Sunday, September 13, 2009

Toup-less in Studio One: "The Defender".

We have to admit to previously not paying 1957's live television two-parter Studio One: "The Defender" a close enough look. But there is much to look at in the realm of Bill Shatner's hair - we had assumed that this was a straight-forward example of toupage, but upon closer examination, things now appear a little different.

Studio One: "The Defender" featured Bill Shatner, Steve McQueen, Martin Balsam, Ralph Bellamy and several other actors in a made-for-TV courtroom drama. According to "A young criminal attorney and his firm-owning father defend a 19 year-old on trial for a murder that he swears he did not commit. Personal conflicts arise with the attorney and his father while the prosecution puts on a dramatic and convincing argument of guilt." Shatner plays lawyer Kenneth Preston. The two episodes were later cleverly referenced and partially utilized in the third season Boston Legal episode "Son of the Defender".

In some scenes (perhaps a full episode) of this two-part broadcast, Bill Shatner appears to be toup-less. 1957 was the pivotal year in Shats' career when he finally started to use hairpieces (for example in the movie The Brothers Karamazov) - though not yet always.

We can say with some confidence that Shats is toup-less in the below image, likely relying on sprays to thicken up the increasingly thinning hair at the top and back:

More toup-less images - the same comb-back that has become slightly ruffled:

Yet there are a few pictures (possibly including the one at the top of this post) out there of the same show, where it seems possible that Shats was wearing a toup to thicken up the top of his head:

The hair in the above photos appears far too thick for Shatner's real hair state at this time.

Is it possible that during part one there was no toup and then by part two, Shats decided to thicken up?

We really don't know at this point, and are merely speculating based on a few pictures. But we certainly believe that this deserves more toupological study. In the meantime, let's look at the overall visual evidence chronologically. Below is Bill Shatner in Goodyear Television Playhouse: "All Summer Long"- filmed 28th October 1956. No toup:

The first part of Studio One: "The Defender" was filmed on 25th February 1957; the second on 4th March 1957:

Below is Shats, still toup-less, in 1957's Alfred Hitchcock Presents story "The Glass Eye" broadcast 6th October 1957. In this case, the episode was filmed and edited before broadcast, which means it probably represents Shatner at around June-September 1957, though possibly even earlier:

This is Shats in Studio One: "No Deadly Medicine" - filmed 9th December 1957 - the hair loss was now evidently taking place very, very quickly. The longer hair designed to comb over thinner areas has now been cut:

And after that, it was all toup, toup, toup all the time. Below is Shats fully touped-up and ready to go in Playhouse 90: "A Town Has Turned to Dust" - filmed June 19th 1958:

UPDATE: We've since done a more detailed analysis of "The Defender" - click here to read.


  1. You've been neglecting your toupological studies? Solving the question of toupage in 1957's The Defender is essential.

  2. Shatner GIF