Friday, July 31, 2009
Below is a complete list of quotes from Captain Quirk- the 1995 biography of William Shatner written by paranormal investigator Dennis William Hauck - that relate to the subject of Shatner's toupee. A disclaimer is crucial here: please do not take the author's words at face value. Despite basically being a fairly decent biography, the book is also full of tabloid-style and unfounded speculation (for example about Shatner having plastic surgery), sensationalistic insinuation and even a few basic errors. If you believed everything in this book, then Shatner would have to be a UFO-obsessed crazed tyrant. Still, there are some interesting stories here, especially the one about the flying toupee:
"Unfortunately, the bright sunlight made Shatner's long-haired toupee all the more obvious. The black hairpiece clashed against his blonde eyebrows and yellow jacket, giving him the appearance of a Beatle doll. His natural light-brown hair had steadily receded over the last decade leaving a bald spot at the crown of his head. His efforts to cover it up were betrayed by his inability to decide on one style or color. This was the longest hairpiece he had ever worn, and the unkempt look and dark color were dead giveaways." (See here for more on this incident).
“As for Joan Collins, she says their relationship soured the day she walked into [Shatner's] dressing room and caught him without his wig on.” (This story relates to the pair working together in the first season Star Trek episode "The City on the Edge of Forever").
“Unfortunately, the decade since he’d last played Captain Kirk had taken its toll. He had gained twenty-five pounds, most of it in a spare tyre that hugged his waist. The crown of his head was completely bald, and other assets that had made him the heartthrob of millions were now noticeably sagging…some suggested that Shatner resorted to some less than natural means of regaining his youth, such as liposuction, a facelift and a new hair weave. Looking back over the first few Trek films, Newsweek commented that while the rest of the actors were getting ‘jowly and gray,’ Shatner appeared to be growing ‘curiously smooth-skinned and hairy.’”
“Actress Molly Cheek, who was a regular on It’s Gary Sandling’s Show…guest starred in a T.J. Hooker episode…[and] recalled…‘he wears a girdle and a terrible hairpiece and is the male counterpart to a grande dame.’”
“This time [for Star Trek III] Shatner also opted for a much younger hairstyle. The thick locks he suddenly sprouted prompted many a snide remark. One reviewer suggested retitling the movie Star Trek III: The Search for a Good Toupee.” (See here for more on this).
“Once while directing a scene [for Star Trek V], he got so worked up, he stumbled over a large rock and fell to the ground. The force of the fall flung his hairpiece across the set, and as the mortified director got back to his feet, a group of extras in the scene started laughing out loud. Shatner fired them all on the spot, with no further discussion.”
“Susan Rosini noted in USA Today : ‘You don’t have to be a Trekkie to savor this timely plot [of Star Trek VI]. Even though Scotty looks like he’s hiding a meteor under his shirt, Kirk looks like a squirrel is napping on his head, and Spock’s ears aren’t quite as perky, this is quite a suitable send-off.’”
“[Shatner’s mistress Vera Montez] said that despite his toupee and corset, Shatner was very romantic and a wonderful lover.”
“'The most outrageously enjoyable turn [in the 1993 movie National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1] is William Shatner's' wrote the San Fransisco Examiner, 'as the ludicrously toupeed, Banana-Republic-outfitted villain who gobbles piranhas with glee.'”
“Always concerned about his appearance, [Shatner] has undertaken a variety of cosmetic and health routines to ensure he looks his best. At one point, he was spending $2000 a month to keep his hairweave looking fresh. In one Hollywood poll, Shatner tied with Sean Connery at the top of a list of actors who do the best job of hiding their ‘chrome domes.’ Shatner did such a good job that he started receiving requests for ‘hair grants.’ Dozens of financially strapped bald men have asked him for anywhere between $500 and $10,000 to buy wigs or start expensive hair treatments. Yet despite Shatner’s active participation in a number of charities, the requests have all been denied.
“Along with Sean Connery, Burt Reynolds, Tony Bennet, Rob Reiner and Rip Taylor, Shatner shares one of Hollywood’s best known ‘secrets.’ They are all bald. But Shatner would be the last to admit it.
“In November 1994, while promoting Star Trek: Generations, Shatner agreed to a telephone interview on Florida’s ‘Power Pig’ radio station, WFLA in Tampa. Toward the middle of the interview, deejay M.J. Kelley brought up the forbidden subject: ‘I hope this is not a sensitive question – the hairpiece. It’s the best I’ve ever seen.’ ‘I don’t wear a hairpiece,’ said Shatner tersely. ‘That’s the stupidest question I’ve ever heard. “M.J.” must stand for “Most Jerk.” That’s a stupid question by a stupid person.’ Thereupon, Shatner hung up the phone, abruptly terminating the interview.” (See here for more on this incident).
