Monday, July 19, 2010
"Put my hair over it!"
We've previously looked at one very overt mention of the toupee in Bill Shatner's autobiography Up Till Now, in which the actor ends his book by asking "Do I wear a toupee?". We've also looked at a far more oblique toupee inference in the book, in which Bill Shatner mentioned "my little makeup secrets".
Well, there is one more toupee-related mention in Up Till Now, in this case related to a stunt Bill Shatner performed during the 1980s that went slightly wrong:
"The most serious injury I've ever suffered doing a stunt took place when we were filming an episode of T.J. Hooker in Hawaii. We were shooting a fight scene on the top of a hill overlooking, I believe, the North Shore and the Pacific Ocean. It was about a thousand-foot drop off the edge straight down into the ocean. Now, I admit it, I'm afraid of heights...I'm terrified I'm going to fall."
Bill Shatner continues:
"This scene had been carefully choreographed by our stunt coordinator. We'd rehearsed it several times: the villain and I are fighting on the top of this hill, he knocks me down, and I roll to the precipice, right to the edge, then he takes a sword-a sword!-and slashes at my head. His sword comes down just to the right of my head, I move my head to the left, then he slashes to my left and I move my head to the right. Right-left, right-left. Got that?"
The action rehearsed, it's time to finally shoot the scene:
"Now I have never been certain whether I was to blame or if it was the stuntman's fault. I went one way, he went the same way and he slashed me right in the forehead. I started bleeding. The stuntman was mortified. 'Oh jeez,' he said. 'We gotta get you to the hospital.'
'I'm not going anywhere. I'm never going to be able to get this close to the edge again. Just patch me up and let's get this done.'
'But there's a flap of skin...'
'I'm not moving. Push it back, tape it down, and put my hair over it.' They stopped the bleeding and wiped off the blood." (emphasis ours)
There are a number of points that we can analyze here - the first being the decision to mention the hair at all. The story would still work without the hair mention and since it is a subject that Bill Shatner clearly does not enjoy people lingering on, the question arises: why mention it at all? Perhaps the answer lies in the actor's nature - he is a risk taker; he enjoys the thrill of the adrenaline rush, and what better way to peak a story than to add a sense of double jeopardy? Not only is Bill in danger, hurt, on the edge of a cliff - but now the toupee is brought into the mix too! Great storytelling!
Naturally, there was little chance that Bill Shatner was going to write "put my toupee over it", but the word "put" is interesting. Not "comb" but put. Perhaps subconsciously, Bill Shatner was revealing that his hair could be moved in ways that the hair of mere mortals could not be. It is detachable, flexible...
The phrase "my hair" we find to be entirely correct. It is his hair not because it is "of him" but rather because he paid for it! But more than anything else, it is the universality of the toup that comes through in the story. Not only does it cover mere baldness, but it also extends to covering wounds, perhaps even healing them. And during times of danger and injury, Bill Shatner turns to the toupee for an infusion of strength and resilience. Thus, it's not a glimpse of the actor's baldness that is revealed by this anecdote, but rather an extraordinary relationship to a toupee that truly provides Bill Shatner with universal coverage!