Friday, February 12, 2010

The "Jim" just for Jim?

Here's a question: From the day in May 1966 that Bill Shatner reported for work on Star Trek's first production episode "The Corbomite Maneuver", until the very final day of shooting on the series on January 9th 1969, what other dramatic film or television appearances did Bill Shatner make?

Not many it turns out; the rigors of working on Star Trek evidently didn't leave too much room for other projects (Bill Shatner did however make numerous appearances on quiz, interview shows and other public events during this period). Indeed, thus far we've only found two dramatic projects: the 1968 movie White Comanche (or Comanche Blanco)...

...and the TV movie Perilous Voyage, also filmed in 1968 (but not actually broadcast until 1976). Comanche was filmed during the hiatus between Star Trek's first and second seasons, while Perilous Voyage was filmed between Star Trek's second and third seasons.

William Shatner in Perilous Voyage (1968/1976).

By the time that Bill Shatner was cast in Star Trek, the "Jim Kirk lace" had become the standard hair for almost all of the actor's appearances on film and television. Just one example, here's Bill Shatner in 1961's The Explosive Generation:

So why when Star Trek began did Bill Shatner suddenly decide to use different toupees for his other projects? Both in White Comanche and Perilous Voyage, the actor wears hairpieces lacking the famous "you can comb it back!" feature of the standard "Jim Kirk lace" - a significant shift.

There are a number of possible reasons: Perhaps Bill Shatner felt that in the character of James T. Kirk, both he and his toupee had finally found an understanding partner; thus, it was a question of fidelity - an exclusive toupee for just this role - a very noble sentiment indeed. A somewhat weaker version of this notion would have had Bill Shatner believing that audiences now strongly identified the "Jim Kirk lace" with the character that he portrayed in Star Trek - thus, the new toupees would have been a way to prevent typecasting.

Or perhaps Bill Shatner, knowing that he had, shall we say "lifted" (also see here) a few of the toupees provided to him by Star Trek, didn't want to irritate the producers by wearing them (or the same style) on other projects.

Or was it something to do with Bill Shatner's by-this-point deteriorating marriage to wife Gloria Rand? Were the new toupees a signal that the relationship was over?

Or was it legal? Did Star Trek's producers, knowing that the toupee was developing its own ever-growing fan-base, contractually stipulate that during the show's run, the "Jim Kirk lace" must not appear in any other projects?

An interesting mystery...

Note: Perilous Voyage is a movie that our toupologists have, despite our best efforts, been entirely unable to locate - it neither exists on DVD, VHS, YouTube nor any of the other Internet resources within which one can often find rare Bill Shatner appearances. So, we've decided to offer a highly prestigious honorary degree from the WSSTS to any of our valued readers that can help us track down a copy!

Update: YouTube user "Rubypearl" has posted a brief clip from this movie - watch below:


  1. He probably could not use the Star Trek lace as it belonged to the studio and was required for shooting.
    The piece he is wearing looks like the Col. Steve Austin hair style from SMDM.

  2. A Blond Bill? In White Comanche he looks like James Franciscus..

  3. I actually think he kind of looks like Steve McQueen in those first pictures.

    Maybe the studios doing those pictures insisted on that look?

  4. A very exciting toupological find and kudos to all the toupologists for this one. I just assumed that toupes were time specfic. It's great to see other toupes during the Jim Kirk era

  5. I enjoyed the toupee on in Perilous Voyage. Shatner is kinda of James Bondish, it has the feel of a mid-sixties spy movie.

  6. I suspect that these may be early Jim Kirk toups that might no longer withstand the Jim Kirk look, but combed forward could maintain a decent alternate look.

    As a fellow toup wearer myself, I know that hair systems can withstand a generous degree of manipulation (for a time).

  7. I don´t know. The back on the White Comanche toupee suggests a full wig, not a partial piece.

  8. that wig/toupee in white comanche is totally the wrong shade of blond for Bill... Doesn't work with his eyebrows at all.

  9. Oh my. In the first picture, look closely at his eyes. He's checking out the wig/toupee!

  10. crosby stills and shatFebruary 16, 2010 at 2:09 PM

    maybe it was no longer fashionable to go all the time with a lace toupee. Sean Connery went to a non-lace design in 1967 for you only live twice. Where Connery goes, Shatner follows.

  11. The Jim Kirk lace has to be the best look for Bill and I can't blame him if he did lift a couple from the studio. The other two are just scary - he looks like he could be a serial killer, especially the blond one.
    I take it there are no photos of Bill, sans wig/toup? so, exact amount/nature of follicular challenging remains a mystery? possibly just as well.