Thursday, July 1, 2010

Toupee or not toupee?

Apologies for the Hamlet-inspired headline - it had to happen sooner or later! Following on from our previous post, we have another interesting image from which our toupologists are unable to draw a firm conclusion.

The above image shows Bill Shatner on the set of a 1959 series called Tactic - with co-star Alfred Hitchcock standing behind the actor. We know almost nothing about this episode or series.

We all know the basic contours of the "Jim Kirk lace" - the frontal swoosh and the thick moon-crest-like cap over the rear. Yet, this image lacks these unmistakable characteristics:

Further, the image reveals far more real short hair above the neck than we usually see; the bulk provided by the toup absent.

Until this (if that's what is is), we had no image of Bill Shatner toup-less beyond 1957 or early '58, so we can only guess at his level of baldness. But it's pretty certain that he still had hair at this point (except for a growing bald patch at the back), and that it was just too thin to be convincingly photographed as thick and plentiful anymore - the major balding likely kicked in during the mid-1960s.

The above image would appear to correspond to the progression of thinning that we have been able to chart: thin hair - a frontal hairline still in place - grown longer in this case and combed back (or squashed down from on-screen toupee wearing). In other words, the style visible in the image, seems to be what we might expect to see an early 1960 toup-less Bill Shatner looking like.

Bill Shatner toup-less in 1957 - more here.

Bill Shatner toup-less in December 1957 - also a rare example of his naturally curly hair being visible.

So could it really be a toup-less picture - a rehearsal in progress before any costumes, makeup or toupees were applied? Our toupologists have told us they aren't prepared to make that call yet - not without further study and some major touposcopic work.

A touposcope housed at the William Shatner School of Toupologcal Studies

Or could it just be a squashed toup, after all? Perhaps. But unlike our previous post, where, as readers noted, the confusion could all just be a stray shadow or a part of the cap, here, there is far more to observe and draw conclusions from. "We think that there might be something to this image," one source at the WSSTS, who declined to be identified as they are not authorized to speak on behalf of the institute, told us "It could indeed be Bill Shatner without his toupee, which would be a remarkable find for this era - but we can't be sure at this point."

Let us know your thoughts!

CORRECTION: Thanks to eagle-eyed readers, we have corrected this article to confirm that the behind-the-scenes image is not from 1960's "Mother, May I Go Out To Swim?", as we originally and incorrectly wrote, but rather from an episode of a 1959 series called Tactic - the episode in question guest-starred William Shatner, Alfred Hitchcock and actress Diana Van der Vlis. More here.


  1. Easy that one. No toupee, just a combover with a thickening spray.

  2. I'm stunned by your touposcope and just sent you a message that might help you to track down the Hitchcock episode :)

  3. Ya I agree that he's not wearing a toup there. I also may have some leads with finding the hitchcock ep, and will let you know if I find it!

  4. what would people say Chris Pines Kirk is trying to emulate? the 'Jim Kirk lace' or the 'TJ curly'?? looks a hybrid of both to me - the jim kirk lace colour (i believe Pine dyed his hair to match honey brown season 1 shatner) with the hair combed or brushed in a similar style (although not as greased and no forelock) but with the sheer thickness and density of the TJ curly (but not curly)

    a hybrid pretty much like the enterprise itself in the new movie - a hybrid of the original 60s tv show enterprise (circular red rotating nancells, antenna deflector dish) and the original cast movies (detailed panelling, similar style lettering, blue lit dish, torpedo bay etc)

    i think Pines hair and its relation to Shatners toups would make for an interesting article anyhow...

  5. Ya Anonymous that's a good idea. Plus look's like Pine's hairline is receding a bit so maybe if he ends up playing Kirk as long as the Shat, we'll see Pike with a toup as well.

  6. Excellent observations, Anonymous!
    Concerning the picture: It might be a comb-over…however, I'm not familiar with the word "thickening spray". How do theses sprays work? Are they still in use today?

  7. Ya there are tons and thickening powders too -- Toppik is an example.

  8. The 2nd pic is a good one for distinguishing between the "live" hair on the side and the "dead" hair on top and the seam where the two join.

  9. I first want to say that your efforts of your group of toupologists are amazing....VERY WELL DONE!!

    I must say over the years I always wondered the question..Toup or not a Toup? That question became answered to me with the age of Blue Ray, in the classic Trek episode "Balance of Terror"...which had been previously posted on here where it was apparant...lace toupee...Also, watch at the end of that episode as Kirk attempts to console Angela Martine...her eyes are constantly shifting up to his hairline or should I say forehead?...There have also been other things to reinforce that as well....the early publicity photos from his career...circa 1957..1958...the hair is just to thin to evolve into the 1960 "Jim Kirk Lace"...

    Personally, I think that was the most natural looking throughout the 60's, but as your investigation seems to have pointed out...there were factors which possibly influenced him to make changes....all for the worst in the early and late 70's for sure...

    As for the discovered Alfred Hitchcock photo, it is ashame the lighting is obstructing the quality of the image but there definitely is a distinct difference to the hair in that photo and the hair in the episode....which leads to me believe that the photo is without the actual toup...

