The Star Trek website trekcore.com continues its important mission to bring us better quality images of William Shatner's toupee with the publication of high-definition screen-caps of the original series episode "The Deadly Years".
As Trek fans will know, this particular episode features probably the most remarkable changes to Bill Shatner's toupee in the entire three-year run of the series. The plot sees a landing party, which includes Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Chekov exposed to a particular form of radiation that brings about rapid aging. All the actors get to have considerable fun with these circumstances.
Let's have a look what happens to Captain Kirk's hair in the episode - click on the below images for more HD detail.
We start out with the usual "Jim Kirk lace", albeit looking rather more freshly-combed than usual (a sort of combed by your mother after having a bath look).
During the first phase of aging, the hairline is raised a little, with a widow's peak visible and the hair either side of it receding more than normal.
The front lace allows the hair to be combed back, while still maintaining a natural-looking hairline.
As Kirk ages, he gains more wrinkles, but his hairstyle stays the same.
Rather unusually, the sides are gray (Bill Shatner's real hair has been dyed - correction: a reader tells us its a spray-on hair color), while the toupee starts out light brown and slowly gets yellower.
We do see areas of receding at the top sides not normally seen.
Then, as the aging process continues, something truly extrordinary happens.
Bill Shatner's hair not only turns white, but his hairline moves down and his hair actually thickens!
Whereas the first hair stage was likely a modified version of Bill Shatner's usual lace, here we have a new lace with gray hair. The style is combed back into an unusual shell.
During the very final aging stage, we get yet more weirdness. Kirk's hair thickens yet again and the famous frontal swoosh makes a sudden comeback.
So what happened? It's possible that Star Trek's head of makeup Fred Phillips intended for stages 2 and 3 to continue the trend visible in stage 1. That would have meant a graually receding hairline and a continuing thinning of the hair. Did Bill Shatner step in and refuse? Did Phillips, in true Scotty fashion say "But Bill, I cannot make it any thicker, it isn't realistic!"?
Did Bill Shatner, echoing Kirk talking to Scotty, retort: "I want thicker hair in five minutes or you're all dead!" Was the Phillips-Shatner relationship fraught with tension over occasional rejected hairpieces?
In a sense, the strange reversal evident in the episode serves as a precursor to the later shocking increase in hair thickness visible as the "Jim Kirk lace" became the "Lost Years" of the 1970s and then the even thicker hair of the "TJ Curly" era (below).
Also of note is that cameras were allowed in to photograph the aging hair and makeup being applied during the production of "The Deadly Years":
Was an agreement reached beforehand that no pictures showing the toupee being applied onto Bill Shatner's head would be allowed? Or were the photographers only allowed in once the "hair" was on? Why is there a young toupee but aging makeup being applied in the picture above? Some falsification for the cameras?
See startrekpropauthority.com for yet more images from the makeup chair.
This publicity exercise contrasts sharply with a previous toupee-related incident in which a photographer was brought in to take pictures of Leonard Nimoy's Spock ears being applied a year earlier - Bill Shatner was angry as he didn't want to risk having his "little makeup secrets" revealed.
There have been some rumors out there that Bill Shatner may have worn a wig on top of a toupee during the aging stages in this episode. Upon consideration, we don't think there's any evidence to support these claims - after all, the cast and crew knew the actor wore a toup and all that ever mattered was that us the audience be kept in the dark. To place a wig on top of a toup would thus have been completely pointless and would also have looked ridiculous.
At the end of the episode, Kirk makes one of the most awesome returns in the history of everything. The acting captain Commodore Stocker is failing at his job, frozen as the Enterprise is pummeled by the Romulans. Enter Kirk, young once again, his toupee back to normal! A truly iconic Star Trek moment.
We'll conclude with two short clips of Kirk mentioning hair in "The Deadly Years": once Dr McCoy's and then his own (including a "Real Hair Reflex", pictured above). The latter of the two features a unique explanation for what has happened to his hair "radiation will do that to you". Perhaps that's also the explanation for why Captain Kirk's hair seems to get thicker as he ages in this episode! These are possibly the only ever times Bill Shatner as Kirk mentioned hair in the entire Star Trek series (any other examples, please let us know):