Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Imbalance of Terror

Amateur toupology.

Some time before the William Shatner School of Toupological Studies launched Shatner's Toupee, an amateur toupologist called "Nite Trek" was conducting toupological research and posting it on the "Trek BBS" Star Trek message board (see picture above). We certainly applaud and encourage such research, though we hope that if a touposcope was used, that adequate protection against toup-particle emissions was ensured.

The unusual image is from the first season Star Trek episode "Balance of Terror". The particular close-up shot of Captain Kirk represents, we believe, perhaps the single greatest lace malfunction in the entire series. Close attention to makeup and lighting would usually ensure that the lace line that anchored the front of (or frontal) toupee to Bill Shatner's head remained all but invisible. If we enhance an image from the scene, the line becomes even more prominent:

We have a description of this line from Star Trek producer Bob Justman in the book Inside Star Trek: The Real Story (see here for more):

"My gaze shifted to his (Shatner's) hairline. Examining balding actors' hairlines was a habit I'd picked up over the years. The 'lace' that anchored the front of his toupee glistened. I made a mental note of it to tell the makeup man about it before we filmed again."

One thing that Bill Shatner evidently soon learned after this incident was to avoid scrunching his forehead, which only helped to dislodge the fragile flap. As to why in this case the lace line was so low, we can only speculate. Perhaps this was the first appearance of a new toupee - Bill Shatner had two toupees on Star Trek as Bob Justman also noted in the aforementioned book:

"We had begun the first season with two new toupees for Bill because his own 'personal' ones were too ratty-looking. He would wear one toupee while the other piece was being cleaned in the makeup department...Each hairpiece cost $200, a pricely sum in those days."

Perhaps following this shot, the skin was cut back a little, while lighting and makeup likely did their best to make sure that such an incident never occurred again. As to why such a protruding skin was required at all, that likely has something to do with finding a smooth surface to paste the toupee on to. Bill Shatner evidently had a little hair on the front of his scalp that he may have been reluctant to shave off to provide such a surface directly under the toup.


  1. No toupee lace would possibly extend an inch in front of the hair. Illusion in the image

  2. That particular toupee in Balance Of Terror came from a salon named Bollenti that was located in downtown Mississauga. Their toupees were incomparably done for that time period, but would come apart after 8-10 weeks of use and could not withstand a thorough cleaning. That's what hapenned here: it just blew up. Boom goes the dynamite.

  3. That's not the only really obvious shot of Shat's toupee in TOS -- there's also this screencap from This Side of Paridise, which really shows the lace almost bubbling up:


  4. Why would Desilu have bought wigs from a store called Boiling Hot (Bollenti) located in Ontario, Canada (Mississauga)?

  5. Well, when I first saw this episode in the early seventies, in my old B&W TV set, I didn't notice that lace malfunction. How naive I was.. But Balance of Terror is very good, by way.

  6. Well, since you asked, the Bollenti salon was the wig supplier to The Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario. Shatner heard about the salon through his connections at Stratford and became enthralled with their toupees. He demanded that Desilu import the toupees for his use on Star Trek.
    Shatner's hairpiece was the signature toup from Bollenti: it could make anyone look boiling hot (even Shatner).
    When it became evident that the toups were not sturdy enough, the studio refused to use them anymore, and got substitute wigs. Shatner became depressed, knowing he never would be bollenti again and rapidly gained weight.
    The salon changed its business strategy to instead make low-cost toupees. Their new name was Brutti Anatroccoli and they became Shatner's toup supplier during most of his lost years phase. They went out of business in 1974. Ironically, one of their last sales went to Shatner for his Pray For the Wildcats role.

    Shat went on to experience a career renaissance in his later years after Star Trek returned. Sadly, the same can't be said for the original Bollenti.

    *some elements of this account have yet to be verified.

  7. This article was great... keep it up. Keep exploring - I wanna see more posts like this. Just exploring trekcore after reading this post I found quite a few examples where this was visible.

    I never believed he wore a toup in TOS until now.

  8. Specialists advised Shatner that the adhesive used in the Bollenti toops would eventually cause an allergic reaction that would turn his nose into a strangely bulbous smudge. He laughed in their face. Flash forward to 2009: look at that nose. Bill's no longer laughing (in their face).

  9. Thanks RM for that post (Thanks Footstep for the article).

    Assuming that story is true - this segment leads to a question -

    "Shatner's hairpiece was the signature toup from Bollenti: it could make anyone look boiling hot (even Shatner).
    When it became evident that the toups were not sturdy enough, the studio refused to use them anymore, and got substitute wigs. Shatner became depressed, ..."

    I'm curious to know the timeline of these events. I've always felt the TOS/1 was his best 'Jim Kirk' look.

  10. We need a post detailing the toupees that Bill wore in TOS/3. They were shaggier and very sloppy..

  11. It's all coming soon. Sorry, no post today - busy with touposcope! -ST

  12. The special occasion 'wrap-around' top that Kirk wore, usually when VIPs were on board, did him no favours. That outfit would have depressed anyone.

  13. Not even Shatner was this weird:

    "Movie icon Charlton Heston was so embarrassed by his thinning hair he wore two wigs onstage"

    as told by George Takei

  14. Takei seems to have a morbid obsession with other, far more successful, actors' hair. 'What do you do, George?' 'Oh, I go on chat shows and talk about other actors' rugs!'

  15. Well, we shouldn't forget: "Takei as in tou-pee"