“Death and growing old were always touchy subjects for Shatner. Corsets, hairpieces, health fads and working out were all part of his strategy to keep looking young. Amazingly, he never kept any personal photographs because he did not want to see 'the harsh reality of the passage of time etched in the unforgiving stills.'”
A reader has alerted us to a May 1970 picture of Shats sourced from here from the early days of the actor's post-Star Trek years. We have to say that this is probably one of the best toupees we've seen on Shatner from the "Dark Ages" or "Lost Years" period between 1969-1976. The hairpiece is very light and close to the head and also gives the impression of a man with at least some natural thinning of the hair - meaning the eyes stay focused on Shatner's face rather than what is above it. The later thicker or before that entirely weird-looking toupees were the ones that really distracted the eyes. Shatner Toupee rating: B
Thursday, July 30, 2009
A publicity photo from Bill Shatner's 1976 appearance in the gameshow Hollywood Squares. In this rare case, he appeared in character as James T. Kirk for a special segment called "Storybook Squares". We think it is the only time that the old Kirk look was meshed with the new Shatner hair.
The above photo (date unknown) appears to be a rare example of Bill Shatner resurrecting the old "Jim Kirk" toupee look which originally lasted from around 1959-1969. Perhaps it is something he occasionally dons when he feels a sense of nostalgia for the old Star Trek series! The classic lace frontal swoosh is unmistakable.
The closest on-screen resurrection of the old "Jim Kirk" toupee look came in the 1975 TV movie The Tenth Level. The look is very similar to the old one, but not quite exactly it. Any other examples, let us know!
By the way, we noticed that someone on Twitter is called "ShatnersToupee". Sadly, it isn't us - someone has beaten us to that name.
Captain Quirk: The Unauthorized Biography of William Shatner is a curious 1995 biography written by paranormal investigator Dennis William Hauck. For the most part it is a perfectly decent biography, and despite the exploration of some negative sides to the actor, one senses a great affection for Shatner from the author.
On the other hand, the book's opening two chapters are consumed with Hauck's personal experience of working with Shatner in 1976's Mysteries of the Gods documentary. Mixed in with this are some truly idiotic deductions with regards to Shatner, UFO's, Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry etc. It is true that Shatner had claimed to have had a UFO experience in the California desert, although he later admitted he made it up. The author of the book not only explores this alleged encounter but then attributes a great deal of Shatner's later work to a personal quest to interpret this deeply moving experience. He also makes several very spurious deductions in this regard. Baloney. Shats went where the work was, simple as that.
Anyway, here is a quote from the book with regards to Shatner's (rather long) toup. The actor is interviewing a scientist on the roof of a COMSAT technical center and the author of Captain Quirk is present at the scene:
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
At some point during the 1970s, almost every Hollywood actor grew their hair a little longer than usual - it was just the fashion of the day. But did Bill? Yes...
Here we have some stills from the 1973 TV movie The Horror at 37,000 Feet - by Shats' own admission, not one of his best filmic outings. Bill's real hair round the back and sides appears to be as long as we've ever seen it (unless you toupologists out there know otherwise). Sadly, the toup doesn't quite do justice to this hairstyle - but the less said about that, the better!
However, with the longer hair, we are offered a reminder that Bill Shatner's real hair is indeed curly and not straight. Perhaps appearances like this one led him to choose the new "Trek movie look" curly toupees as the mis-match here between real and not real is indeed very strong.
PS. On a non-toup related matter (if there is such a thing with Shats!), isn't it fun to see Bill Shatner randomly popping up in places like with his recent take on Sarah Palin's resigntaion speech, which became a viral hit on Tuesday? As someone once said: It's Shatner's world, we just live in it. Here's something else we found - William Shatner and the Beatles together at last!:
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
What went through Bill Shatner's mind the day he learned that the new captain of the USS Enterprise was to be a bald man? "Why did I bother?" "I never thought an audience would accept a bald starship captain."- I guess we'll never know... And then the next guy, Avery Brooks from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had a full head of hair but chose to shave it off! 1. Bald but covered it up 2. Openly bald. 3. Shaved his head to look bald. Maybe the hair factor is crucial to Star Trek!
By the time Star Trek entered his life, Bill Shatner had settled in on a particular style of toupee. Let's call it the "Jim Kirk" look. It is a style that had served him well for almost a decade as his hair grew increasingly thin. So why did that look die as soon as Star Trek ended in 1969?
