Naturally, given our huge experience of studying images of William Shatner's scalp for potential bald spots, lace lines and other phenomena, the WSSTS has been working very, very closely with the New Horizons team since the start of the project, including adapting our ultra-powerful touposcopes for use in outer space.

Plutoup? A never-before-seen surface!