Thursday, December 3, 2009

A big bald head.

Bill Shatner's first ever feature-film appearance - one that at that point seemed to present a trajectory towards eventual leading man status - was in the 1958 movie The Brothers Karamazov based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky's famous novel. "This was my big break, this role was going to make me a star," reflected Bill Shatner in his wonderful and very funny autobiography Up Till Now.

The actor moved to L.A. with his wife Gloria in order to perform in the movie, which was shot in 1957. Despite still having (albeit thinning) hair of his own, there evidently wasn't enough of it to be trimmed into the short, bowl-shaped hairstyle that the character of Alexej Karamazov, a prospective monk, required. Thus, Bill Shatner began his movie career wearing a wig.

Upon the movie's release, many posters simply featured a large picture of the head of the movie's star Yul Brynner (who as reader "RM" recently commented kept kicking Bill Shatner in the pants during the shoot for some reason). So, not only did Bill Shatner begin his movie career wearing a wig, but the first ever time he saw his name on a movie poster, the dominant image was that of a big bald head! Perhaps there was a message there somewhere - success without a toupee is possible too!


  1. There was an interview with the director of this film, Richard brooks, on Canadian TV awhile ago. He claimed that the original intention was to film on location in Russia. When certain people at MGM found out, they grew very nervous and insisted that they film in the USA instead. The time frame of the Cold War and Red Scare in the US made some people uncomfortable with the idea of going to Russia, that they might be linked in some way to Communism.

    That's why, he claimed, that almost all of the exterior shots in the film are set during nighttime, because they were forced to use the studio backlot and didn't have enough time to scout for other locations.

  2. When I saw this movie for te first time, I didn´t know about the beautiful world of fake hair. How naive I was! I just thought that in the fifties Mr. Shatner was a guy with a crew cut and had let his hair grow back in the ST days.

  3. Your posts are becoming too abstract. We want more pictures of bald Shatner.

  4. @RM - that's too bad about not being able to film in Russia.... Watching the film, it's obvious they were filming on a studio set -- it kind of detracts.

    I didn't think the movie was very good, whether or not they filmed on set or on location, though -- too much of a star vehicle for Yul Brynner.