Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wig trouble.

Reader Margaret sent us an interesting tip - a moment she found within Star Trek's infamous blooper reels. The blooper comes from a fight scene from the second season episode "A Private Little War".

The toupeed Bill Shatner is fighting a bewigged stuntman (a classic wig v toupee battle - the aliens in this episode all wear rather silly wigs).

But in one take, the stuntman has a wig malfunction "I'm having/I've got wig trouble..." he says as his wig falls off. Sadly, the clip is so short we never get to see Bill Shatner's reaction. Perhaps he said "Tell me about it!" or he ripped off his own toup and the two men jokingly began throwing hairpieces at each other, while the bemused crew watched on! Here's the very brief blooper in real time and then slow-motion:

And here's a clip of the undoubtedly toupologically demanding scene in question:

In this particular fight scene, Bill Shatner is doing all of his own stunts. Thus, there can be little doubt that similar extreme toupological malfunctions happened to Bill Shatner throughout the course of the series, despite some well-trained moves designed to protect the toupee at all times - for example the "toup roll" (the roll produces a centrifugal force, which helps keep the toupee stable):

So why aren't there any bloopers of extreme Bill Shatner toupee malfunctions? Here's the likely (very simple) answer:

When the budget-conscious Star Trek was being filmed, after each take, the director would have the choice of calling for a "print" meaning that the camera negatives from that take would be printed and viewed as "dailies" the next day, or he could say nothing, which would mean that the negatives could be discarded (a common process). Occasionally, a director would say "let's print that" or "save that" on something other than a take that he was pleased with - a blooper.

These bloopers would then be saved and cut together at the end of the season and viewed by the entire production at the end of season wrap party. They weren't ever intended to be viewed by the public (see here for Leonard Nimoy's anger over the bloopers becoming public).

However, Bill Shatner toup bloopers were evidently a no-no. So the question of why there aren't any Bill Shatner toup bloopers is likely because no director ever dared to yell "let's print that" after the series star had an on-camera toupee incident. Can you imagine the daggers that Bill Shatner would send in the poor director's direction?!? Directors of the week were replaceable - the series star's image was far more important.

But at least we get Bill Shatner causing a stuntman's wig to fall off (see here for a bald patch on Bill Shatner's own stunt double).

In a wider sense, fight scenes like the one in "A Private Little War" underscore how Star Trek can be watched and re-watched not just for the characters, the stories, the humor, the morality plays, the philosophy, the 60s aesthetics - but also to study Bill Shatner's toupee. What will each fight scene bring? Will there be ruffling? Will a knock or bump produce maybe even one frame of historic toupological revelations? How quickly will Captain Kirk's hair become unruffled and freshly re-styled? Will the lace line show? Will the lid flip? So much to look out for - it's no wonder that Star Trek has remained popular even after 45 years of reruns!

Watch the first two season's worth of blooper reels here. For more on the fate of unused Star Trek negatives, visit startrekhistory.com.


  1. shat takes a look at the lace line in a mirror and appears to be startled. From the episode The Trouble with Toupees.

  2. Toupee or not toupee!October 27, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    Thanks to the knowledge I've gained from this blog I now find myself staring at Kirk's hairline and how his toup 'acts' rather than at the episode in general. Oh well! Good excuse to rewatch a few episodes!

    On a side note I reckon one of the Tribbles escaped the Star Trek set. It apears to have found a new home on Donald Trump's head!

  3. Bloopers are a no no in the expensive STOS boxed sets. Preserv the image, they say.

  4. WHERE did you find that pic of Shatner playing the harmonica? I've seen a lot of pics but never that one. Where did it turn up?

  5. In that episode Kirk vs Gorn, Arena, I think, there were lots of toupee ruffling

  6. swh1939 says ...

    Another TOS toup moment ... from "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", when Kirk is lying down about to be duplicated as an android. When he starts the "Mind your own business" routine and the following expressions of pain, check out the rear of his toup.

  7. Toup separation:

  8. or he ripped off his own toup and the two men jokingly began throwing hairpieces at each other


  9. Shat Attack, That may be the best pic of Toup separation on him that I have seen. Good Work on finding that!

  10. Ha ha! I love seeing film bloopers. But I surely didn't laugh when my wife's wig fell off during a party last summer. The night was still young but my wife was already half drunk, and she danced in the hallway like nothing mattered. So yeah, that was something the guests would probably remember forever. Lesson: fasten your wigs tightly when you're at a party and there's alcohol flowing through your veins.