Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Poll result and more on the lace.

Thanks for voting. One factor that would be very different today would be the press. Were a young William Shatner, star of the ratings hit (today, Star Trek with the very same ratings would be considered a huge hit, in particular because of the way that audience demographics are now factored-in, rather than just straight viewing figures. Back in the 60s, Star Trek had one of the most appealing demographics out there to advertisers - but they hadn't yet switched to using a mechanism that measured this.) known as Star Trek, to be a secret toupee user, the press would have gone out of their way to reveal this. Up until at least the first year of Trek, Bill Shatner was sometimes still going around toup-less when not in the public arena. Today, a young Shatner today would face some very different choices in light of the ever-relentless paparazzi.


On a separate note, we welcome some of our newest readers and commenters. One particular issue that commenter "Al" mentioned was that of the frontal lace - arguing that perhaps Bill Shatner's frontal hairline was real during the early phases of toup. We try to be very careful with what and how we assert certain toupee points (for example the current plugs or no plugs debate) but in the case of the frontal lace, we can say with absolute confidence that there is a large body of strong evidence out there that on-screen, Bill Shatner's frontal hairline permanently disappeared behind a toupee around 1958 and has not been seen since (on-stage, it was about a year or so later). While Bill Shatner went bald from the back first, it wasn't long before the front gave out too.

Here's Bill Shatner in 1959 wearing his beloved frontal lace, with its characteristic thick swoosh:

Bill Shatner in CBS's The Story of a Gunfighter (1959)

In the book Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, the lace line was described by Star Trek producer Bob Justman thus (see here for more on this book):

"My gaze shifted to his (Shatner's) hairline. Examining balding actors' hairlines was a habit I'd picked up over the years. The 'lace' that anchored the front of his toupee glistened. I made a mental note of it to tell the makeup man about it before we filmed again."

A gust of upward wind highlights the frontal toupee, which was anchored by a v-shaped very thin lace "skin" (visible in high-quality remastered prints) that protruded slightly down along the forehead.

Interestingly, Bill Shatner still had a frontal hairline as late as 1958-1959's New York stage production of The World of Suzie Wong. Indeed, we believe that this may have been the last ever public appearance of Bill Shatner sans toupee - by this time, he was already wearing a toupee on-screen and on-stage touping-up soon followed, perhaps even during the play's (often stressful) two-year run.

Bill Shatner in The World of Suzie Wong late 1958 - early 1959. Still no frontal toup.

Spray, combing or a brief undocumented period of using a rear-only toup? See this clip from Cheers to see how they work.

So, on-screen Bill Shatner started wearing a frontal lace a little earlier than he absolutely needed to. While his hair at the back thinned, the frontal hairline likely remained in some form through to the early 1960s.

If there is one famous person who's pattern of balding appears to match Bill Shatner's, then it is perhaps Britain's Prince William who at 27 actually appears to be about three years more severe in pace than Bill Shatner:

This would probably match Bill Shatner, circa 1960.

This would probably match Bill Shatner circa 1962.

Anyway, we've examined this issue many times at this site - over the festive season, when we won't be posting as much, we'll try to take some time to improve our listing and indexing of old posts in order to make them easier to locate.


  1. A modern-day actor that's sort of an analogue of a young BillShat is jeremy Piven, who toups up constantly (on-screen and off-screen)

  2. Found this re Piven, very Shat-esque:
    (scroll down to the last article)

  3. Great caption on the Piven photos. Why doesn't he just do the hair transplant instead of the toup?

  4. With respect, the Trek still shows exactly what I claimed. There are evidently hairs at the front of Shatner's head that belong to him. If you look at the Prince William photo you can imagine how the toupee would be fitted.

    No real proof can be adduced from earlier, cruder versions he wore in other programmes. The Trek wig was very sophisticated for its time - or we would not be discussing Is it, Isn't it 45 years later

  5. PS
    I would add that actors with full heads of hair often wear wigs on stage or in film simply because of the consistency it affords the production. So it just isn't as easy as charting a line of hair loss vs wig wearing. It's perfectly possible that WS wore a wig when he still had hair and wore different types of wigs for that matter. To give you a contemporary example, Leonard Nimoy has a full head of hair, but he wore wig in the new Star Trek movie

  6. Chrome(dome)magnonMarch 31, 2017 at 10:07 PM

    Do these photos show a possible genetic connection between Mr Shatner and royalty? Is it possible, at some point in the dim and distant past, that Great Grandfather Shatner was outcast from the Royal Family? Now could be the time to start a world-wide petition to see if DNA tests can be done to see if Bill could and maybe should be a Knight of the Realm (or some such nonsense). If true, would Bill have to go toupless as surely the laws of the land, and even tradition, would not permit the wearing of a toup under a crown? If Mr Shatner were on the horns of such a dilemma, could he reveal all in order to receive and display the most majestic of decorations?