Friday, August 28, 2009

Shatner's toupee lobotomy analogy.

There have only been a few instances where Bill Shatner has faced direct (non-comedic) point-blank questions about whether or not he wears a toupee. Thus far, we've had the MJ Kelli incident (we ruled on Shats' denial in that case with out Shat-no-meter here). There was also a clear toupee denial during a 2008 interview conducted by the British newspaper The Telegraph.

Well, it seems that the British press has been at it again. We've located a January 2006 story on Shats from The Times of London entitled "Man of Enterprise". The article contains the following nugget:

"Once asked whether he wore a hairpiece, [Shatner] replied: 'It’s a question that I find like asking somebody, "Did you have a breast implant?" or "When did you get your lobotomy?" ' "

This is a quote that has since been picked up by a variety of websites including Wikipedia and Sadly, not one, and that includes the Times story, has provided us with an original source. But since we very much doubt that the respectable Times is in the habit of making up quotes, we will accept that Bill Shatner did indeed say this - when and to whom, however, remains a mystery.

The quote is interesting in that Shats essentially compares apples and oranges with his second lobotomy analogy. Lobotomies were a particularly severe "treatment" for psychiatric disorders which left lasting results in patients. The entry in Wikipedia notes that "lobotomies fell out of common use and the procedure has since been characterized 'as one of the most barbaric mistakes ever perpetrated by mainstream medicine.' "

Meanwhile, breast implants, provided that they are cosmetic and not necessitated by, for example, a cancer-related mastectomy, are in quite a different league.

But in fairness to Shats, we understand that he is essentially trying to convey that in his mind, the toupee question is a deeply personal one; a private clinical matter in which a toupee might serve to correct what he sees as a natural defect, in this case baldness. Or perhaps, the inference is that the questioner should feel as uncomfortable asking Shats about his hair as they might feel asking a lobotomy patient about their operation.

Yet many celebrities, including Star Trek co-star Walter Koenig, aren't quite as sensitive about the matter. Below is Koenig talking to interviewer Justin Lee Collins in the May 2009 show Bring Back Star Trek. The actor not only pokes fun at his own hairpiece, both now and then, but relates that the hairpiece is something that both he and Shatner had in common in the 1960s series:

Ironically, Bill Shatner mentions his co-star's on-screen (not off-screen) toupee in his 1993 book Star Trek Memories:

" look at Chekov's first couple of episodes, and the rather bushy toupee he was forced to wear, will illustrate the Monkee mimicry beyond a shadow of a doubt." (page 225)

Anyway, since the Times quote was published, Shats has faced all kinds of in-your-face jokes about his toupee. He has even rhetorically asked "Do I wear a toupee?" in his autobiography Up Till Now. So, perhaps he doesn't see the issue quite as rigidly as he did only a few years ago - it really isn't like asking whether you have had a lobotomy, Bill, because in that case, you probably wouldn't have been able to give us a proper answer!


  1. Was Shatner's toupee a Democrat or Republican? It may have switched sides a couple times, but there is probably a stronger allegiance to Republicans. It had an affinity for coverups.
    (like Watergate)

  2. Is Chekov wearing a racoon?

  3. this is quite interesting, as in a round about, way without thinking, about his answer, is admiting that, he does wear a toup. Well that what i got out of it anyway.

  4. That thing on top of Walter Koenig's head looks comfortable, at least.