Friday, December 4, 2009
What is it?
A debate has been raging of late among some readers about Bill Shatner's current hair. What is it? Is it a transplant or some very, very fine and expensive hair appliance? How could Bill Shatner's real wrap of hair around the back and sides provide enough hair to fill out the top?
All very interesting questions. Many of you have also been pointing to some recent and high-quality close-ups of Bill Shatner at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center that were posted at the German shatner-news website - some of which we reproduce here.
We will now try to make a case (our pro-toupee counter-case is here and an important update is here) why Bill Shatner might indeed have had a hair transplant (plugs) and try to answer some of your questions in the process:
Imagine Bill Shatner's head were a three-sided sports stadium filled with people. The people are the hair at the back and sides and the pitch is bald scalp.
Would it be possible to fill out the green playing field with spectators without emptying the seats too much (let's overlook the relative stadium-to-pitch size issues)? Could an equilibrium be reached whereby the stadium looks relatively full and the seats still look relatively full too? Now imagine that if to that you added the fact that for every seat vacated by someone going to stand on the pitch, a new person eventually appeared to take their place (hair regrowth). The answer is yes:
This is what we believe Bill Shatner might have achieved. His hair all over is pretty thin in terms of hairs per square inch, and patchy in places too, but the image of a full head of hair is largely maintained.
Apparently supporting this toupological thesis (or should that be plugological?), we have what appears to be visual evidence of areas that are harvested for donor hair - look at the temple area:
And possibly here too - a closeup from Mind-Meld (more here):
Now, if we look at the relative spacing of the hair, we see that certain areas are a little patchier and require additional work after a time - hair falls out and needs to be replaced. Would Bill Shatner, now prosperous and wealthy, ever be photographed with a hairpiece in such a bad condition?
Yet, we also believe that Bill Shatner still uses hairpieces from time to time. These are systems that are possibly placed on top of his plugs, likely when he is facing the harsh lights of a studio and his plugs aren't quite up to scratch. For example...
...this, we believe is a piece. One of the telltale signs is the sharp hairline at the sides and a little too thick hair at the top. Thus, what Bill Shatner has devised is a look that arguably allows him to get away with not wearing a toup most of the time, but still enables him to slip on a similar-looking toup when the demands of lighting and constant plug-tune-ups negate the possibility of the transplanted hair holding-up to scrutiny.
The donor hair that Bill Shatner apparently provides is resistant to male pattern-baldness and so grows on the top and regrows at the back and sides. As this Q&A, linked to by "RM" in a reader discussion about hair transplants notes: "Hair transplants are permanent because the hair used is from the back of the hairline which is usually resistant to the normal hair loss progression of male pattern baldness. However, you will not get a full head of hair from this. It will fill in, but never be as rich and full as it was in youth."
UPDATE: " 'And no, it isn't a toupée,' [Shatner] says, tugging his hair." See here for more from this interview. If it was a toupee, then that would make Bill Shatner a liar. Now, Shats has been a little dishonest in the past, but not in recent years - instead he now parses and plays with words when it comes to the subject of his hair. So the above statement would be a little brazen and out-of-character for Bill Shatner if it were not true. See all our Shat-no-meter rulings for more.