Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Did Shatner go without his frontal hairpiece in "The Enterprise Incident"?

Cinefantastique magazine once claimed that William Shatner did not wear his frontal hairpiece while made-up as a Romulan in the Star Trek episode "The Enterprise Incident" (we don't have the Cinefantastique quotes unfortunately - if you do, please send). Similar claims have been made for the episodes "The Tholain Web" and "The Deadly Years." But are these claims true? Let's focus on "The Enterprise Incident."

It is difficult to ascertain. The best we can say conclusively is that there is a strong possibility, at least in one or two scenes. The below photo shows Shatner's Nixon-esque receding hairline in a way that was not normally visible. Plus, Kirk's characteristic frontal hair swoosh is missing. So it is possible that that main rear toup is carrying the load of concealing Shatner's baldness, while the front of the forehead is indeed Shatner's real thinning hair combed back over the rear toup. It is tough to say - we would say there is a small possibility of the claim being true.

George Takei's Shatner toup references during somewhat cringeworthy Comedy Roast segment.

Roast of William Shatner
George Takei, pt. 2
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A clip from the 2006 Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner in which George Takei takes some very direct shots at William Shatner's toupee wearing. Shats just smiles/cringes.

Is this funny or just a mean way for Takei to try to publicly humiliate Shats? There is obviously not much good blood between George Takei and William Shatner, so roasting someone whom you really don't like is always tricky as the emotions can override the humor. Plus the gay innuendo isn't really that funny. Sorry Takei, we're with Shats on this - he was the star of Star Trek - leave him alone.

The lace line...

"Spectre of the Gun".

Star Trek has never been seen at this resolution and quality before. When it was first broadcast, Star Trek was viewed by many Americans in black & white, watching 525 scan lines of a not-so-well telecined 16mm or 35 print. Either way, the resolution and quality available in the DVD re-masters and now the HD re-masters of the original 35mm negatives is showing up a lot more detail than was originally intended that the viewer would see.

"The Ultimate Computer".

One consequence of this is that the frontal lace line of William Shatner's toup is becoming easier to spot.

Below (and at the top of this article) are some screengrabs from the third season episode "Spectre of the Gun". In this scene, the wind blows Shatner's frontal piece upwards exposing the unnaturally thick harshness of the toup line. The lace line is also visible.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Did Shatner wear a toup right from the start of Star Trek?

There has been some speculation as to whether William Shatner really wore a toup right from the very start - his appearance in the second Star Trek pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before"which was filmed in the summer of 1965. The answer is undoubtedly yes.

As we noted before, the toup is notorious for having to look almost too perfect in order not to look odd. This comes into play in the final fight scenes in "Where No Man Has Gone Before". What we see as a result of the fighting is Shatner's real hair at the sides become more bulky than the toup hair at the top - which makes the toup look a little like a skull cap.

What we see from this picture is that Shatner's main hairpiece covering his crown, though large, was indeed very light at this early stage. Indeed, it is partially transparent at the sides. The frontal lace hairpiece was also less "heavy" than in later years.

Note: The frontal lace hairpiece is made from a very thin base material, rather like the white net curtains one hangs on windows - except considerably thinner. Into this is woven human hair in small knots. This is then glued onto the head. In Shatner's case, the light frontal hairpiece was glued at the front of his head, meaning the makeup people had to be very careful that the lace line did not show up on film on his forehead. The rear hairpiece would have been anchored at the top with clips or tape rather than glued.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The flip technique.

One of the ways that can be used to show toup wearage is to flip an image around horizontally. Why this is so effective is unclear exactly, but what it appears to do is to throw the sense of familiarity and re-focus the mind on the "un-naturalness" of the hair-style. The classis toup swoosh style that Shatner wore is in itself somewhat unnatural - real human hair doesn't really comb that way.

So what would Shatner have looked like close-up without his toup?

Probably something like this...

UPDATE: We have better effort here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

An appeal to Shatner fans.

Dear readers, please send (just post a comment at this site) any quotes in magazines, books and fanzines related to Shatner's toupee that you know of - from anyone that might have had first-hand knowledge or experience. And, of course any photos too. Thanks!

New toupless photos?!

Many thanks to a reader who pointed these out. We have a new set of photos of William Shatner apparently (or not) without his toupee, from the book Captain Quirk: The Unauthorized Biography of William Shatner. These are from around 1966-7 and feature Shatner (with his first wife and daughters in the lower picture, one of whom appeared in the Star Trek episode "Miri"). Whether or not Shats is wearing a hairpiece here, it is clear that Shatner was not Patrick Stewart bald during the filming of TOS, but rather Richard Nixon thinning. See here for more on that.

What you can't see from these angles, but can nonetheless sense is the lack of bulk at the top rear of the head, where the most thinning was taking place. Is the frontal hair swoosh Shats' own?

We welcome any suggestions and comments. Only with your help can we make this the definitive oracle on Shatner's toup.

UPDATE: A better resolution photo, albeit watermarked. Is this a toupless Shats?

UPDATE II: One of our earlier posts. Since publishing this piece, more toupological information has come to light, which suggests that these are indeed typical "Jim Kirk lace" images - although perhaps self-applied, hence a slightly higher hairline.

How soon did Shatner start going bald?

(UPDATE: See here for more on this question)

William Shatner started thinning in his mid to late twenties. The image below from 1957's Studio One: The Defender highlights just how thin his hair was by the mere age of 28 (more on this here).

Below we have a few stills from the 1958 film The Brothers Karamazov. Here Shatner is already wearing a hairpiece, although in this case it is probably best described as a simple wig. The point though is that the hair-stylists evidently didn't have much natural hair to play around with.

