Monday, August 30, 2010

"Does my toupee bother you?"

Recently, reader "Toup-Eh?" posted a tip related to an autobiographical book that former Star Trek "Wolf in the Wold" guest star Tanya Lemani had written called Have Belly, Will Travel. The tip noted that the Bill Shatner fansite "Look at His Butt!" (Shatner's toupee, Shatner's butt - aren't there any normal Bill Shatner websites out there!?!) had previously looked into this book and found an interesting story about Bill Shatner's toupee. We contacted the young ladies at LAHB and they very kindly sent us a scan of the relevant page from the book for purposes of verification.

Lemani relates the story of a tryst she claims to have had with Bill Shatner around the time of her guest appearance on Star Trek:

"Bill called me and invited me to dinner a few days later. I wanted to impress him so I had pulled my hair up to give myself a different look from the exotic Belly dancer and got all dressed up. I was anxious to go out as it was my night off from Greek Village. The door bell rang and I rushed to the door. I was expecting Bill but I saw a balding man who I had never seen before. He pushed the door open and took me into his arms.

'Tanya, it's so good to see you. I rushed here as soon as they took my make up off.' It was Bill's voice but he had no hair on top. Looking at my expression he must have realized that I didn't know that he was balding and was wearing a hair piece. He started giggling with his little boy laugh.

'You've never seen me like this?' He pointed to his head. I was stunned and just shook my head. 'I get tired of wearing this all day long.' He said and I saw that he was somewhat uncomfortable.

Our artist's impression of a toup-less Bill Shatner

'Oh, this looks fine but...well...I just don't know.' I tried to make light of it.

'Does it bother you?' He went on.

'No, it's different, that's all.' To make him feel better I pulled him by his hand to the living room.

'Would you like some wine?' I went toward my fridge and took out a cold bottle.

'Sure, yes, that's sound
[sic] good.' While I was getting the glasses and the wine together, Bill lit a joint.

'Here, would you like a hit?' He handed me the joint. At that point I thought I needed it just to break the tense moment and to relax. I took a puff."

Later, after Lemani recounts the pair's love-making, the subject again returns to hair as the couple prepare to go out for a meal:

" 'Go? How like this?' I pointed to my hair and my make up which looked like a hurricane hit it.

'Well, comb your hair and let's go...' "

Click on the below image for a scan of the above page:

Firsthand accounts of Bill Shatner without his toupee are very rare and have largely come from disgruntled Star Trek cast and crew-members. For example, in producer Bob Justman's book Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, actor James Doohan (a man almost consumed with often irrational contempt for Bill Shatner - interestingly Lemani's Trek character was supposed to be a Scotty love interest! ) is quoted describing his co-star as having "little odd tufts of hair". Justman too, perhaps angry at apparent inaccuracies in Bill Shatner's Star Trek Memories, also mentions the toupee a couple of times, including an alleged act of toup theft by the actor. Then there is Star Trek guest star Yvonne Craig, who really didn't get on with Shats at all; she also mentioned a toupee incident in her book.

"Er, Jimmy, you know that chick that your character is interested in..."

Converesly, along with a story told by Trek guest star William Campbell, Lemani's description is a rare example of a Bill Shatner toupee/baldness story not colored or motivated by negative emotions. In that sense, one can view it as being potentially more accurate - although a profit motive (wanting to get your book sold by mentioning Shatner toupee stories) could also theoretically color or influence actual recollections.

Nonetheless, the portrait that is painted by the author is in line with a picture that we've observed in which Bill Shatner started out being pretty easygoing (still no bald photos, though) about his toupee escapades, before dramatically shifting (no doubt motivated by a disintegrating marriage and career) towards a far more fundamentalist denialist approach by Star Trek's third season - one that has only eased up again in recent years.

Perhaps the most interesting line in Lemani's account is Bill Shatner saying "Does it bother you?" about his baldness. The implication being that if it does, he might be willing to run out and quickly paste his toup back on for her. "You've never seen me like this?" indicates a very carefree approach (or at least the affectation of one) to the toupee, as does the suggestion that the pair might dine together in public with the actor potentially risking his image, not to mention his marriage by going out toup-less (or in a hat?) with another woman. That part, we have to say, seems a little odd and out of character, but then the paparazzi of that time was nothing like today's...

