Monday, September 26, 2011

Poll result and variegated toupological miscellany.

Our most recent poll asked for your thoughts on the question of when - or if - Bill Shatner went fully Patrick Stewart-style bald.

Only one voter thought that this was only in recent times; 5% thought it was during the 1990s, while he was in his 60s; 10% thought it was during the 1980s, while he was in his 50s; 18% thought it was during the 1960s, while he was in his 30s; 28% said: "Never. There's probably still something on top, though not much." The most votes, 35%, went to the 1970s option, while Bill Shatner was in his 40s.

Bill Shatner circa 1972 - was he already fully bald underneath?

Thanks for voting! Now for the variegated toupological miscellany part...

Firstly, we have a truly incredible image - perhaps the defining image of our age - Bill Shatner looking knowingly at a bald eagle. Is he angry? After all, the bald eagle isn't actually bald. So why call yourself bald if you're not? Doesn't that do a disservice to people like Bill Shatner? Or is it only fair? Bill Shatner doesn't call himself bald and he is, so why not the other way round? Or was Bill Shatner angry because he moved to the US when he learned that its national symbol was the bald eagle - and then he discovered that it wasn't really bald.

The image was on sale at eBay (apparently it's from a 1971 documentary).

To make matters even more poignant, here's Bill Shatner in 2008 talking about the plight of this bird (using the word "bald" three times) and contrasting it to action on climate change. Perhaps he feels great affection and empathy with any creature who is labelled as "bald"!

Next, it seems that Bill Shatner is increasingly sneaking the word "hair" into almost every interview he undertakes these days. Is this part of a process to make the actor more comfortable with such matters? Or is he giving a nod - as politicians often do - to his base?

Firstly, we have a recent radio interview in which Bill Shatner talked to Howard Stern (with George Takei also present - the full interview can be heard in three parts here).

The debate shifts to that eternally fascinating question of why Bill Shatner, now both wealthy and well into his autumnal years, still works so hard. Stern then reveals that he only works three days a week. Bill Shatner asks what he does with the rest of his time before adding "Well, I mean, cut some hair...!" An interesting suggestion for one's free time. Does Bill Shatner use his free time to work on his hair?

And did Bill Shatner know that there are questions about Stern's own hair too?

Next, we have a recent interview between Bill Shatner and his daughter Lisabeth, in which Captain Kirk set the nerdosphere ablaze by claiming that Star Trek was better than Star Wars (full clip here). Once again, Bill Shatner manages to sneak the word "hair" into the mix:

In this case, the actor's statements are pretty ironic considering his own toupological history.

"God knows what those actors [in Star Wars] look like in reality with all those special effects. I mean, there's no telling what ILM did for those faces and those hairdos. They may have walked around with nothing on! ... We don't know! We don't know what they were like."

Image sourced here.

The above words really could not have more double-meaning. The same, of course, can be said for Captain Kirk in the original series. Can we ever truly appreciate what the Star Trek hair department did for Bill Shatner? When the cameras were off, he too could have been walking around without his toupee - and, well, we don't know!"

Some of you also noted some interesting idiosyncrasies of Bill Shatner's "Denny Katz" in the aforementioned clip.

Was the toup dyed or colored darker than Bill Shatner's real hair at the back of his head (we'd say the answer to that is probably yes)? And what's going on at the sides?

And, as some of you wondered, is Bill Shatner's hair undergoing another major shift - perhaps a return to a style more akin to the "Jim Kirk lace" (perhaps as part of lobbying efforts to be in the next Trek movie)? Or is he simply utilizing the "flexible booster pack" abilities of the "Denny Katz"?

According to our "Department of Toupological Alterations" which is responsible for maintaining its color-coded "Toupological Advisory System", the risk of a major hairstyle shift still remains low. Their advise, at present, is: "Remain calm but vigilant as there are some minimal signs that Bill Shatner would perhaps like to make his 'Denny' a little more 'Jim-like'".

"That guy next to me actually has hair but shaves it! What's the world coming to?"

Finally, as reader "Clayton Forrester" pointed out, talk-show host Craig Ferguson recently included a Bill Shatner toupee joke in his monologue.

Toupee joke around 2m 44s.

What makes this all the more significant is that this was just days after Bill Shatner appeared as a guest on his show. We doubt very much that there were any negative vibes during that appearance or malice intended during the latter. Rather, it appears that the opposite is true.

So does Bill Shatner welcome good toupological jokes, even in public, from his friends (so long as he isn't there directly)? Or has Ferguson committed a major faux pas?

Thanks, as always, to our readers for your endless tips!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Quintessentially lost...

Studying the various toupees from Bill Shatner's "Lost Years" period (1970-76) is a full-time job. Thankfully, we have hundreds of staff employed in just that very task! Which brings us to a recent picture we managed to dig up, though we don't know where it's from or on what date it was taken - though toupology can, at least, help us to zero in.

The toupological nadir of the "Lost Years" came between 1971 and 1974.

1970: Though technically no longer a lace frontal hairpiece, the "Jim Kirk" style still persists.

Sole Survivor (1970).

1971: The fashions of the times see male hair becoming increasingly longer, and Bill Shatner is no exception. But in terms of style, it's still arguably not too bad.