Here is a recollection from film journalist Steve Vertlieb (pictured left in above picture) that helps shed some light:
"During the summer months of 1969, while NBC Television was airing the final reruns of the original Star Trek series on Thursday nights, William Shatner took to the road in order to do a succession of stage appearances in Summer Stock around the country. One of these appearances was scheduled for the now defunct Playhouse in the Park in Philadelphia. I suggested a possible interview with Jim Kirk to the editors of England’s L’Incroyable Cinema Magazine, and they jumped at the possibility. I telephoned the local press representation for the theatre in the round, and they arranged for an interview. Shatner was going through a bad period at this stage of his career. By his own admission, it was the worst period of his life.
Star Trek had ended with few new offers on the horizon. He feared being permanently type cast in science fiction, and his wife had begun divorce proceedings. He was literally living out of his van, and traveling cross country with his two pet Doberman Pinschers. He seemed wary of strangers as the interview began, but quickly warmed up to us."
By late 1969, the days of expensive studio toupees, like the one Shatner is wearing in this picture, seemed a distant memory.
Shatner himself has alluded to this awful time in his books. He was suddenly no longer a major television star. In fact, he was barely scraping by at all. He was sad, lonely and out of money. Mostly he worked in the theater, and occasionally he would land a TV role.
William Shatner in the TV movie Sole Survivor (1970)
So the simple answer to the toupee question is that Shatner could probably no longer afford to wear the expensive lace that he had worn throughout Star Trek and before. There isn't really much of a distinction between Shatner's personal usage and his on-screen toups during this phase. Many of these low-budget productions evidently didn't have much money to be spending on expensive hairpieces for one of their actors.
Shatner in the acclaimed 1970 television production of The Andersonville Trial
Bill Shatner may have kept his expensive Trek-era studio toups, but they required considerable maintenance and were prone to wear and tear. And therein lies a simpler explanation: The "studio laces" were tricky to apply, needing to be glued to the front of the forehead. Whereas some laces glue right under the hairline, Shatner, because he had a little hair on his own head that he didn't want to tear out, had worn a lace that had a "skin" that extended slightly forward onto the forehead. On the set, this required constant attention from a make-up artist in order not to show (yet it is still visible in higher resolution copies of Star Trek). So rather than go through this terribly finicky procedure, he gave up on having a "convincing" frontal hairline altogether and instead wore a much simpler "rug".
Thus, during the lean years of TV gameshows and so forth, the rugs Shatner wore were very bad indeed as we have explored here before. But the upside was that they required very little effort to apply.
Captain Kirk could no longer afford his quality hairpiece. Here Bill Shatner is with his Star Trek cast-mates for a 1973 publicity photo for the short-lived Star Trek animated series.
Another issue with regards to the expensive lace is underlined in the above picture. During the lean years, Shatner in fact became less-than-lean himself. And as we all know, Shatner's handsome features seemed to evaporate with every additional pound that he was overweight. Thus, the old-style lace might have looked quite terrible on an out-of-shape Shats.
And then, when money and success started to return, the curly look was born (as we explored in our previous post)...
Monday, July 27, 2009
The noted Australian satirist and commentator Clive James makes a common mistake in a 2005 article for the UK's The Independent newspaper. Here's what he writes on the subject of William Shatner's hair:
"To finish with the hair theme for the moment, take the case of that great actor William Shatner. In real life, William Shatner is a smart, funny and delightfully ironic man. But his real life is not his public life. The public William Shatner, after he left Star Trek, found that the hair on his head was growing thin. Instead of sensibly concluding that his abundance of testosterone was eating into his thatch, he must have decided that it was being eroded for another reason, perhaps because the stimulating effect of warp engine radiation had been switched off. Whatever his reasoning, when he came back to the screen as TJ Hooker he was wearing on top of his head what is known in America as a "piece".
"Three times as big as any natural hairstyle he had ever had, the piece looked as if a live dog had been nailed to his skull. You could have thrown chunks of raw meat to that thing. Yet somewhere underneath that ludicrous construction, he still had the same sharp brain. He must have known that he looked like a man crushed by a falling fox terrier. But he also knew that he was in America, where it is sufficient to make the claim in order to fulfil [sic] the expectation. Even unto death, an abundant head of hair is a requirement, along with a set of perfect teeth. If the hair is taken from an animal, even if it is the whole animal, and if the perfect teeth are blatantly a set of caps that jar with the tucked face like two roses of white plastic tombstones in the graveyard of a ruined church, still the requirements have been met. They are the requirements of celebrity, and to that extent millions of anonymous Americans behave as if they were famous. We must not let this happen to us." (Emphasis ours)
It should be mentioned that James and Shatner know each other - at least a little. Bill Shatner appeared on an episode of James' comedy/talk-show Saturday Night Clive in 1991. And if anyone has a screengrab of that interview, it would be well worth seeing because in that appearance, Shatner actually wears a toup that strongly resembles his straight and strawberry-blonde Star Trek: TOS lace. That is quite unusual in itself.
