Monday, August 23, 2010

Ouch! (aka The Ashes of Toupdon)

Many readers may remember intriguing readers' comments relating to an apparent "peeling" toupee on the back cover of Bill Shatner's 1995 (co-authored) novel The Ashes of Eden. Well, reader Neil has done some highly laudable investigative toupology of his very own and tracked down the book in question. He then very kindly sent us a scan and requested that we fire up our touposcopes.

We were happy to oblige and it wasn't long before our top toupologists ascertained that the image in question should be analyzed with our extremely powerful Quantum Toupmonic Oscillator, which came up with the following readouts...

But what did it all mean?

In the simplest possible terms, our toupologists deemed that this picture does indeed appear to show a somewhat shocking (and unfortunate) toup malfunction. By 1995, Bill Shatner was well into wearing a "Phase II TJ Curly" meaning a "weave" that better anchored the hair by extending all the way down the sides of the head too.

What appears to be happening here, is that the fine skin under the hair that attaches the sides of the piece to the scalp (odd though, that it is protruding, lace-style, off the hair in this way) has become detached leading to very revealing shadows.

What is most odd is how the makeup artist at the photo-shoot could have let this happen. Even more curious is why it wasn't then cleaned up by airbrushing the image (it would have been a pretty easy job) after the fact. So did no-one see it (possibly)? It's hard to believe that Bill Shatner would have ever allowed the image to go out knowing of the toupological slip-up that it contained. Especially so, since the thawing of Bill Shatner's outright toupee denial was still years away. Or was it a mischievous prank of sorts, artificially airbrushed into the picture after the fact?

Either way, the blunder undoubtedly merits adjectives like "awkward" and "embarrassing", but as many of you will know, our mission here at the WSSTS is not to simply point out such moments, but to try to understand their significance, both for Bill Shatner and humanity as a whole. "Study the Toupee" is our motto, after all. To this end, we consulted with one of our top socio-toupologists, who wrote:

"What if it was deliberate? With the recent death of Captain Kirk in Star Trek: Generations, Bill Shatner may have been attempting to convey to readers how torn he felt over agreeing to kill off this beloved character so dear to his heart."

Both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy almost immediately regretted killing off their respective characters in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek: Generations.

The socio-toupologist continued:

" 'From a distance I may seem OK,' the actor may have been trying to say with his hair
, 'But look a little closer. There is a yawning gap in my life and it is tearing me apart! Help, I really am coming apart at the seams!' The actor's smile, meanwhile, is punctuated with an unmistakable sense of grief and sadness, while the starry backdrop only accentuates the feeling of alienation of its subject. In a sense, the photograph may be one of the most subtle, yet powerful, searing and iconic statements of loss and grief since Princess Diana's Taj Mahal photo."

Alone at the Taj Mahal. This 1992 image of Princess Diana was viewed as highlighting that Lady Di's marriage was falling apart.

Moving stuff, indeed! On a separate note, our full movie and TV toupological analyses of Bill Shatner's work will be back in September. Some of you may be happy to learn that, by popular demand, we will finally be undertaking full analyses of the 6+1 Bill Shatner Trek to individual Trek episodes...who knows?


  1. I wonder if this didn't purposely extend to the front cover image. Perhaps, not willing to deal with the heavy decision of how true to the source material the illustration should be, the cover artist deliberately placed the Enterprise in the way in order to let each beholder decide the matter for themselves.

  2. help - I can't stop reading this blog even though my illusions of a hirsute Kirk are shattered every time!
    The other day he tweeted that he was going horse riding - "pure Zen" (Kant, Adorno, Zen - this must be going somewhere...or perhaps not) I wonder if he might follow the example of the traditional Zen monk, and shave off the remainder of his hair? he could then relax about appearing in public with a completely bald head, as he could claim to have shaved it off for "religious and philosophical" reasons?

  3. Toup deniers can't explain away this one!

  4. And on the right side of the pic, it's very easy to see where the fake hair meets the real thing.

  5. I think that at this stage in his life he was missing so much hair from the sides and back from traction alopecia caused by years of toup wearing, that he had to wear a full wig to keep the illusion.

  6. Great photo. The eyebrows and maybe 1/4 inch of the sideburns are about the only real hair visible. Encore!

  7. toup of the morningAugust 24, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    Could Shatner do an episode on his show "Aftermath" that discusses toupee usage and its consequences? It could make a beautiful story.

  8. @BaldyB

    Assuming what you say is accurate, then it makes me wonder about his current look. I'm thinking that can't possibly be all plugs up on his head. Recent pictures of Shatner seem to indicate one can see his scalp on the top of his head, just past his hairline. Given all this receding based on pictures like this, I would think he'd not have enough donor head hair for plugs.

    My thinking is he tried plugs for the back and top of his head, while he wears a frontal toupee to project the impression of a top/frontal hairline.

  9. baldy B did you ever see one of shatner's toupees when it was off his noggin? Why did he need a particular crazy toup as opposed to something shorter or more subtle?

  10. Toup Sleuth Since 1984August 25, 2010 at 7:19 AM

    This from another post elsewhere:

    Toupological analyses commence!

    There are some "hash mark" looking things on the side of Shat's head in some of these photos, and an odd "thick connecting patch" from the temple across the forehead in a couple of others.

    What's going on? Patchy plugs? Sophisticated "see-scalp" toupee gone ratty?

  11. MVPisonline,

    Very Good question indeed. I think his current look is all a very good plug job. I suspect most of his traction alopecia was located near his temples. So doctors might have been able to harvest enough donor hair from the back and sides to fix his temples, crown, and hairline.

    It seems like a strech, but I think that is why his hair looks so patchy in recent pics. I think he wears a small piece when he does tv and film just so his scalp doesn't show under harsh studio lights

  12. How someone could claim Shat is wearing a toup in those pics @ startrekpropauthority.blogspot is difficult to explain. Yet, it does seem he's got a toup going on in the publicity photos from the Shat my Dad Says TV show. BaldyB's analysis may be spot on.

  13. @BaldyB

    I used to think it was mostly plugs now as well. But these recent photos where you can see his scalp from the top of his head make me wonder. Why just there and not around his frontal hairline? It seems inconsistent.

    The hair around his hairline looks too thick to be plugs. I'm of the opinion that he's wearing a partial hairpiece there. When it comes to TV shows and such, the studios can give him more thicker pieces as needed.

  14. @MVPisOnline:

    I vote for plugs -- I think his hairline is thicker because he's brushed his hair forward -- that's why it looks thinner in the back as well.

    My brother has thin, fine hair around that length, and when he brushes it forward, it looks thick at the front, but still thin at the back.

    If the Shat tried to come his hair back and wear it in the JTK lace style, it would look thin at the front, I think.

  15. You folks are probably right. For me it's just an odd thing.

    I think what it is I find odd is, the hair on his frontal hairline looks like it's the same length as the rest of his hair, but it looks short. It doesn't seem as though such short hair could come from where it's growing (unless he had plugs put in to move his original hairline so forward).

    In his Jim Kirk toupee, the hair on the hairpiece I think was longer than his own hair - probably for styling reasons.

    If Spock were viewing this forum, I'm sure he'd say there'a logical explanation.

    The mystery of Shatner lives on!

  16. Hash marks? plug jobs? traction alopecia? this blog has opened up a whole new world for me - thanks guys!