Wednesday, August 19, 2009

1973, the toupee nadir and more old meets new...

Impulse (1974).

We've previously tried to find examples where old toupee styles make a sudden reappearance. There aren't many of them, but we have managed to unearth a new great example from 1974 - the same year that Shatner reached a toupee low-point with the movie Impulse. More on the old styles making a comeback in a moment.

The book Encyclopedia Shatnerica lists the 1974 film Impulse as its choice of Shatner's worst ever toupee. We've been reluctant to get into this, as we try to be a little more detached (if you'll pardon the pun) here at Shatner'sToupee. But if we were pressed, we would have to choose the photos of Bill Shatner's wedding (to actress Marcy Lafferty) from just a year before for that honor. The toupee is so bad and the occasion so wanting of Bill not to be wearing a bad toup that we felt we had no choice here but to label it our own personal worst ever toupee moment.

Yet, Bill appears to have decidedly moved away from this toupee wedding-related and then Impulse nadir very quickly. Call it a toupee renaissance, if you will. The birth of better times. Very soon after, the old "Jim Kirk look" (or something very close to it) makes a sudden return. Here are two stills from Shatner's 1974 appearance on Good Night America (video uploaded to YouTube by "FilmsRreel").

Not only is the toupee better, but Bill is far leaner and far happier-looking.

He has a new wife and flattering Star Trek revival talk is reaching fever-pitch across America. Were the bad toupees a cry for help? Is toupee quality correlated to Bill Shatner's emotional state? Did the "Jim Kirk"-style toupee bring back good memories? Who knows? A year later, Bill was evidently still on a high, and still wearing his revived "Jim Kirk" toupee for the TV movie The Tenth Level. Was this a way to get Paramount to notice that Shatner was still in good shape should a new Star Trek film or TV series truly be considered?

The Tenth Level (1975).

This "Jim Kirk-Phase II" look even lasted through the 1975 feature-film The Devil's Rain, albeit somewhat more diluted (meaning more wig, less lace). This is evidently not the same toupee that Shatner wore in his 1974 appearance on Good Night America - that was likely his own expensive toupee bought as a result of some decent paycheck coming through from a recent project, maybe even the Star Trek animated series. But toupees wear out quickly and the "Jim Kirk" look is expensive and cumbersome to attach compared to hairpieces that obscure the hairline.

The Devil's Rain (1975).

The short-lived 1975 TV series Barbary Coast is yet another example of this "Jim Kirk-Phase II" look.

There are probably a few examples during this period of the dreadful toupees of the early 1970s making a return - possibly on some of the gameshow appearances Shats did during this time, but the "Jim Kirk-Phase II" (1974-1975) has emerged as a fresh subcategory in our toupee timeline.

Then, only a year later, the new "curly look" of the later Star Trek movies as well as T.J. Hooker was born, most notably in the Columbo episode "Fade in to Murder". Did Bill decide it was time to stop looking back? Did the rollercoaster ride of Star Trek's long and as yet still unrealized road to revival make the actor consciously decide to move on with a new hairstyle? We can only guess as to the many motivations at play in the world of Shatner's toupee.

Bill Shatner in the very entertaining and well worth watching 1976 Columbo episode "Fade in to Murder".


  1. There's a book called The Making of the Trek Conventions by Joan Winston. She took some pics of Shat at the conventions held in the mid 70's that were published in this book. Some monster rugs were in rotation during those times.

  2. this site has some pics from Shat's classic role as Deaver Wallace in "Incident on a Dark Street"

  3. Here's a suggestion -

    Why not gather up a set of pictures from various decades where Shatner's face is posed the same way, and then stack them side-by-side?

    It'd be cool to see the evolution of the toupees from pre-TOS, TOS1, TOS2, TOS3, 70's TV, TMP, TWOK, TSFS, TVH, TFF, TUC, Generations, 90's TV/Film, and today.

  4. Shatner really aged quickly in the mid-70s -- he looked a lot older in the Columbo episode than he did in the Tenth Level.

  5. Amazing article. Seeing evidence of the evolution of the rug never ceases to amaze me. To those who complain that this blog is pointless, I say: Get a life. Understanding Shatner's rug is a noble goal in life, something worth achieving. Because to truly understand the rug is to understand a fundamental Truth of reality itself.