But anyway, firstly the point that James makes about when Shatner decided to wear a toup is one that is heard quite often: Shatner only started to wear a piece in later years - that "live dog" nailed to his skull. Not only will most Shatner fans tell you that that is wrong, but it kind of assumes that Shats completely disappeared between the end of Star Trek: TOS and the first Trek feature-film - maybe for many people he did. In fact, as we know, the pieces he wore in-between those two dates, in the lean years, are among the most noteworthy for their sheer awfulness.
Even so, ignoring the lean years, is it fair to say that the Trek movie-era toups are far worse or more obvious than Shatner's Trek: TOS toup? It would seem that there are those for whom the old toup was so convincing as to be unnoticeable. But is the curly toup really so much more noticeably bad? The latter toup for the most part concealed the lace line, wasn't prone to losing its structure at the slightest disturbance be it a fight scene or wind, didn't have that classic toup back-comb over the crown area and wasn't mismatched in terms of color. In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" we even saw it exposed to a lot of wind and it even went underwater! And if Shats hadn't gone bald, then it is likely that the movie-era look is the one that most closely resembles what his own hair would have looked like.
Personally, this author finds the Trek movie-era toup far less distracting to the eye, at least until Generations, where the hairline looks very artificial all the way down to the ears. But what do you think? Maybe it will be our next poll...
Thursday, July 23, 2009
There was an incident during the run of the original Star Trek that caused some friction between William Shatner and co-star Leonard Nimoy. The pair quickly made up and have since become very close friends, but back in 1967, William Shatner took exception to a makeup room photoshoot in which the application of the Spock makeup would be made public. The incident has been dealt with in several Trek-related books and Bill Shatner has previously conceded that his own jealousy of Nimoy's popularity (who is the star of this show?) was at the root of his angry reaction. It is something, he says, that he had to struggle to come to terms with in the early days of Star Trek.
But was the anger not just about popularity but also about Shatner's toupee?
In his brilliantly entertaining 2008 autobiography Up Till Now William Shatner tells the story with an additional twist he has never alluded to before. There is a secret at play. What might that secret be?:
"Leonard felt that Freddy [Phillips, Star Trek's makeup artist] had prevented Spock from becoming some kind of visual joke. So when a magazine wanted to do a photo story about his makeup process, featuring Freddy, he agreed. But nobody told me about it.
"We began filming every morning at 8 a.m. Leonard reported to makeup at about 6:30, but I got there about forty-five minutes later. One morning I came to work and found the photographer in the makeup room snapping away. I didn't like that at all; I was concerned all of my little makeup secrets were going to be revealed. And no, I can't tell you what they are. That's why they are secrets. So I asked someone, justifiably, I thought, 'What's the photographer doing in the makeup room?' (emphasis ours)
"The photographer quietly left the room. Leonard and Freddy waited for him to return but he never came back. Eventually Leonard was told that at my insistence an assistant director had forced the photographer to leave. Leonard was furious. He immediately came to my trailer to confront me. 'Did you order the photographer out?' he demanded.
'Yes,' I admitted, explaining, 'I didn't want him there.'"
Now what were those secrets? It it very likely that Bill Shatner is referring to the fact that he would come into work bald, sit down next to Leonard Nimoy in the makeup room, and then have his hairpiece applied. He understandably didn't want those secrets (Captain Kirk is bald!) appearing in some magazine.
If we do the simple maths: Bill Shatner arrived at makeup a full forty-five minutes before he was due on set and forty-five minutes after Nimoy arrived to have his latex ears arduously applied. If he just had basic makeup applied, then he could have come in later. But during that forty-five minutes, the intricate process of laying on the rug was also undertaken.
In the book Inside Star Trek: The Real Story Desilu head of production Herb Solow recalls the same incident:
"Jimmy Doohan was there too. He recalls that 'Bill's hairpiece was being applied. The top of his head was a lot of skin and a few little odd tufts of hair. The mirrors in the makeup room walls were arranged so that we could all see the laying on of his rug.'" (page 236)
So in summary: Again we see that Bill Shatner is slowly thawing from the days of outright toup denial - instead peppering his recollections with inferences, albeit still oblique ones, to his hairpiece. Perhaps he had read Herb Solow's account of the Nimoy incident and didn't want to lie about or ignore the toupee factor.