    Please keep up the good work....the rare photos are excellent!!

  10. Thanks for your comments! We have been trying to encourage non-registered commenters to select the "Name/ URL" option in the "Comment As" tab and type in a username (anything at all). This eliminates the "anonymous" tag and helps other commenters to know who is saying what. Thanks! -ST

  11. Toup Sleuth Since 1984July 2, 2010 at 9:23 AM


    I say it's a toup-less rehearsal shot...

    On a related topic (toup on top of hair), for an excellent example for how a high-quality "Lost Years"-style toup functions over probably about the amount of hair Shat had circa 1970, see the video at the link below. Pat Boone loses his toupee (and recovers with grace and humor). He seems to have had a pretty decent-looking transplant since then.

  12. Shatner haters!

  13. @Anonymous
    No one here hates Shatner.
    Are you trying to be funny?

  14. Yes, but Shatner does NOT wear a toupee.

  15. Bill Shatner is not wearing a toupee in this photo. He'd taken it off temporarily so he could concentrate better on learning his lines and placed it in the top drawer (still slightly open) of the desk that's beside him. This was standard operating procedure for Shats in the early days of television.

  16. This pic is a major find. You can see that Shatner still had plenty of hair in the late 50's, but it was not good enough for a TV or movie star. Then came the lace... and it was all downhill

  17. hmmm maybe the lace toup contributed to more rapid balding!

    Also have you all seen this?

    (It's the July 2nd entry -- a toup/wig that may have been worn by the Shat is for sale!!

  18. @murt

    Holy crap! That description of this toupee is just too good to be true.

  19. I can now see why he went for the Jim Kirk lace - it is kind of like his original hair. After that, I think he must have gone "toup-happy" - he could not help himself, it's like a disease - the modest Kirk lace could not satisfy him for long and so he was driven to experiment with more and more extreme toup looks, building up to the TJ curly (which I quite like actually!). Have you boffins at the WSSTS done any work on "toup addiction"?

  20. By the Seventies, the Jim Kirk lace style, even though it suited Shatner well, would probably have seemed more than a little dated and 'square', just like Connery's early Bond style. Longer, Beatle-inspired hairstyles which obscured the hairline and fell over the ears were more in vogue, and Shatner's shaggier toupees reflected the era's changing fashions toward 'bigger' hair.

  21. where did you get that rugJuly 5, 2010 at 12:11 AM

    @mvp @murt personally I think this toup is far too light to have been worn in the third series when Bill's rug looked like it had had a serious dose of 'just for men'. Maybe it was from the first or second series when it had more of the 'sun-in' look?

    As for why he stopped wearing the JK lace, surely it's just a fashion thing. The almost preppy swooshy JK style was in vogue throughout the 60s but in the 70's men's hair got bigger and longer and by the 80's bushier so Bill's rugs got bigger and bushier out of necessity.

  22. exactly - thats the way ive always seen it - Shats altered toups due to the fashions. 60s - the almost Elvis style greased JK lace, the lost years 70s the longer shaggy Beatle look (although they was the 60s..guess it took a while to catch on), the 80s the TJ curly possibly reflective of real curly guys like The Hoff and Selleck etc (think shat had 2 variations of the TJ - Trek II partial and Trek IIIs helmet), the 90s the TJ trimmed down, browned and styled over to the right - almost a hybrid of the JK lace and the TJ curly, and the 00s various experimental pieces leading to the scalp showing Denny Crane saturday night special (which *could* be part transplant)

  23. also remember Burt Renyolds had a very similar TJ curly piece in the 80s...Bill and Burt may have been going to the same piece maker

    in fact come to think of it isnt Burt now wearing a similar Denny Crane style?...its possible that Bill and Burt have been mirroring one another for some time now...this could require further study...

  24. my fave toups - best to worst IMO:

    JK lace - was so good had most people fooled for many years (thinking hed lost his hair inbetween TOS and the St movies)

    the TJ curly A - thick, dark, debonair, gave shatner an severe look, almost dangerous (esp when at his leanest - see TMP, TWOK, early Hooker). A man you would absolutly not want to fuck with

    the Denny Crane saturday night special - a curious piece, one can see the scalp..therefore it must be real right? ...uncertain...the shat is worth an estimated 800 million dollars...with that amount of money miracals are possible

    TJ curly 2 - the helmet style - covers the entire head...less realistic than TJ curly 1...i imagine this one fit with a suction effect

    Lost years - no one likes TLY toups...

  25. Lost years - no one likes TLY toups...

    Yeah, not only because they look crap. But it reminds us that Shatner was doing anything to pay the bills.. doing the rounds in the game show circuit and guesting on lames TV movies

  26. this 1960 photo, is toupless! His frontal hair, is now hanging on, just about to fall to pieces. His rear head, would look bad by now. This adds a little more weigh, that the 1961 backstage shot, that you very recently showed is toupless as well. He had to wear, a toup, but i dont think, he ever enjoyed it.