Finally, below we have a TV appearance from 1960 in The Twilight Zone (episode "Nick of Time"). Here, Shatner already displays his famous lace hairpiece similar to the one he wore on Star Trek.

More on the missing hairpieces.

February 5, 1968

From: Bob Justman

To: Gene Roddenberry

If you haven't already heard about it, we are missing some wigs and hair pieces. Bill Shatner borrowed all four of his hair pieces when we finished shooting. There are two new ones and two old ones. The new ones are worth approximately $200 apiece and the two old ones are worth approximately $100 a piece. Should Star Trek go again next season, this no doubt means that we will have to construct new hair pieces again for Bill because he will have used both the old ones and the new ones to such an extent that they will not be photographable. This I guarantee, since it has happened to us before.

From a memo reprinted in Star Trek Creator: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry by David Alexander, 1994. (Sourced
here from the internet)

Hair-loss doctor comments on Shatner.

From the New York Times. Article here:

Dr. Hitzig, who has been performing hair-transplant surgery for 25 years and is the author of the book Help and Hope for Hair Loss, said that when it comes to hairpieces, less is definitely better.

Take William Shatner. ''When he was on
Star Trek, he wore a very fine hairpiece,'' Dr. Hitzig said. ''It was a lace hairpiece and he had less hair on it, so it looked more natural. Then when he became T. J. Hooker he put what looked like a dead rat on his head, and everybody knew he was wearing a hairpiece.''

When toups go wrong.

Here, the main rear hairpiece is positioned slightly sideways as opposed to backwards...

One of the telltale signs of Shatner's toup is how perfectly arranged it had to be in order for it to seem normal. Real hair doesn't act that way. So, the slightest odd combing or arrangement, and suddenly, the whole trick is blown - (that is why action sequences were particularly tricky - more on that later). Here are a few examples from the Star Trek episodes "The Omega Glory"and "Elaan of Troyius" in which either hairstylist Freddie Phillips was away or everyone was a bit tired and didn't notice.

Same mistake here. The rear toup suddenly looks like it might slip off and gives the impression of oddly long hair. The "backcomb" toup that covers the crown must be perfectly placed to maintain the illusion.

Slightly off.

Shatner's two-piece toup: more info.

Shatner's two toupees...

There have been suggestions (we'll try to de-weasel that with some evidence) that William Shatner actually wore two toupees. The first was a large hairpiece that covered his balding crown. The second was a smaller piece at the front of his head, designed to thicken his hair up just a little. In some episodes of Star Trek, it appears that Shatner went without the frontal piece, or wore a lighter one than usual. This appears to be the case in the episode "The Tholian Web" for the scenes in which Shatner's face is partially obscured by a space helmet as well as in the episode "The Enterprise Incident" while Shatner is in Romulan makeup. Another example appears to be the central aging stage in the episode "The Deadly Years".

Clues from Klugman...

Some actors are pretty open about their toupee escapades - sometimes wearing them, sometimes not. One example is Jack Klugman - alias Quincy. Notice the similar toupee hairstyle between Quincy and Captain Kirk. This style was also worn by the actor Warren Stevens in the Star Trek episode "By Any Other Name":

Bill Shatner's toup dislodged by fall...

Some stills from the third season Star Trek episode "The Empath." Note: This isn't a stunt double, honest!

How bald was Shatner in TOS?

Roger C. Carmel

Two myths around William Shatner's baldness in TOS: One, he was as bald as Patrick Stewart; two, he wasn't bald at all. Neither are true. In fact, in TOS (including the second pilot that is 1965-69), Shatner was somewhere in-between Richard Nixon and Jack Cafferty and he got balder throughout the run of the show. Another comparison is with Roger C. Carmel, who played Harry Mudd in Star Trek- they both had similar hair. Shatner had most hair-loss in the centre of the crown, and retained some hair at the top front of his head, though this grew progressively thinner.

In 1965, Shatner probably looked more like this.

By the end of Star Trek in 1969, he likely looked a little more like this.

Shatner's hairpiece - extracts from Inside Star Trek book.

Herb Solow: "Jimmy Doohan was there too. He recalls that 'Bill's hairpiece was being applied. The top of his head was a lot of skin and a few little odd tufts of hair. The mirrors in the makeup room walls were arranged so that we could all see the laying on of his rug.'" (page 236)

Bob Justman: "My gaze shifted to his (Shatner's) hairline. Examining balding actors' hairlines was a habit I'd picked up over the years. The 'lace' that anchored the front of his toupee glistened. I made a mental note of it to tell the makeup man about it before we filmed again. I was tempted to ask Bill if he had ever found the so-called missing hairpiece. But no, discretion was the better part of valor." (page 341)

Only known picture of William Shatner without toupee (or not - we've since found more).

William Shatner with his first wife Gloria Rand circa 1957. The pair divorced in 1969. Photograph sourced from here.

UPDATE: See here for more info on the above picture.

William Shatner with his wife and daughter.

In the above picture, Shatner is wearing a toupee, but not of the expensive lace variety. This is likely one of Bill Shatner's own toupees which would have been considered unsuitable for filming.

Welcome to Shatner's Toupee

Welcome to Shatner's Toupee, the definitive resource regarding William Shatner's toupee. What we will try to do here is to piece together all the clues and try to resolve some of the mysteries...Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave your messages in the comments sections. We are big fans of Shatner and our aim is not to ridicule but rather to inform. There are a lot of misperceptions about Shatner's toupee, so let's try to set the record straight!