Thursday, August 11, 2011

The TJ toup takedown.

A reader recently brought to our attention a third season episode of TJ Hooker called "The Lipstick Killer" noting that a wig removal scene was contained therein. We were compelled to investigate!

The plot involves a murderer who is dressing up as a female nurse (including wearing a wig). This aspect features prominently in the episode as TJ Hooker deduces that the killer may be a man dressed up as a woman:

At the end of the episode comes a showdown between TJ and the bad guy in which the police sergeant tears off the bad guy's fake hair:

To our knowledge, the episode's director Sigmund Neufeld Jr. has never spoken publicly about the toupological aspects of this episode. But if he had, here's what we think he might have said:

"This town ain't big enough for two wigs!"

"When Bill Shatner first got his copy of this script and realized that the episode would be dealing with fake hair, he immediately called the production staff to his home for a meeting. 'Hair is something I know about,' he said 'And I want to help make this episode as believable as possible.' Bill then went through the script line by line and was extremely helpful, telling us 'artificial hair wouldn't behave like that' or 'here in this scene, you need to make sure that wig is lit from behind because wigs have different spectral properties' and those sorts of things. He took the whole thing very, very seriously and turned out to be immensely helpful."

And what of the wig pulling scene?

"Originally, we were planning to use a stuntman for that shot, as pulling off someone's wig can be risky and should only be done by professionals. But Bill insisted that he could do it, so we finally relented. What he ultimately did was amazing. Right away you could tell that this was a guy that had great experience with and even love for artificial hair. The way he pulled the hair off in that shot - gripping it in just the right place; a firm deliberate yank - even some of the best stuntmen in the world couldn't have done it that well. It was really an amazing experience and one I'll never forget."

Curiously, the scene ends with Bill Shatner holding the bad guy's wig (in his right hand).

In the very next scene, Bill Shatner is looking a little sheepish and the wig is nowhere to be found!

A souvenir for TJ Hooker? Or more than that...? We'll probably never know.

UPDATE: Thanks to tips supplied by our readers, we have another example for you of TJ Hooker tearing off someone's wig. This time, it's from the fourth season episode "Target: Hooker". What's really remarkable about this sequence, in which Hooker tears off the wig of a male Marilyn Monroe impersonator, is just how similar it is to "The Lipstick Killer" wig tear moment:

The editing is a little different, holding for a few frames more on Bill Shatner as he performs the stunt.

But the way the artificial hair is torn off is almost identical.

So why was such a moment repeated on TJ Hooker within the space of a year? Was it the volume of fan mail that came in after "The Lipstick Killer" applauding any moments in which Bill Shatner overtly interacts with hair?

Or was it Bill Shatner himself demanding more toup-pulling scenes? To distract from his own hair? Or, conversely, to make subtle hints at it? Perhaps the suggestion is that you don't wear fake hair if you have enough real hair of your own! So many questions...

As a toupological bonus, "Target: Hooker" also contains this:


  1. James Toupeerius KirkAugust 11, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    I'd loved to see the bad guy pull of TJ Hookers wig in turn!
    Of course, TJ Hooker doesn't wear a Toupet, Shatner does...

  2. Some death defying toupee-in-the-water scenes in various TJ episodes need investigating also!

  3. This is not the only wig removal scene in TJ hooker - there is another one where the bad guy was dressed as Marilyn Monroe and doing a performance. After the performance Shatner barged into the guy's dressing room and tore off his blond wig. Ironically the bad guy's wig looked more natural than the Shat's in the scene - I think the bad guy was wearing a lacefront. I will try to find the clip.

  4. With all this toupee pulling stuff, TJ was bolder than Jim Kirk!!

  5. I feel so honored to have you write this entry up! Toup of the day to ya!

  6. Ratty Lost Years PieceAugust 12, 2011 at 1:43 AM

    It seems the killer's wig goes missing at the end of the episode. Bob Justman might have an idea about where it went!

  7. Thanks for putting up the Marilyn Monroe clip. Interestingly, the hairstyle the guy had under the Monroe wig is quite similar to the Jim Kirk lace style, except done with real hair! I wonder how the Shat felt about that.

  8. It is so ironic that Shat is pulling the wigs off these female impersonators while he himself was wearing a girdle and a wig!

  9. shats own real syrupAugust 13, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    its quite amazing, how bill, would wear that tj toup for decades, and not think for one moment, that anyone with two brain cells, could not work out in no time that he is wearing a toup. The close up picture you show at the top, of the page shows tj in close up, come on now " thats a toup, not even as good as the jim kirk one. And his still deluding him self to this day. Come on shats.....just admit it....yes you have been wearing a toup for nearly 53 years, without a the toup even that slilly tj dead raccoon stuck on your head, takes away that your a decent actor...that you are.

  10. Ratty Lost Years PieceAugust 13, 2011 at 10:11 PM


    The toupee adds to the Shatner mystique. Without it, he might have been just another highly regarded character actor. With the piece, however, Shatner has become, to borrow a Batman quote, "more than a man." He has transcended all media - books, TV, music, even videogames. All of this was accomplished because the lure of the toupee kept drawing us, the audience, back.

    Demands for Shatner to lose the toupee have been ignored. In the Comedy Central Roast, Jeff Ross says, "Have mercy Shatner, hang up the hairpiece!" Shatner just looks at him and smiles, without even a toup-scratch. Here's the video:

  11. shats own real syrupAugust 14, 2011 at 2:16 AM

    @ ratty lost years piece. you are absolutely right, bill is the toup and the toup is bill. And for sure he had to wear a toup, he was a young actor when he started, and it would have certainly stopped him in his career, without the piece on top.....i also surport, that it adds a certain interest as well, i am pleased that bill shats has made so many film and tv shows, i for one would hate to see, a decent actor like the shats the way does anyone know, if shats knows about this website......i bet he would enjoy it, as much as we

  12. @Ratty Lost Years Piece

    i can imagine a young Bill in the 50s encountering a toup wearing mentor type:

    young Bill: You're wig wearers!
    toup wearing mentor: No, no, no. A wigwearer is just a man lost in the scramble for his own gratification. He can be destroyed, or locked up. But if you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can't stop you, then you become something else entirely.
    Shatner: Which is?
    toup wearing mentor: A legend, Mr. Shatner...a legend

    *rousing instrumental score kicks in*

    also i saw the Presige a few days ago - the film starring batman and wolverine as magicians and i couldn help but think of shatner with all the talk of deception and fooling people and commiting ones life to an ideal. Shatner is basically a magician

    somneone should write a Batman Begins style script about Shatner starting out as an actor and discovering the toup

  13. A planned Star Trek theme park in Jordan. Will they have a Shatner toupee exhibit?

    "The Star Trek-themed 'space-flight adventure' will be created under licence from CBS Consumer Products, which manages the licensing of television shows including the CSI series."

  14. There's also "Toupicon 2011" - the world's first convention dedicated to the subject of Bill Shatner's toupees! Panel discussions, slide shows, stalls selling replica toupees; special guests to be confirmed. -ST

  15. What if we're looking at TJ Hooker all wrong? ShatToup has analyzed Hooker from the perspective of an actor, who wears a bad rug, playing a cop. Instead, what if we view Shatner's role as an actor, playing a cop, who wears a bad rug?
    From this perspective, TJ Hooker becomes a master class in Method acting and channels all toupological events - and hood dives - into Hooker's character development.