A reader recently brought to our attention a third season episode of TJ Hooker called "The Lipstick Killer" noting that a wig removal scene was contained therein. We were compelled to investigate!
The plot involves a murderer who is dressing up as a female nurse (including wearing a wig). This aspect features prominently in the episode as TJ Hooker deduces that the killer may be a man dressed up as a woman:
At the end of the episode comes a showdown between TJ and the bad guy in which the police sergeant tears off the bad guy's fake hair:
To our knowledge, the episode's director Sigmund Neufeld Jr. has never spoken publicly about the toupological aspects of this episode. But if he had, here's what we think he might have said:
"When Bill Shatner first got his copy of this script and realized that the episode would be dealing with fake hair, he immediately called the production staff to his home for a meeting. 'Hair is something I know about,' he said 'And I want to help make this episode as believable as possible.' Bill then went through the script line by line and was extremely helpful, telling us 'artificial hair wouldn't behave like that' or 'here in this scene, you need to make sure that wig is lit from behind because wigs have different spectral properties' and those sorts of things. He took the whole thing very, very seriously and turned out to be immensely helpful."
And what of the wig pulling scene?
"Originally, we were planning to use a stuntman for that shot, as pulling off someone's wig can be risky and should only be done by professionals. But Bill insisted that he could do it, so we finally relented. What he ultimately did was amazing. Right away you could tell that this was a guy that had great experience with and even love for artificial hair. The way he pulled the hair off in that shot - gripping it in just the right place; a firm deliberate yank - even some of the best stuntmen in the world couldn't have done it that well. It was really an amazing experience and one I'll never forget."
Curiously, the scene ends with Bill Shatner holding the bad guy's wig (in his right hand).
In the very next scene, Bill Shatner is looking a little sheepish and the wig is nowhere to be found!
A souvenir for TJ Hooker? Or more than that...? We'll probably never know.
UPDATE: Thanks to tips supplied by our readers, we have another example for you of TJ Hooker tearing off someone's wig. This time, it's from the fourth season episode "Target: Hooker". What's really remarkable about this sequence, in which Hooker tears off the wig of a male Marilyn Monroe impersonator, is just how similar it is to "The Lipstick Killer" wig tear moment:
The editing is a little different, holding for a few frames more on Bill Shatner as he performs the stunt.
But the way the artificial hair is torn off is almost identical.
So why was such a moment repeated on TJ Hooker within the space of a year? Was it the volume of fan mail that came in after "The Lipstick Killer" applauding any moments in which Bill Shatner overtly interacts with hair?
Or was it Bill Shatner himself demanding more toup-pulling scenes? To distract from his own hair? Or, conversely, to make subtle hints at it? Perhaps the suggestion is that you don't wear fake hair if you have enough real hair of your own! So many questions...
As a toupological bonus, "Target: Hooker" also contains this: