Could 2012 turn out to be the year of the Toupee Spring? A recent interview with Roger Perry, who played Captain Christopher in the first season Star Trek episode "Tomorrow is Yesterday" suggests that it may well be.
First, what exactly do we mean by Toupee Spring? The "Spring" that has been dominating headlines since last year is obviously the Arab Spring. One of the interesting and pertinent dynamics in those events is seeing the fall of a firmly established, yet rather warped, set of prejudices and black-and-white assumptions. The desperate and deluded dictatorial regimes have tried their best to suggest that you're either with them or you are with potential terrorists, rats, drug-dealing gangs, foreign agents etc.
Similarly, what we may be witnessing in 2012 is a significant weakening of the "Takei effect" - meaning that numerous figures who have crucial knowledge of the toupee and have yet to add this to the official record are beginning to no longer fear that discussion of the toupee equates to hating Bill Shatner or wanting to publically hurt or belittle him, as many believe George Takei did at the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner (assuming the mantle from Trek co-star James Doohan: "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").
In this post-Toupee Spring world, to want to talk about the toupee does not automatically make you a George Takei-like Bill Shatner hater with "a scary glint" in your eyes.
Of course, several figures have in the past already discussed their first-hand experiences with Bill Shatner's toupee in a factual, non-Takei-like manner, for example Star Trek guest star William Campbell. While others have sought to create a friendly climate in which the toupee can openly and even comedically be referenced. But somehow these efforts were always, and rather unfortunately, overshadowed by those who sought to use a warped version of toupology to pursue an extremist agenda, for example attempting an ambush on Bill Shatner. Those events would invariably be the ones making headlines, and, as a result, other figures with crucial knowledge of the toupee would choose silence out of a fear of also being labelled as toupological extremists.
Thus, the Perry comments perhaps represent a significant evolution.
Roger Perry today (left).
Here's the crucial segment in the actor's recent interview with StarTrek.com:
Q: What do you remember of the ["Tomorrow is Yesterday"] shoot? Any great anecdote that people may not know?
Perry: The unusual thing, but I have to say this because I remember it… The very first day going into makeup I was in the makeup room and (William) Shatner was a couple of chairs down. I remember looking over and I was very shocked because they were putting his toupee on. I said, “Wait a minute. He’s a young man.” At that time he was very young and I thought, “Well, that’s interesting.” I didn’t know at that time whether they were doing it because of the character. Then I heard later on that he’d been wearing a toupee for a long, long time.
Painting glue over the lace line (more here).
It's a common gripe at journalism that interviewers frequently fail to ask decent follow-up questions of their subjects, and here too, sadly, the subject switches to something new with the next question (perhaps the old fears were present in the interviewer). What was the toupee like? What about the details of the application process? How did Bill Shatner act during the application? Was he a different person with the toupee on than off? What did he look like without it? So many important questions left unanswered...
Nonetheless, the fact that Roger Perry volunteered to tell this anecdote without specifically being asked is a highly welcome development. If 2012 is indeed to be the year of the Toupee Spring, then this interview may be remembered as a watershed moment.
Are there images of a toup-less Bill Shatner locked in a vault somewhere?
Our thanks to several of you for emailing us the tip!