Saturday, February 11, 2012

Poll result and a special session of the WSSTS General Assembly.

Our most recent poll sought to gauge our readers' views on whether Bill Shatner's toupee-wearing was primarily for the actor's own self-image or for the image he wishes to convey to us, the general public (of someone who has hair).

44% said that the key thing was for Bill Shatner to see hair on his own head when he looks in the mirror (to feel young and vital). 55% said that the most important thing for Bill Shatner was for the public to see hair on his head (to see an actor with a full head of hair). A question arises: If there were no public - for example, if the actor was stuck on a desert island with a box of toupees - would Bill Shatner still bother?

Thanks for voting!

The WSSTS General Assembly building. Notice the "bald dome" ceiling design; though not visible in this image, the dome is covered from above by a giant replica toupee.

Now, during this week, the various department heads and key specialists at the William Shatner School of Toupological Studies went into an extraordinary session in the WSSTS General Assembly building (pictured above). Several days of fierce debate followed and yielded some fascinating observations. Why?

One of our toupologists flagged a clip of Bill Shatner's 1994 guest appearance in the short-lived sci-fi series seaQuest DSV. The episode in question is called "Hide and Seek" and a clip was recently uploaded to YouTube by user and devoted Bill Shatner clip collector "Zainin6662".

Let's first take a break with this brief and amusing snippet from the episode:


According to Wikipedia's summary, in "Hide and Seek" Bill Shatner plays "...ousted dictator and escaped UEO prisoner Milos Tezlov, who wants ... dolphins to train for militaristic purposes. However, when [Stephanie Beacham's character] notices Tezlov's autistic son Caesar taking an extreme liking to dolphins, she forges a deal for her release, granting Tezlov passage aboard the seaQuest."

Not really worth dwelling too much on a plot in which an ousted dictator goes by the name of Milos Tezlov!

seaQuest DSV
was one of a spate of mid-90s sci-fi shows that came in the wake of the popularity of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Most suffered from terminal blandness, endless meddling by network and studio "suits" and were largely forgotten soon after they were cancelled. Some, like Sliders, lasted five seasons; others, like the insufferably awful seaQuest, three...

But let's turn to the clip that caused such excitement at the WSSTS:

Bill Shatner has three daughters (Leslie, Lisabeth and Melanie) by his first wife Gloria. And although they were all born bald...

...because they were female, they all soon grew thick and resplendent heads of hair. Thus, the actor never had to face the potential pain of seeing his baldness gene affecting a male heir.

But in this episode of seaQuest, Bill Shatner evidently managed to move past the risible dialogue and (perhaps in an effort to save the episode) channel some profound personal emotions related to the above.

"My son," says the actor sounding like Marlon Brando's Jor-El. "What if?" Bill Shatner appears to be thinking, pouring himself into this otherwise flat character. "What if I had a son?" Let's examine the first part of the on-screen moment again and then look at the rest in slow-motion:

"My son. My heir. My heir and my curse," the character says. But the first "heir" sounds more like "hair". "My son. My hair," Bill Shatner appears to reflect wistfully. The meaning is clear. There is both a blessing and a curse here. The latter is the baldness gene; will his son suffer as he did? The character slowly sighs, the pain welling up inside his soul into a powerful on-screen crescendo that reflects both despair but also hope. "My curse..." Bill Shatner will bequeath his son not only the curse of baldness, but also the potential power of the toupee. It's a complex and potentially volatile mix.

"You will carry me inside you, all the days of your life. You will make my strength your own, and see my life through your eyes, as your life will be seen through mine. The son becomes the father, and the father the son."

As Bill Shatner delivers these incredibly emotional, personal and heartfelt words, his hand moves gently to his fictional son's hair (brown and curly, much like the actor's own hair would have been at that age).

He strokes it lovingly, but then pulls at it. Perhaps to see if it is still strong. Or are there already terrifying signs that it is growing weak and thin? Or perhaps it is also a moment of jealousy. "Dammit, I wish I still had this! Does it come off? Can I have it?" The sheer volume of subtext that can be inferred here is truly overwhelming.

What emerges is one of the most complex, multi-layered and profoundly moving performances ever committed to the screen in the history of both cinema and television. Bill Shatner managed to mine aspects of himself, delving deep into the darker parts of his psyche to create an electric moment of television that may well be studied for decades, if not centuries. It's a shame that Bill Shatner himself speaks not of the toupee, for his thoughts on how he, as an actor, prepared himself for this gruelingly personal scene would be as priceless as hearing from Shakespeare how he wrote Hamlet. But that is not to be...

And that is why the WSSTS convened a Special Session. There was so much to discuss about this moment and so many at the School who felt that it so perfectly encapsulated the essence of what makes toupology such a stimulating and rewarding field of study! And we didn't even get to the mustache!


  1. In the words of George Takei ("as in toupee") -"Oh my!". The toupologist responsible for this particular write-up has surpassed themselves. This site is always incredibly well-written but this is bordering on genius! Thank you.

  2. Today I found this terrific Youtube Channel-

    There many clips of Shatner especially in the crucial pre-toup/early Kirk lace crossover period, the wellspring of toupological research.

    Enjoyed the latest poll, though I happen to believe that the true impetus for committing to a perruque begins with appeasing the man in the mirror.

    Loving the blog, many thanks.

  3. Ratty Lost Year PieceFebruary 16, 2012 at 7:29 AM

    If Shatner were stuck on a desert island with a box of toupees - would he still bother?

    I'd imagine so, for the purpose of sun protection. In this case, the TJ Curly may best gird against the elements.
    I wonder, what would Bill's "Desert Island Toupee" selection be? Given his many attempts to match current styles, he may fashion his own out of palm fronds.

  4. he'd take diamonds, bamboo and gunpowder and make a toupee out of those along with the palm fronds if he wanted to make a splash on his new island

  5. if you have seen recent videos of shatner, in many he has short cut hair. there's no way he has a toupee that small. if he has not his real hair, he must have had a hair transplant. but that is also unlikely because he is getting old(but i'm no doctor). i actually think he has some real hair but that he has sometimes wore tupees to convey different hair styles to different roles

  6. @johan. so it's not a toupee, and not a hair transplant, but not his real hair either. Interesting...

  7. @johan: yes, you must be right - seems toupologically clear to me!!It's all revealed now!

  8. @johann: I beg to differ! Have a look at the VERY recent pics online of Shats at the opening night of his Broadway show. Gone is the (reasonably convincing) Denny of late; back now - what appears to be a geriatric version of the JKL! Can someone link a pic? I'm useless. It's got a QUIFF! Tony Curtis, anyone?!

  9. Very strange hair, indeed

  10. Off topic question but now that Blagojevich has reported to prison will we now know if he wears a toupee? You'd think they'd make him take it off as he could hide things in there. Is a celebrity reporting to prison the ultimate toupological truth teller?

  11. but there's no question that Blago's hair is genuine. And no question that Shatner's hair is artificial. "Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm real" (except for the hair).

  12. This site has alot of good theories on Bill Shatners alleged use of a toupee. But what is really required is a picture with him bald. That is the only way to be sure. Like Jesus coming to Earth and showing us God. Bringing religion into this and being inspired by it. I think of the jihadist suicide bombers, willing to risk all for a cause. Or in less serious tone a dirty dozen style mission needs to be set up. During a live TV program a set of trained men in the audience take to action and test his hair? Now he is an old man, so abit unfair, but perhaps this should have happened in one of those 70s TV shows?

    1. Ratty Lost Years PieceApril 8, 2015 at 8:27 AM

      It can't be done, Anonymous: Shatner's underlying fear of a public de-touping, plus reflexes chemically enhanced through decades of exposure to toupee glue, combine to give him astonishingly quick Toup-Fu.

      Search the videos on the site. Nemoy makes an ill fated grab for the Denny Katz, only to be parried by Shatner, before he retaliates with a snake fisted denture grab:

      Even Koko, the signing gorilla, is no match for the Shat:
      If a fricking hyper intelligent gorilla - that has her own cereal, no less - can't pull it off, what chance would a ragtag group of scoundrels have?