Monday, November 2, 2009

150th post - more on the moving story.

150 posts! Who would believe it? And still going strong, with plenty left to explore...

In our 100th post, we brought you what we thought was a very moving story. It concerned an industry source we contacted, and who wished to remain anonymous, recalling a conversation he had had with Bill Campbell, who played the character of Trelane in the Star Trek episode "The Squire of Gothos". Basically, the story he recalled being told by Campbell was that in November 1966, when Bill Shatner arrived on his motorbike at Campbell's house to rehearse his sword-fighting scenes for "The Squire of Gothos", Shats came without his toupee. But, unbeknownst to him, Campbell had told some local kids that Captain Kirk would be there. Shatner was hurt when the kids didn't believe that this bald guy was Captain Kirk.

William J. Campbell as Trelane in "The Squire of Gothos"

Well, it turns out that we have found a version of this story from a first-hand source - William Campbell himself. However, a few details are different. The quote below is from the December 1991 issue of the magazine Cinefantastique. A story in the magazine covers a Star Trek convention (called "Sea Trek") that took place on a boat. Cinefantastique quotes Campbell as saying the following at a public question and answer session with Trek fans:

"I have a marvelous story on Bill Shatner, which I can tell because he is able to laugh at it. Everyone knows that when Shatner goes from one series to another, his hairdo changes dramatically. I remember one wig he had which made him look like Shirley Temple!

"When we were doing 'The Trouble with Tribbles' [a Star Trek episode in which Campbell made his second appearance in the series -ST], Shatner called me and said, 'I have a script that I own that I would like you to look at, which could possibly be produced through your connections in Yugoslavia.' Shatner planned to come out to my place the next day with the script. My wife told the kids that Captain Kirk was coming to our house. The next day, there are thirty kids out in front, waiting for Captain Kirk to arrive.

"I see a motorcycle pull up and this guy parks it. He was bald. I did not recognize him at first as Shatner! The kids see him but don't recognize him either. Bill said that he did not wear his toupee whenever possible for comfort reasons. Shatner saw all of those kids but was smart enough not to tip off to them, so they never knew who they saw."

Bill Campbell's descriptions are clearly not colored by negative emotions directed at Bill Shatner as is often the case with Shatner toupee stories. Indeed, one senses a lightheartedness and camaraderie stemming from the tone of the above story. In fact, one might even say that Bill Campbell is somewhat naïve in that Bill Shatner isn't anywhere near as open or publicly self-deprecating about his toupee use as Campbell seems to think he is!

Shatner, touped up, with wife Gloria Rand. Image sourced here.

Anyway, there are some very interesting statements in the above quote. The first is that "[Shatner] is able to laugh at it." We have no examples of Bill Shatner laughing or reacting jovially to stories of his toupee use (examples like the Comedy Central Roast are indirect at best). Thus, what Campbell is likely suggesting is that privately, among friends and colleagues, the toupee may not be as much of an issue as in the public arena.

Secondly, we have "Bill said that he did not wear his toupee whenever possible for comfort reasons." This would also appear to suggest a private preference - again, that is certainly not the case in public. This statement is also a unique (we have found no others) hearsay account of Bill Shatner actually discussing his own toupee use and the various preferences that he has regarding its usage. In itself, that is particularly remarkable.

William J. Campbell in "The Trouble with Tribbles"

Finally, we have "
Shatner saw all of those kids but was smart enough not to tip off to them, so they never knew who they saw." This, along with several other aspects of the story relayed above differs somewhat what we originally presented to you via our source. There, the children laughed at the bald Bill Shatner. In this version, they did not recognize him. There, it was a rehearsal for "The Squire of Gothos", here it is a script being brought over during "The Trouble With Tribbles".

There could be a number of reasons for this. First, our source has recalled it incorrectly (
we contacted him again, and he reaffirmed his recollection the story). The second option is that Bill Campbell, as is often the case with decades-old stories, has changed his recollections. After all, how many contradicting versions are there of the famous "Star Trek first interracial kiss story"? The final option is that Campbell tells a version in public that protects Bill Shatner's image a little better. Who knows? It is possible that it is a combination of the last two.


  1. I remember Harlan Ellison telling a very similar story during a convention appearance in the mid-1980s. In Ellison's version, Shatner pulls up to his house on the motorcycle and the toupee falls off, ruining the illusion. This may in fact be one of those "shaggy rug" stories that get passed around Hollywood with a few new wrinkles depending on who's telling it.--Robert Schnakenberg, author, The Encyclopedia Shatnerica

  2. So Shatner was bald during the original run of Star Trek? Also, Bill Campbell told a story of how Shat was irritated at him during Squire of Gothos because Campbell wanted a particular wig to wear during the courtroom scene and wouldn't continue when the wrong one was delivered to the set. If anyone should appreciate the importance of wearing the proper wig, it should be Shat.

  3. I found this interview with BillShat that was conducted during a promo tour for the Star Trek VI movie. In it, the interviewer mentions the campaign that was being conducted at that time by a group that put up posters of bald celebs in an effort to get them to admit they wore toupees. The response is classic Shat.