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Sins of the toupee: Older actors and their hair pieces

Movie Still
Movie Still
Walt Disney Studios

It’s a touchy subject no doubt. Who does not want the flowing locks of their youth? However some very well-known actors need to have a “Come to Jesus” discussion about their hair.

Dear Kevin Costner, John Travolta and Robert Redford it is time to, in the words of a popular Disney princess, to “Let it go!” Sirs, are you feeling comfortable? Can I get you some coffee? Maybe tea? Even though we all have respect for you in regards to your skills as filmmakers in front and behind a camera, it is time for you to know that we know. That thing you are wearing on top of your head is not your hair. Much like Elvis, your hair has left the building.

Kevin Costner’s hair isn’t all that bad. In his daily life he might or might not wear a hair piece, but in his latest sports themed film he is sporting blonde hair. I do not know whose decision it was to turn an actor, who to the best of my knowledge has never played a blonde headed character, into a Malibu Ken; but someone did. Draft Day is a decent film with its share of foibles that should have been ironed out before the cameras rolled, one of which is the moment Costner walked on set with blonde hair. Someone in authority should have nixed it immediately. Listen if Costner’s character was based on an actual person who was blonde I would let this go, but he is playing a fictional character – a man who by casting Costner must be near Costner’s age which is 59. Further vexing is that Costner actually looks good as a man with brown to grey hair even if said hair may have some help every now and again with hair pieces.

* SPOILER ALERT * one of the big reveals in Draft Day is that Costner’s character finds out he is going to be a first time father. Perhaps to make the idea that a man approaching sixty is about to be a daddy the producers blonded him up in hopes that the audiences forgets that the character is not played by a man in his thirties or forties. Yet the result is that I can accept a man becoming a father for the first time at sixty a lot more than a man running around the headquarters of a major football franchise with yellow boyish hair.

John Travolta was first introduced to American audiences on Welcome Back Kotter. He was the young Adonis with full flowing hair. That lush mane that sent teen hearts a-twitter during the Saturday Night Fever era has aged only slightly if recent pictures of Travolta are to be believed. His hair; a plume just barely plucked. Sadly for Travolta we are living in the high definition TV age and that means every mis-glued hair piece might as well be on a billboard in Times Square. When I see Travolta with a velcro strip on his head (a criminal coif if there ever was one) I wish he would choose to go the Bruce Willis way of aging actors. To his credit Willis embraced his baldness. Travolta has gone bald for roles before and he looked fine.

The biggest transgressor of hair folly is a classic Hollywood icon, a man who fights for what he believes in, a man who is respected all across our land. I’m about talking Robert Redford. I get it that he first experienced success because of his talent and ideal American looks. At one point he was such a heart throb he had the best dessert in the world named after him (Better than Robert Redford Cake) but at 77 it is time to retire the blonde bumpit.

Redford has noted in interviews he has not been offered acting parts he knows he could play. Maybe it has less to do with his age and more to do with his hair. As an iconic actor he might feel he cannot give up certain traits with which he is most identified, yet it could be argued that is the thing holding him back from the type of roles actors like Tommy Lee Jones do with ease. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier Redford’s hair was an issue. It seemed too unnaturally reddish blonde especially since his sideburns are obviously grey. With that said he doesn’t have to go all totally grey, a lot of men have his age still have some original hair coloring but he needs to cool it with total Clairol wash and leave in treatment. He is at the elder statesman era of his career, but his hair sometimes serves him ill and he looks like a character actor playing the crazy uncle who is always drunk role. It is not a good look.

Speaking for America, we don’t need our male titans of entertainment to look as they did when they first broke onto the silver screen. Like actresses who are obviously botoxed to the point they are unable to move an eye, dying a man’s hair to an unnatural shade of by-gone youth fools no one and at a point it becomes counterproductive. Embrace the gray and love the bald!

Happy viewing!

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