Friday, March 18, 2011

Assignment: Toupee!

A reader sent us a tip regarding a very interesting high-definition image from's ever expanding collection of Trek screencaps. Upon first glance, the above image from the Star Trek episode "Operation: Annihilate!" seems to show that all is well in the fictional Bill Shatner kingdom of "Hairopolis". But that's where the beauty of high-definition comes in...

As we move in closer, we begin to clearly see a slightly detached lace line on the upper-right side of Bill Shatner's forehead (image left)...

As we move closer still, this material becomes even more apparent.

And then, when our toupologists used their touposcopes to try to move in to the sub-atomic level, something truly odd occurred!:

Our toupologists are still trying to figure out exactly what happened!

As to why in some cases, the lace line seems to be higher and in others lower... possible explanation (only a theory at this point) may be related to Bill Shatner's willingness to shave what remaining hair he had on his head. Assuming he looked somewhat like Harry Mudd in the late 1960s without his toupee...

...there may have been an initial reluctance to shave the remaining hair above the forehead in order to allow the lace to be applied (lace glued onto hair, even a few strands, would undermine the illusion and prove somewhat painful).

Lace mesh visible (click for larger image) in the episode "Shore Leave".

Perhaps in the early episodes, the anchoring provided by the lace had to be shifted far down onto the forehead in light of this reluctance. Only later, did Bill Shatner perhaps agree to shave a bit of his real hair in order for the lace line to be fixed higher and be less prominent - and also help make it seem that the toupee hair was truly sprouting naturally from the scalp:

It's only a hypothesis at this point, but one we hope to prove (or disprove) as more empirical evidence is assessed.


  1. poor bill! In the fight picture, with his ruffled hair, it really, does'ot look real at all. I dont know, if at this point, anyone else in the cast, was wearng a toupee. (apart from possibly, deforest kelly) but william's toup came off, badly, esp in the 3rd season, with toupee flips, and bald patchers, appearing. For sure, there's no real hair on show, as even his frontal hair, would have started to go from 1961!

  2. Toupee or not toupee!March 19, 2011 at 1:34 AM

    His hair looked pretty good in Season 1, almost flawless. I would never have guessed it was a toup without the evidence provided by the brilliantly dedicated toupologists here.

    In fact, I reckon Bill had the lace tape glued to his real hair to make us believe he was wearing a wig,when he wasn't thus spawning the legend of the Bill Shatner toup phenomenon. And this statement is about as real as Bill's hair, LOL!

  3. Dr. Clayton ForresterMarch 22, 2011 at 3:20 AM

    Interesting hypothesis - very plausible. Here's an alternate possibility:

    In the "Balance of Terror" pic, it looks like the toup has an extra region of rubber "skin" in front of the lace mesh, which is bunching up when he wrinkles his forehead. A little bit of the frontal "swoosh" comes out of that part. However, in the "Operation Annihilate" pic, you can't see that extra "rubber" region anymore - just the mesh. (The frontal swoosh is a little more distinctly cropped, too.) Maybe the makeup staff just trimmed the "rubber" part off of the toupees to reduce the number of toup malfunctions on set?

    Also, the "high hairline" photos from this era (e.g., "Deadly Years") suggest that whatever peach fuzz he had remaining stopped some distance above his forehead, which would reduce the benefits of anchoring the toup a bit lower...

  4. For many years, I did not want to believe that Shatner wore a toupee during the original series. Then at a ST convention in the late '80s I bought a poster-side photo enlargement from the original negative of the Kirk-Spock portrait taken for the March 1967 TV Guide cover. The quality of the first-generation enlargement makes it clear -- the lace front is apparent. It was a stunning realization for me ... it was a few years later that total confirmation came via the Solow/Justman story in "Inside Star Trek."