Friday, November 11, 2011

The dawning of the Age of Touperius.



It's April 1968 and the musical Hair has just opened on Broadway, underscoring a crucial component of the ever-growing hippie counter-culture movement of the time. Being with it wasn't just about politics, Vietnam, "Turn on, tune in and drop out", great music, expanding your consciousness etc. etc. - but many involved also viewed growing their hair long as a quintessential component of this anti-establishment movement - and that's what this musical sought to reflect.


Might a toupee have sufficed if the real thing was not in abundant supply? Who knows... But that's all besides the point. In 1968, Bill Shatner was evidently in no mood to Let the Sunshine In, feeling introspective rather than exuberant; morose rather than jovial. Star Trek was a flop, hanging on for dear life, and the idea that this series would one day be remembered as an unmistakable part of the Sixties, on the same lists along with the Beatles, the moon landing, Woodstock, RFK, MLK and all the rest of it would have seemed like so much pie in the sky had anyone suggested such a thing at the time.

Bill Shatner in character as Captain Kirk at a parade in South Carolina. More here.

And not only was Broadway housing such counter-cultural hair-related fodder, not only was Bill Shatner's starring show falling apart, not only was the archetypal leading man concept atrophying under such increasingly sterile and morally dubious titles as A Guide for the Married Man (New Hollywood would soon wash all of this away), but the actor's marriage to wife Gloria Rand was also all but over. Which brings us to a contemporary profile of Bill Shatner in a 1968 issue of TV Guide, via the good folks at "More Shat, Less Shame".


The piece (in the journalistic sense of the word) is characteristically upbeat about the star it is examining. There's the "Golden Boy" in the title as well as a flattering look at the actor's career.


But for Bill Shatner, "the dream [meaning the joy of stardom] was hollow". His father's death, the breakup of his marriage (played out in many a magazine of the time), and ongoing career struggles lead the actor to note "Out of a great deal of personal sadness, I feel I'm able to see behind people's masks." Perhaps the toupee is being subtly inferred here: a man with his own mask wishing to learn about others. (Did that desire culminate years later in Shatner's Raw Nerve?).

The tell-tale hairpiece...

But if only that was the only toupological inference - subtle, nuanced... No, TV Guide underscores just how much times are a-changin'. Only two paragraphs into their profile we get something rather stunning: "At 37, and with only a tell-tale hairpiece marring his intergalactic Golden Boy image, Shatner doesn't look very different from the way he did in the early 1950's when he was labelled a theatrical Wunderkind."


So one of the most popular publications in America announces to the world that Bill Shatner wears a "tell-tale hairpiece". Yikes! What happened to the days when profiles were a little more respectful of concealing stars' foibles? What was happening to the world?


And what of the hair pictured in the similarly morose-looking photograph that accompanies the article? Is it one of the the little-seen personal "ratty-looking" toups? The lack of the characteristic "real" hairline suggests that it's not a "Jim Kirk lace". Could it be the toup from Perilous Voyage? Or is it really one of the actor's own? At this point, we just don't know...


But what the image perhaps suggests is that the new times were offering Bill Shatner more than just unwanted toupological TV Guide revelations after all - his real hair a little longer, and of course there's those rather bushy sideburns - he was about to get with it; the ashes of past defeat cast aside, he was about to become The Transformed Man and popular culture would never be the same again:

"Shouldn't that be hairpiece?"

Now the 60's could really take off! Humanity was about to enter the Age of Touperius!

video

8 comments:

  1. shats own real syrupNovember 11, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    @shatstoupblog this is superb, and so poor bill could not even get thogh a newspaper interview, without the person thinking "is that a rug" bill must have read, these newspaper interviews once theybwent to print, he know even then it was hopeless to disagree, with what was being printed as only more people, would question, "is it a toup" so from very early days (like the mcclean item in 1957) he toup has been outed......poor shat, never anything about the decent actor that is shat....mind you, the more you try to hide something (baldness in his case) the more it comes out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Lennon/Ono picture in this context is absolutely priceless. XD

    ReplyDelete
  3. a very rare pic of a shatcombover there I think, no piece....first saw this in an episode of "Police Surgeon" with Sam Groom early 70's when I first realised the shocking bald truth

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thomas Jefferson CurlyNovember 14, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    that South Carolina parade footage is kind of eerie and unsettling...the silent B&W, jumpy, JFKness of it...

    its not Shatner but Captain Kirk in the 1960s!

    feels like some Area 51 top secret footage of a starship commander from the future who landed in the 60s..

    if they ever do another Trek show on tv they could probably build an episode around it

    ReplyDelete
  5. shats own real syrupNovember 15, 2011 at 6:06 PM

    @ anon? what do you mean a combover? Shatner has a bald spot, in 1956 so he basically had almost no hair to comb, whatsoever in 1968, in the photo he is fully touped up...

    ReplyDelete
  6. James Toupeerius KirkNovember 15, 2011 at 10:26 PM

    Toupeerius is MY name, dammit!!! ;-)

    ...the Hair-Peace pic is the best!

    I think "shats own real syrup" is correct - we all know, there was not enough real hair left for any kind of combover at that time!

    I wonder if that was one of Shatner's stolen pieces, the natural rest of the hair grown too long, a bit of hairspray or styling gel on top, all that combined with the stormy sea - a match made in hell!

    And to "WSSTS":

    There are a few moments in TMP with Shatner in the cpt's chair looking on the floor (don't ask for the exact time during the movie) - perhaps to show us that the patty is glued, or because he fell asleep.

    Just wanted to mention that!

    ReplyDelete
  7. James Toupeerius KirkNovember 15, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    ...sorry, to make the point: can you see the scalp in HD, or some knots in the thick patty - worth investigating...I'll do so when I got the Blu Ray!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ratty Lost Years PieceNovember 16, 2011 at 1:20 AM

    OK, I'll bite:

    "I talked more quickly, more vehemently but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about ruffles, and a high hairline and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why WOULD they not be gone? I paced. The floor to and frowithheavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men, but the noise steadily increased. O God! what COULD I do? I foamed -- I raved -- I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder -- louder -- louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly , and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! -- no, no? They heard! -- they suspected! -- they KNEW! -- they were making a mockery of my hair loss! -- this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! -- and now -- again -- hark! louder! louder! louder! LOUDER! --

    "Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! -- tear up the planks! -- here, here! -- it is the rustling of this hideous hairpiece!"

    ReplyDelete