UPDATE: Reader "MVPisOnline" wonders if we're being fair describing James Doohan as "a man almost consumed with often irrational contempt for Bill Shatner." While we're not seeking to lessen Bill Shatner's famous insensitivity and ego-maniacal, self-centered conduct, we found a couple of Doohan quotes (sourced in this book) that we think underline the point:

"There really is one person on the show that nobody can stand...[Shatner] can't even act. He doesn't act. He makes faces. He'll wrinkle his nose like a rabbit and that's supposed to mean 'Oh look, I'm about to cry'."

A fair critique or a petty expression of deep bitterness?

Doohan also blamed Bill Shatner for a scene that involved his nephew being cut from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. "Was it the studio or was it Bill Shatner?" he asked. The scene in question can be seen in an extended cut of the film and we understand why it was cut - likely by the director or producers. In our view, blaming Bill Shatner for this seems irrational. Truth is, extended sequences focusing on the emotions of the supporting characters could very easily have been seen as slowing down the pace of a given Trek movie.

We should also add that fortunately, the two actors did at least partially repair their relationship before James Doohan's death in 2005.


  1. wow just wow...

    detailed describtion of shat toupless, banging the beely dancer from Wolf (how many other TOS co stars felt the power of shat?), stealing Scotties woman, taking in a joint, "im starved" ("is there anything to eat - i dont know about you but im starved")

    btw from the describtion it would appear shatner was even balder than that mock up pic there

  2. if shed said yes it does bother me - cue shatner leaving..then 20 minutes later turning up wearing the Jim Kirk lace! - complete with stratigically placed lock of hair down forehead! - foolish woman you couldve had sex with Captain James T Kirk...not shatner!

  3. 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

  4. But toupless Bill could dine incognito with his dates and the Press (and his wife) would never know.

  5. Of course there are no normal Bill Shatner websites out there, because HE is not normal, he's awesome. And so is your blog.

  6. I was a theatre student at USC in the early 1990s, and I took a class from Charles Macaulay, who plays Lemani's husband in "Wolf in the Fold." Macaulay, who sadly passed away about ten years ago, was bald in this episode and in real life, although he wore a toup on screen a number of times. I wore a T-shirt with Leonard Nimoy's pic on the front, and that's when Charles told me he had appeared in two episodes of Trek - "Wolf in the Fold" and "Return of the Archons," in which he plays Landru, and he wears a ridiculous toup. Nobody realizes it's the same actor in both eps because of his toup.

    I never even thought to ask him about any Shatner toup stories, and, with his passing, I never will. He was very laconic and ambivalent about his Trek legacy. "I've appeared in every play in the Shakespeare canon," he said, "but they're going to write 'Landru' on my tombstone."

    1. @Stallion Cornell,
      Imagine this-- a late reply to the tune of almost nine years, to the day!

      > Charles Macaulay, who plays Lemani's husband in "Wolf in the Fold."

      Actually, I believe he played Pilar Seurat's husband (her character was "Sybo"). It was actually Charles Dierkop (his character was "Morla") who played Lemani's fiance.

  7. Cry me a river, Charles. You were lucky ro play the great Landru and be on screen with Shat and his great toupee.

  8. Shatner balding around? Liting a joint? I don't buy it. But an intriguing tale, anyway.

  9. @Marc - I don't know - I think it's fairly credible. I can totally see Shat smoking pot & maybe harder stuff too.

  10. So Tanya waa ewpecting Captain Kirk.. and got Harry Mudd?

  11. I don't think Doohan was all that 'consumed with often irrational contempt for Bill Shatner'.

    It’s quite clear that Shatner has in the past (and probably still today) a monstrously huge ego and a real fear of humiliation. He wanted to be a huge star, but not have his baldness be either exposed or get in the way of his drive to success.

    I think Doohan along with many of the other co-stars had many good reasons to be furious with Shatner as the series progressed. The general consensus I get from all the material out there was that Shatner felt threatened by Leonard Nimoy’s Spock character and he did everything possible to return the limelight on himself. That included stealing other people’s lines, bossing around directors, co-stars, guest-stars, writers, producers, etc.

