Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"The Deadly Years" - an HD study.

The Star Trek website continues its important mission to bring us better quality images of William Shatner's toupee with the publication of high-definition screen-caps of the original series episode "The Deadly Years".

As Trek fans will know, this particular episode features probably the most remarkable changes to Bill Shatner's toupee in the entire three-year run of the series. The plot sees a landing party, which includes Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Chekov exposed to a particular form of radiation that brings about rapid aging. All the actors get to have considerable fun with these circumstances.

Let's have a look what happens to Captain Kirk's hair in the episode - click on the below images for more HD detail.

We start out with the usual "Jim Kirk lace", albeit looking rather more freshly-combed than usual (a sort of combed by your mother after having a bath look).

During the first phase of aging, the hairline is raised a little, with a widow's peak visible and the hair either side of it receding more than normal.

The front lace allows the hair to be combed back, while still maintaining a natural-looking hairline.

As Kirk ages, he gains more wrinkles, but his hairstyle stays the same.

Rather unusually, the sides are gray (Bill Shatner's real hair has been dyed - correction: a reader tells us its a spray-on hair color), while the toupee starts out light brown and slowly gets yellower.

We do see areas of receding at the top sides not normally seen.

Then, as the aging process continues, something truly extrordinary happens.

Bill Shatner's hair not only turns white, but his hairline moves down and his hair actually thickens!

Whereas the first hair stage was likely a modified version of Bill Shatner's usual lace, here we have a new lace with gray hair. The style is combed back into an unusual shell.

During the very final aging stage, we get yet more weirdness. Kirk's hair thickens yet again and the famous frontal swoosh makes a sudden comeback.


So what happened? It's possible that Star Trek's head of makeup Fred Phillips intended for stages 2 and 3 to continue the trend visible in stage 1. That would have meant a graually receding hairline and a continuing thinning of the hair. Did Bill Shatner step in and refuse? Did Phillips, in true Scotty fashion say "But Bill, I cannot make it any thicker, it isn't realistic!"?

Did Bill Shatner, echoing Kirk talking to Scotty, retort: "I want thicker hair in five minutes or you're all dead!" Was the Phillips-Shatner relationship fraught with tension over occasional rejected hairpieces?

Fred Phillips with Leonard Nimoy.

In a sense, the strange reversal evident in the episode serves as a precursor to the later shocking increase in hair thickness visible as the "Jim Kirk lace" became the "Lost Years" of the 1970s and then the even thicker hair of the "TJ Curly" era (below).

Also of note is that cameras were allowed in to photograph the aging hair and makeup being applied during the production of "The Deadly Years":

This really is what it seems to be, glue going over the lace line.

Was an agreement reached beforehand that no pictures showing the toupee being applied onto Bill Shatner's head would be allowed? Or were the photographers only allowed in once the "hair" was on? Why is there a young toupee but aging makeup being applied in the picture above? Some falsification for the cameras?

See for yet more images from the makeup chair.

This publicity exercise contrasts sharply with a previous toupee-related incident in which a photographer was brought in to take pictures of Leonard Nimoy's Spock ears being applied a year earlier - Bill Shatner was angry as he didn't want to risk having his "little makeup secrets" revealed.

There have been some rumors out there that Bill Shatner may have worn a wig on top of a toupee during the aging stages in this episode. Upon consideration, we don't think there's any evidence to support these claims - after all, the cast and crew knew the actor wore a toup and all that ever mattered was that us the audience be kept in the dark. To place a wig on top of a toup would thus have been completely pointless and would also have looked ridiculous.

At the end of the episode, Kirk makes one of the most awesome returns in the history of everything. The acting captain Commodore Stocker is failing at his job, frozen as the Enterprise is pummeled by the Romulans. Enter Kirk, young once again, his toupee back to normal! A truly iconic Star Trek moment.

