Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New toupless photo.

We've managed to come across a new and exciting toup-less picture of Bill Shatner (above). The image is from 1957 and forms part of a publicity photo shoot undertaken by the National Screen Service for the 1958 MGM picture The Brothers Karamazov. This and the two images lower down this page were all likely taken on the MGM lot, with Bill Shatner aged 26 at the time.

Bill Shatner in The Brothers Karamazov (filmed in 1957, released in 1958)

Bill Shatner wore a bowl-shaped wig in The Brothers Karamazov, his first major movie performance. In television appearances of the time, he was still going toup-less - albeit with an increasing reliance on careful styling, sprays and the like - but by 1958 this would begin to change. The three images provide a rare example from this period when the hair was not so heavily styled.

Bill Shatner with his then wife Gloria Rand and actor Lee J. Cobb

The particular image we present here for the first time is the only one of the three to provide an overhead view of Bill Shatner's head. This unique view provides some pretty strong evidence of severe thinning taking place across the top of the head, particularly at the rear crown. The hair, already very sparse, thin, light and fragile is combed across (a partial comb-over of sorts) to provide the maximum possible illusion of thickness. Toupologically speaking, it's a remarkably revealing image and one that a mere few years later would have never been photographed for public consumption sans toupee.

UPDATE: Our top toupologists tell us that they are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the above photo is indeed Bill Shatner toupless. For more on the methodology used by our toupologists, particularly for the crucial year of 1957, see our "Shatner and toupology" post.


  1. That's a amazing discovery!!

  2. Ah, the consummate toup-less photo is before us!


  3. Note also the thick chest hair, which is not visible in all those sans-a-shirt scenes in Star Trek. After he shaved, did he use that to make a rug?

  4. I'm not fully convinced that last picture is indicating what's being thought here.

    Note in the second picture, the top of his head appears to have dark thick hair, albeit brushed back.

    In the third picture, this areas appears very light colored.

    I almost suspect that the sun shining on his head is playing tricks with the view.

    If the third picture is genuine, then it appears to contradict the second one. I've always suspected that Shatner had started experimenting with toupees around the time of this film. Maybe it fell off in the third picture?

  5. I vote also for some over-exposure making him appear balder than he actually was, though any top-light can be unforgivingly honest about hair loss. The wisps at the front are fascinating though, given my long standing view that his Trek toupe allowed him to "fold" or comb his own remnant frontal hairliine back across the toupe. I am also unconvinced that if this is so much so early that he had enough hair to transplant 45 years later that he could dispense with the wig.

  6. Al, you can see the frontal toupee lace line in some TOS episodes. This is what I believe Shatner referred to as his 'makeup secrets' in his autobiography.

    Granted I've never seen what his real head looked like in the 1960s or so, so it's possible he might have had some hair left in his frontal hairline. But I doubt there was enough to comb over the toupee.

    I think he made the decision around the time of this 1958 film to go with a lace-front toupee going forward - except where a part called for something different. His goal was to be a leading man.

    But after TOS was cancelled and his marriage ended, he really fell and to stay afloat, he had to revert to more obvious toupees that looked really bad on screen. At that point, I don't think he cared though.

  7. The picture is very tricky, but you can see that the hair was thinning. A great find, anyway.

  8. In this photo the hair on top shows some of the same thick/thin patterns in those pics taken of Shat at the LA Equestrian Center in summer 2009. So maybe that is some evidence for the hair plugs argument

  9. enhanced/sharpened version here:

    looks very similar type of thinning to a similarly aged Prince William (as has been previously said)

  10. hmmmm I'm not sure, but I think he had quite a lot more hair in this pic than Prince William did at the same age.

    Even though the sun is shining directly on the top of his head, it's hard to see any major bald spots, though, albeit the hair is thin, and there is probably some combover action going on.

    As Al said, though, overhead light like that, especially sunlight is really unforgiving. I have a full head of hair, but my hair is very fine -- a picture taken at that angle of me would probably make it loo like my hair is thinning or that I'm going bald...

    Ultimately, though, it's too bad the pic is black and white -- it's just really hard to tell either way.

    It is an absolutely amazing find though!!!

  11. I noticed that in the pic Bill has a lot of chest hair. In shirtless shots of Shat from TOS I think the chest is smooth. Once ago, Shat confuses and confounds us with all things hair related.

  12. The guy on the far right in the Brothers Karamazov pic looks like Shat a bit in the TJ hooker years. I wonder how many of you when looking at the pic first thought it was Shat on the right side. I wonder if that actor was also wearing a toupe. Almost like the young and old Shat in some kind of crazy time warp