To Baldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before: Star Trek’s Patrick Stewart and Male Pattern Baldness
“Make it so.”
Anyone familiar with iconic television series, “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” will immediately recognize that line as the classic episode-ending command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, the dashing and intrepid chief of the Starship Enterprise, played by British actor Patrick Stewart.
When not saving entire galaxies from certain doom, the Star Trek leading man has gone on award-winning runs on the English stage and taken on the role of Professor X, the venerable leader of Marvel Comics’ “The X-Men,” in a string of successful movies. Stewart’s trademark bald head is recognized and revered the world over, making him quite possibly the most famous bald actor on the planet.
Things didn’t always look so rosy for Stewart, and after losing his hair at 19, he had quite a bleak outlook on the rest of his life.
Nineteen and No Hair
While still a young, 19-year-old aspiring actor and sometime journalist, Stewart began losing his hair to male pattern baldness. The entire process happened over just one year, and by the end of it, all he had left was a sparse combover.
According to the actor, the traumatic experience left him shaken, believing “everything was over.” Stewart wasn’t just referring to his budding acting career, but to his future prospects with the fairer sex. Although his worst nightmares never materialized — he’s been married three times and been named a TV Guide “Most Bodacious” leading man — he initially felt “inhibited” by his baldness.
Star Trek and Hollywood Stardom
For years, Stewart was so self-conscious about his hair loss he would walk hunched over, afraid to show the face beneath the combover. He didn’t wear a wig for social calls, but he donned one for every audition he attended.
One fateful day, after sharing a meal with an acting friend, Stewart found himself pinned to his seat while his friend’s wife took a pair of scissors to his last snippet of hair.
His friend’s message? “Now you be yourself. No more hiding.”
The message stuck, and several years later, Stewart landed a starring role on Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s flagship series, proudly sporting the smooth dome that blazed a trail for one more bald starship captain — Avery Brooks’ Benjamin Sisko on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
At the show’s first press conference, Roddenberry stood up for the choice to cast Stewart with words that will resonate for many years to come. Asked by a reporter why male pattern baldness wasn’t yet cured in his vision of the distant future, Roddenberry coolly remarked, “By the 24th century, no one will care.”
Phot Credit: David Shankbone via Flickr Creative Commons