Ironside: "Walls are Waiting" (1971).

1972: The "Lost Years" period really takes off. Odd hairlines, excessive thickness etc.

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1972).

1973: Perhaps the absolute toupological low point. The word "toupee" itself almost ceases to become applicable, with "wig" seeming more appropriate.

Impulse (filmed in 1973).

1974-75: It starts off poorly...

Big Bad Mama (1974).

...but some time during 1975, Bill Shatner's hair suddenly undergoes a truly drastic shift towards a more appropriate, stylish look - and one more akin to the "Jim Kirk lace".

On Geraldo Rivera's Good Night America circa '75 (a since-disappeared video listed this as 1974, but we think this may have been mistaken).

This trend continues. Bill Shatner is suddenly thinner, smarter etc.

This would thus tend to date the picture atop this page, with its extraordinary "high hairline" circa 1973-75. But as we often see, outliers can't be ruled out either.

By 1976, another rapid shift and the "TJ Curly" was born:

So what happened around 1975 that made Bill Shatner smarten up his hair, only to ditch this new look by 1976? We cant' know for sure, but we can present a theory:

Although Star Trek: The Motion Picture itself would not be made for a number of years, around late 1974, Bill Shatner may have heard the first rumors circulating that reviving Star Trek was seriously being considered by Paramount. Did these rumours cause the actor to tidy himself up should he get a telephone call?

When the calls did not come (the process of reviving Star Trek was rife with severe delays and false starts) and when Barbary Coast failed, was there a moment of crisis for Bill Shatner?

One night, standing on a bridge, weeping and filled with despair, did Bill Shatner suddenly tear off his new toupee and throw it into the river below? "To hell with Star Trek and to hell with you!!!" Captain Kirk, it seemed, would not come to the rescue after all. The new toupees, the weight loss, had all apparently been for nothing...

A revived toupee is thrown into a river.

Is that how the "TJ Curly" was born?

What did John Lennon do in 1969... soon as it was clear that The Beatles were indeed splitting?

He cut his hair.

Faced with disappointment, Bill Shatner changed it. Who needed the technology of Star Trek? Bill Shatner and his new hair would now have their (video here) own:

And who needed The God Thing (the name of the aborted Star Trek TV movie Gene Roddenberry was working on)? By 1976, the new Bill Shatner had Mysteries of the Gods!

The "TJ Curly" may have thus been a belated version of...

And by the time Star Trek came knocking again, it would have to accept the new Bill Shatner - more on that in our upcoming ST:TMP full toupological analysis.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A ruffle and a scratch.

Imagine having crucial Bill Shatner-related toupological information in your head and not even knowing it: matters of texture, thickness, firmness and other invaluable tactile data. At the William Shatner School of Toupological Studies we have computer models, robots, toupee mockups and all manner of tools at our disposal to help us in understanding William Shatner's toupee-wearing.

A toupological experiment carried out on a "Turbo Shatner" robot at the WSSTS.

But nothing beats first-hand information.

"I agree!"

And that is what we find in footage (recently uploaded to YouTube by "zainin666") from a 1983 episode of Battle of the Network Stars - a series, which ran from 1976 to 1988 - in which celebrities compete in all manner of sporting events. Bill Shatner was something of a regular.

However, in this instance, and after a rather arduous inflatable kayak race, a (mock or semi-mock) argument breaks out among some of the competing celebrities - specifically Bill Shatner and none other than Mr. T - about the rules.

As this argument is unfolding, one of the competing celebrities sneaks up behind Bill Shatner and gives him a rather thorough hair ruffling.

A brief struggle ensues...

...with Bill Shatner swiftly pulling away his smiling co-star's hands from his toupee.

The moment in slow-motion:

Who is this bold celebrity? It's actor Edward Albert, most famous for his role in the terrific 1972 movie Butterflies Are Free.

Edward Albert and Goldie Hawn in Butterflies Are Free (1972).

Why did he do it? What did the toupee feel like? How did Bill Shatner react afterwards? Sadly, whatever crucial tactile and other toupological data Albert could have revealed has likely been lost forever. The actor passed away in 2006.

Mr. T (left), Edward Albert (center) and William Shatner (right).

Back to the scuffle! Moments later, having had his hair ruffled...

...Bill Shatner performs a subtle "Real hair reflex" action just to make sure everything is still alright up there:

What's rather extraordinary in general about the appearances by Bill Shatner in this series is that the actor found himself outside of the toupologically safe confines of the film set for an extended period of time - and in front of the public. What if something went wrong with the toup!?!

The likely reason for this, asides from Bill Shatner's risk-taking nature, is the added security provided the the "TJ Curly - phase II". With the toupee now anchored to real hair at the sides, it was far more secure and durable. Kayaking, wet hair, arguments with Mr. T - no problem!

Interestingly, the wetter the toup, the more realistic and less toup-like it appears.

And who is the interviewer/host?

Toup meets toup - a year before in 1982 (the toup down the sides is more noticeable).

Why, it's Howard Cosell - this legendary picture says it all:

You can watch a collection of Bill Shatner's appearances in Battle of the Network Stars courtesy of "zainin666" below: