Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An early "TJ Curly" in Barbary Coast.

The earliest that we had pegged the shift from Bill Shatner's "Lost Years" style to the "TJ Curly" was a 1976 episode of Columbo called "Fade in to Murder". Now, thanks to an image we found on eBay that date could shift back by as much as one year.

The above image is from a little-known Western series (we're not sure of the episode) that Bill Shatner starred in called Barbary Coast. The series ran from 1975-76 and lasted for only fourteen episodes before being canceled.

To quote the imdb.com entry: "[William Shatner stars as a] 19th-century government agent and master of disguise Jeff Cable [and] operates out of a secret room in a San Francisco casino owned by his best pal Cash Conover."

Bill Shatner's hair style in the series is still very much "Lost Years" era (1969-1976) but throughout the show, his character frequently dresses up in various disguises - including wearing numerous wigs and toupees.

Here's a clip from the pilot episode (simply entitled "Barbary Coast") in which Bill Shatner removes a wig and places it among many other wigs in his collection:

We think that the entire series is chocked full of such moments - but such a toupological extravaganza evidently wasn't enough to make up for the other deficiencies in Barbary Coast. In his autobiography Up Till Now, Bill Shatner notes that the series was envisioned as a cross between: "Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, I Spy and just about every other period detective show ever done. The gimmick was that each week I would have to wear some elaborate disguise." He also added, "We got poor notices and our ratings weren't very good."

Bill Shatner (left - also picture below) in the episode "Guns for a Queen".

Soon broadcaster ABC began to cut the budget, while edicts about Barbary Coast being a family show - a Western without violence - also caused creative problems. In the book Captain Quirk, Bill Shatner is quoted as saying of the series: "We can't have any man-to-man combat, even for the hell of it...We're throwing mud pies at each other in an effort to get in some action."

Barbary Coast isn't available to buy commercially, but occasionally airs on TV. Episodes can also be found out there on the Web...numerous toupological moments (perhaps even wig on toup - surely not!) are assured.


  1. Based on your lead-off picture, for a moment, I thought the title of your posting was referring to Doug McClure's chest hair! :o)

    I just saw a Match Game PM rerun where Shatner mentions the show (on the air at the time); he definitely had no hopes for it, as his remarks about it on MG suggest!

    The two 8pm timeslots it ran on definitely didn't help; on Mondays, they were up against Rhoda and Phyllis, and then on Fridays, they were done in by Sanford and Son and Chico and the Man!

  2. This show was broadcasted in Brazil in the mid seventies, but I never saw it again. At the time, I really didn´t have any notion of the toupee situation!

  3. The theme of this show had an undeniable focus on toupees and wigs. It's no wonder that it appealed to Shatner and he signed on to star in it. He was totally in his element.

  4. Toupee or not toupee!November 8, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    Oooh! Shatner gets to play dress-up, or should that be toup-up!

    NOOOOO! Blond Shatner with moustache, must erase from memory.