Who knows, maybe in a few years he will openly discuss his baldness in an interview without the subject hitting Shatner's raw nerve.
By the way, we haven't read any of the biographies by the "gang of four" (Doohan, Takei, Koenig and Nichols). If anyone out there has and spots a toup reference, please let us know.
"...Mel Balarino, MGM's casting director...looked Shatner over. What he saw was a splendid young bobcat of a male, with a close cap of cinnamon hair, tufted eyebrows and white teeth bared in a grin of undisciplined charm...[Gloria Rand and William Shatner] had both begun watching their diets again: steak, fresh fruit, yogurt. While others in their apartment block lounged by the pool with gin drinks and suntan oil, Shatner would withdraw into a corner and skip an imaginary rope. Then he'd dive into the pool and later, when he'd straightarmed himself out, would report to Gloria, 'Fifteen lengths that time. Best exercise there is.' He had already ordered a toupee to camouflage a thinning spot in the cinnamon hair." (Emphasis ours. The money for this purchase would likely have come from his salary from the movie The Brothers Karamazov which was filmed in 1957.)
Thanks to a reader for alerting us to this! We sincerely appreciate the detective work of all you Shatner toupologists out there!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The short and simple answer is sometime between 1957 and 1958. From that point onwards, he would never again choose to be photographed professionally without wearing a hairpiece. The decision may initially have been only for television and film work rather than theatrical productions - but that distinction didn't last long...
Above we have two photographs of a still toupless Shatner in December 1957, performing in a TV show called Studio One - No Deadly Medicine.
Perhaps the last time he was ever photographed acting without a toupee was during the long theatrical run of The World of Suzie Wong (see above and also here).
That same year, the toup (albeit a rather shabby-looking one) made an appearance in a TV show called Playhouse 90 - A Town Has Turned to Dust (see above). We also have a photograph from a year earlier (see below) from Studio One - The Defender (1957) in which Bill Shatner appears to be already wearing a hairpiece. Was this the first ever first toup appearance? The point here is that it likely wasn't entirely black & white - during the crossover period, Shats may have worn a toup in one show and still relied on sprays and combing techniques in another.
And of course, we also saw Shats in the movie The Brothers Karamazov (released in 1958, but filmed in 1957) - although his toup in that film is perhaps better described as a stage wig.
After 1958, the toup never ever went away and by 1959, the classic Star Trek: TOS look was essentially born with Shatner now wearing an (expensive) front lace toup as well as a hairpiece that covered the crown (the pieces may or may not have been separate). These toups were almost certainly provided by the productions Shats was working for, rather than anything the struggling young actor could afford to buy for himself - the latter would likely not have been particularly suitable for filming.
However, Bill Shatner was doing a lot of very low budget TV at this time, so perhaps with the money he had made from The Brothers Karamazov he also decided to fork out for his own personal toup in case the budget of a particular production could not cover this expense - Shats may have also felt that it helped his chances at auditions. Star Trek (which was a considerably higher budget TV production) producer Bob Justman later noted that Shatner's "Own 'personal' ones were too ratty-looking [to be used in front of the cameras]." (see here).
Some screengrabs from a 1957 episode of Alfred Hitchcok Presents called "The Glass Eye". We would venture to say that Bill Shatner is still toupless here. The front hairline is evidently receding, but the real key is what is happening at the back. Whereas the rear toup that he soon started to wear smoothed over the crown in a rather singular fashion, here we don't see that effect yet at all. Instead, it appears that Shats has grown his front hair a little longer and is combing it back over the area of thinning.
A year later, (see previous post), the rear thinning became too prominent to conceal.
This is the first ever photo we've been able to locate of a toupless Shats in which we see signs of baldness in the crown area (sourced from the often factually innacurate E! True Hollywood William Shatner documentary). The picture is of a 1958 production of The World of Suzie Wong in New York. Bill was just 27 years-old at the time.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
"I don’t wear a hairpiece." - William Shatner, 1994, (source here).
There is a mountain of conclusive evidence that William Shatner has worn a variety of hairpieces throughout his career. Unlike with our previous ruling on a more recent statement that gave Bill Shatner the benefit of the doubt because of a clever use of the word "it", here we find nowhere near enough wriggle room with the word "don't". The evidence of toupee wearing is so overwhelming and has, we believe, been conclusively demonstrated at this website, that this statement can only be described as ridiculous. We therefore have no choice but to give it our lowest Shat-no-meter rating - "Pants on Fire".