We'll conclude with two short clips of Kirk mentioning hair in "The Deadly Years": once Dr McCoy's and then his own (including a "Real Hair Reflex", pictured above). The latter of the two features a unique explanation for what has happened to his hair "radiation will do that to you". Perhaps that's also the explanation for why Captain Kirk's hair seems to get thicker as he ages in this episode! These are possibly the only ever times Bill Shatner as Kirk mentioned hair in the entire Star Trek series (any other examples, please let us know):


  1. Thomas Jefferson CurlyMarch 2, 2011 at 2:50 PM


    when they did the CG enchanted version of this ep a couple of years ago with the new FX of the spaceships etc they shouldve CG'ed in a Lost Years toup followed by 'TJ curly'...followed by a 'Denny Crane special' for the end

    off topic a bit this next bit but one day i hope they do a season 4 and 5 of TOS using CG. Deaging and bringing back dead actors via CG is only gonna get better and better and is obviously gonna lead to some crazy one day i foresee them doing TOS again, maybe even more movies (hell guys in their bedrooms will probably be able to do it and post em on Utube like they do today - only making em look flawless)

  2. One minor correction: for the middle-age period, the makeup artist did not "dye" Shatner's hair. That's spray on hair color - very common for theatrical use - used it myself in my stage days. Looks great from a distance, but flat up close.

  3. Thanks, "Anonymous". We've updated the post. -ST

  4. I've been an avid reader of this blog for a while now & this was the one episode that stood out in my mind as needing further analysis. No crew member is affected by hairloss despite the ageing process. Had Shatner outlawed male pattern baldness? Surely some of the crew would have experienced hairloss?

  5. This episode defies logic, in a very hairy way

  6. Ratty Lost Years PieceMarch 2, 2011 at 10:43 PM

    How many hands did it take to hold down Shatner and glue on that rug? I count at least two men, and possibly one Sasquatch.

  7. This episode actually holds a message. Bill says: "When I grow old, I won't be bald!" It up to us believe it or not!

  8. In the 6th picture his hairline goes back so friggin far!!! Much farther than the regular jim kirk lace. And since they only ordered two toups per season, and since that toup doesn't look like the regular jim kirk lace, I think what we are seeing is his real hair colored by spray and thickened by that stuff they used on walter konigs bald spot.

    But for some reason, they decided to go back to his toupee for the white hair. Hmmmmm. This requires the touposcopes to be cranked up to full power! Even if your men say "We canna do it".

  9. More Amazing toupee lines:
    Is this is a tacit admission by Shatner that he wears a toupee? He's making it pretty obvious.

  10. I think the "glue going over the lace line" pic is acutaly a "glue going on before the toup" pic. Maybe I'm seeing things, but it looks like I'm seeing some scalp showing through on the front of his head.

  11. Thanks, "adidas" very revealing image.

    "Anonymous", we have been trying to encourage non-Blogspot-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 (avoiding multiple cases of "Anonymous"). Thanks! -ST

  12. The Deadly Years is a good episode, but a failure in the toupee department. Shatner looks more like an ageing wolfman.

  13. Stallion CornellMarch 5, 2011 at 1:33 AM

    I remember, as a kid, wondering about Kirk's hairline in this episode, and I actually thought that they had made some kind of "bald wig" to cover up pieces of Shatner's "hair." It wasn't until ST:TMP that I considered the possibility that Shatner may not have needed a "bald wig" after all.

  14. Indiana Shatner and the Temple of ToupsMarch 5, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    yknow this ep could yet come true - if Shat 'grew' his Denny Crane mesh and slicked it back wouldnt it look kinda like it does in pics 4,5,6 etc when Kirk is supposed to be in his late 60s or 70s?

    and whos to say shatner wont miricolusly have that uber thick silver hair when he gets to his 90s? (especially when a possible baldness cure is getting closer each day)

    i need to watch this ep again and see if theres any point before he gets too old that Kirk is rockin anything resembling a TJ Curly! (in that 3rd pic down Kirks hair is looking thicker than normal for season 2)

  15. Hey ST, thanks for the TOS episode review! This one's a long time coming.

    This episode confirmed to me that the Shat's frontal hairline was a thing of the past.

    In that first behind-the-scenes picture, Shatner looks pretty uncomfortable. Perhaps he was afraid his own toupee would slip off while pictures were being snapped?

    Curiously I didn't like his regular toupee look in this episode. He had this wavy thing going in the middle of Season 2 that I wasn't a fan of.

  16. Shatner's definitely still wearing the Jim Kirk lace in the early aging stages. You can see the lace line, especially in HD. But it may have been moved a bit higher than usual on his forehead.

  17. Jim Kirk mentions hair twice in Star Trek II; he asks Saavik, "Lieutenant, are you wearing your hair differently?" McCoy then enters the turbolift, passing Saavik, and asks Kirk whether she changed her hair style. Kirk claims he "hadn't noticed." Apropos.

  18. You need to get a life.

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