    When TOS was cancelled and his divorce went through, I’m guessing he went through a very humble phase, till he got re-married and eventually till the TOS films and TJ Hooker made him a star again.

  12. To have Shat show up at a womans house sans toup indicates a devil may care attitude regarding the hair. I think I'm right in pointing out the enormous danger potential with any contact with persons outside a dressing room that could have knowledge of the toup. Then again the possibilities, the potential of shedding the toup was equally great. But that's what hairpieces are all about. That's why he wears one.

  13. "MVPisOnline" thanks for your comment regards our James Doohan statement. We've written an update to address this very point. -ST

  14. Hey ST - thanks for the update.

    Not to beat the point to death, but let's just say it's best to agree to disagree.

    I agree with Doohan quote - at least to the extent of Shatner playing Captain Kirk. Shatner wasn't really acting, as I think he was just being himself on camera. That's not a knock on Shatner to say that. And as a point of defending the Shat, it's also why I thought that Star Trek film from last year was a bad idea. Shatner injected so much of his personality into Kirk, that in my opinion, no other actor can replicate that fully.

    Just because I (or Doohan or others) may not consider him that much of an actor doesn't mean he's not compelling to watch, nor does it mean Shatner wasn't an ego-maniac. It was a special show. Indeed for me, it's the interactions between Shatner's Kirk, Nimoy's Spock, the cast, and the stories that make it great. Heck I even watched a TOS episode just the other night.

    Of course, this blog is also a factor in my increase in viewing all things Shatner :).

    As to TWOK scene - I first watched it on TV and recall the scene in question. Cutting that scene about Scotty's reference greatly undercuts the magnitude of the scene that comes later, where the nephew dies and Scotty weeps. And while I've not seen any direct evidence that Shatner himself had anything to do with cutting it, it's no small coincidence that both Doohan and Shatner are in the scenes in question. I definitely thought Doohan and Kelley (as well as the nephew actor) out-acted Shatner.

    To be fair again, I thought this was Shatner's best performance of Kirk in TOS films.

    I tell you though, this blog is addictive! The work put into this subject is fantastic and I enjoy reading it.

    The more I watch Shatner as Kirk on TOS, the more I check out the toupee. Maybe it IS the toupee that draws me in!

  15. I am going to watch Wolf in Th Fold again tonight just to check the toup. An imagine Shatner without it.

  16. Shatner's an old school ham - a marvelous actor. Saying "he just plays himself" is the finest compliment you can give him, because it means he makes it look effortless. There's a reason he's an icon, and it's not because he's talentless.

  17. So Shat shouldn't be considered a good actor when compared to someone like Christopher Plummer? He just exists in a different realm entirely.

  18. Maybe they cut the Peter Preston scene and the extended Doohan scene because they're cringe-worthy.

  19. I would've INSISTED on the Jim Kirk lace.
    re. the joint smoking - if it's true, doesn't surprise me in the least. It would explain Mr Tambourine MA-A-A-A-A-N!!! & a lot of other things...

  20. Nah, those scenes were pretty good. It's Shatner's weave/wig/rodent-on-his-head that's cringe-worthy.

  21. did any of Bill's toupees receive fan mail? I know there was a letter-writing campaign that was credited with saving the Star trek TV show. Maybe if we wrote in, we could save the Jim Kirk Lace toupee and bring it back to life in a new incarnation, sitting atop Bill's head where it belongs.

  22. I went to the Star Trek Las Vegas convention last month and got a photo taken with Bill Shatner and the first thing I checked was his hair. I can tell you now with 100% certainty that Bill Shatner does NOT wear a toupee today. No way. That was his REAL hair. I saw it with my own two eyes, standing next to him.

  23. Thanks, GG. As those of us who have gone the hair transplant route can attest, it is possible to have a dramatic transformation if you are willing to put in the time and money

  24. He had on the worst looking toupee when he did a guest appearance on $6,000,000 Man. He almost lost it when he was fighting lee majors on a catwalk. It looked like the wind was going to blow it away and also a bearskin rug with tassels on it.