Recently, reader "Toup-Eh?" posted a tip related to an autobiographical book that former Star Trek "Wolf in the Wold" guest star Tanya Lemani had written called Have Belly, Will Travel. The tip noted that the Bill Shatner fansite "Look at His Butt!" (Shatner's toupee, Shatner's butt - aren't there any normal Bill Shatner websites out there!?!) had previously looked into this book and found an interesting story about Bill Shatner's toupee. We contacted the young ladies at LAHB and they very kindly sent us a scan of the relevant page from the book for purposes of verification.
Lemani relates the story of a tryst she claims to have had with Bill Shatner around the time of her guest appearance on Star Trek:
"Bill called me and invited me to dinner a few days later. I wanted to impress him so I had pulled my hair up to give myself a different look from the exotic Belly dancer and got all dressed up. I was anxious to go out as it was my night off from Greek Village. The door bell rang and I rushed to the door. I was expecting Bill but I saw a balding man who I had never seen before. He pushed the door open and took me into his arms.
'Tanya, it's so good to see you. I rushed here as soon as they took my make up off.' It was Bill's voice but he had no hair on top. Looking at my expression he must have realized that I didn't know that he was balding and was wearing a hair piece. He started giggling with his little boy laugh.
'You've never seen me like this?' He pointed to his head. I was stunned and just shook my head. 'I get tired of wearing this all day long.' He said and I saw that he was somewhat uncomfortable.
Our artist's impression of a toup-less Bill Shatner
'Oh, this looks fine but...well...I just don't know.' I tried to make light of it.
'Does it bother you?' He went on.
'No, it's different, that's all.' To make him feel better I pulled him by his hand to the living room.
'Would you like some wine?' I went toward my fridge and took out a cold bottle.
'Sure, yes, that's sound [sic] good.' While I was getting the glasses and the wine together, Bill lit a joint.
'Here, would you like a hit?' He handed me the joint. At that point I thought I needed it just to break the tense moment and to relax. I took a puff."
Later, after Lemani recounts the pair's love-making, the subject again returns to hair as the couple prepare to go out for a meal:
" 'Go? How like this?' I pointed to my hair and my make up which looked like a hurricane hit it.
'Well, comb your hair and let's go...' "
Click on the below image for a scan of the above page:
Firsthand accounts of Bill Shatner without his toupee are very rare and have largely come from disgruntled Star Trek cast and crew-members. For example, in producer Bob Justman's book Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, actor James Doohan (a man almost consumed with often irrational contempt for Bill Shatner - interestingly Lemani's Trek character was supposed to be a Scotty love interest! ) is quoted describing his co-star as having "little odd tufts of hair". Justman too, perhaps angry at apparent inaccuracies in Bill Shatner's Star Trek Memories, also mentions the toupee a couple of times, including an alleged act of toup theft by the actor. Then there is Star Trek guest star Yvonne Craig, who really didn't get on with Shats at all; she also mentioned a toupee incident in her book.
Converesly, along with a story told by Trek guest star William Campbell, Lemani's description is a rare example of a Bill Shatner toupee/baldness story not colored or motivated by negative emotions. In that sense, one can view it as being potentially more accurate - although a profit motive (wanting to get your book sold by mentioning Shatner toupee stories) could also theoretically color or influence actual recollections.
Nonetheless, the portrait that is painted by the author is in line with a picture that we've observed in which Bill Shatner started out being pretty easygoing (still no bald photos, though) about his toupee escapades, before dramatically shifting (no doubt motivated by a disintegrating marriage and career) towards a far more fundamentalist denialist approach by Star Trek's third season - one that has only eased up again in recent years.
Perhaps the most interesting line in Lemani's account is Bill Shatner saying "Does it bother you?" about his baldness. The implication being that if it does, he might be willing to run out and quickly paste his toup back on for her. "You've never seen me like this?" indicates a very carefree approach (or at least the affectation of one) to the toupee, as does the suggestion that the pair might dine together in public with the actor potentially risking his image, not to mention his marriage by going out toup-less (or in a hat?) with another woman. That part, we have to say, seems a little odd and out of character, but then the paparazzi of that time was nothing like today's...
UPDATE: Reader "MVPisOnline" wonders if we're being fair describing James Doohan as "a man almost consumed with often irrational contempt for Bill Shatner." While we're not seeking to lessen Bill Shatner's famous insensitivity and ego-maniacal, self-centered conduct, we found a couple of Doohan quotes (sourced in this book) that we think underline the point:
"There really is one person on the show that nobody can stand...[Shatner] can't even act. He doesn't act. He makes faces. He'll wrinkle his nose like a rabbit and that's supposed to mean 'Oh look, I'm about to cry'."
A fair critique or a petty expression of deep bitterness?
Doohan also blamed Bill Shatner for a scene that involved his nephew being cut from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. "Was it the studio or was it Bill Shatner?" he asked. The scene in question can be seen in an extended cut of the film and we understand why it was cut - likely by the director or producers. In our view, blaming Bill Shatner for this seems irrational. Truth is, extended sequences focusing on the emotions of the supporting characters could very easily have been seen as slowing down the pace of a given Trek movie.
We should also add that fortunately, the two actors did at least partially repair their relationship before James Doohan's death in 2005.