Thursday, July 23, 2009

William Shatner makes another oblique toupee inference.

The 2008 autobiography Up Till Now - written by William Shatner with David Fisher.

There was an incident during the run of the original Star Trek that caused some friction between William Shatner and co-star Leonard Nimoy. The pair quickly made up and have since become very close friends, but back in 1967, William Shatner took exception to a makeup room photoshoot in which the application of the Spock makeup would be made public. The incident has been dealt with in several Trek-related books and Bill Shatner has previously conceded that his own jealousy of Nimoy's popularity (who is the star of this show?) was at the root of his angry reaction. It is something, he says, that he had to struggle to come to terms with in the early days of Star Trek.

But was the anger not just about popularity but also about Shatner's toupee?

The photoshoot that caused friction between Shatner and Nimoy. Sourced from

In his brilliantly entertaining 2008 autobiography Up Till Now William Shatner tells the story with an additional twist he has never alluded to before. There is a secret at play. What might that secret be?:

"Leonard felt that Freddy [Phillips, Star Trek's makeup artist] had prevented Spock from becoming some kind of visual joke. So when a magazine wanted to do a photo story about his makeup process, featuring Freddy, he agreed. But nobody told me about it.

"We began filming every morning at 8 a.m. Leonard reported to makeup at about 6:30, but I got there about forty-five minutes later. One morning I came to work and found the photographer in the makeup room snapping away. I didn't like that at all; I was concerned all of my little makeup secrets were going to be revealed. And no, I can't tell you what they are. That's why they are secrets. So I asked someone, justifiably, I thought, 'What's the photographer doing in the makeup room?' (emphasis ours)

"The photographer quietly left the room. Leonard and Freddy waited for him to return but he never came back. Eventually Leonard was told that at my insistence an assistant director had forced the photographer to leave. Leonard was furious. He immediately came to my trailer to confront me. 'Did you order the photographer out?' he demanded.

'Yes,' I admitted, explaining, 'I didn't want him there.'"

Now what were those secrets? It it very likely that Bill Shatner is referring to the fact that he would come into work bald, sit down next to Leonard Nimoy in the makeup room, and then have his hairpiece applied. He understandably didn't want those secrets (Captain Kirk is bald!) appearing in some magazine.

If we do the simple maths: Bill Shatner arrived at makeup a full forty-five minutes before he was due on set and forty-five minutes after Nimoy arrived to have his latex ears arduously applied. If he just had basic makeup applied, then he could have come in later. But during that forty-five minutes, the intricate process of laying on the rug was also undertaken.

In the book Inside Star Trek: The Real Story Desilu head of production Herb Solow recalls the same incident:

"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)

So in summary: Again we see that Bill Shatner is slowly thawing from the days of outright toup denial - instead peppering his recollections with inferences, albeit still oblique ones, to his hairpiece. Perhaps he had read Herb Solow's account of the Nimoy incident and didn't want to lie about or ignore the toupee factor.

Who knows, maybe in a few years he will openly discuss his baldness in an interview without the subject hitting Shatner's raw nerve.

By the way, we haven't read any of the biographies by the "gang of four" (Doohan, Takei, Koenig and Nichols). If anyone out there has and spots a toup reference, please let us know.


  1. william has loads, of make-up secrets, by 1967, his hair had long gone, apart form the back and sides. His whole look on star trek, was false. He wear at least 3 inch lifts, as he was short, and he was gaining weight at a rate, of knots! So the tummy, had to be hold in at all cost. He was a 36 year old men, who must have looked, 46 before the work was done!, so they made him look, young slim, and tall, when in reality, he looked fat, middle-age, short and bald.

  2. Fascinating, as a certain Vulcan might say.