It is a distinct pleasure for this site to present the following set of high resolution photos that document the design and construction details of a truly extraordinary piece of Star Trek history: a William Shatner screen worn Captain Kirk tunic used in the production of Star Trek: The Original Series. With its early 1st season style braid, this costume might be the earliest and most desirable Captain Kirk tunic still in existence. It is one of the hallmark creations of TOS Costume Designer William Ware Theiss and likely saw service in many Original Series episodes. After the initial display of modern day images, some analysis supporting the authenticity of the costume is presented.
It is to be noted that the reader may click on any image below to view an enlarged version; as is the case with all of the photos posted on this site.
Concerning authenticity, there is considerable evidence to support the conclusion that this is not only an authentic TOS 1st season command tunic but also a rare William Shatner Captain Kirk costume.
1. Velour - the texture and construction of the velour fabric in this tunic; both on its front and reverse surfaces, is consistent with that used to create the 1st and 2nd season TOS starfleet uniforms. Below is a direct comparison with a 2nd season blue velour sciences dress (sold by Profiles in History, Auction 37, October 2009). In addition to the matching textures and thread weaves, note the slight "sparkle" effect visible on the front surface of the fabric that is frequently seen when these costumes are photographed at close range with a flash in use.
Below is another direct comparison of this tunics fabric with a different 1st season gold velour TOS command tunic, where matching texture is again observed.
Below is a composite image illustrating the distinct sparkle effect of the TOS velour fabric visible on a different Shatner tunic (a 2nd season Kirk tunic sold by Profiles In History in Auction 17, Dec. 2003) as well as on a Cage Science Officer tunic (sold by Profiles In History in Auction 47, Dec. 2011).
2. Collar -
i. The black collar fabric used on this tunic is consistent with that found on other early TOS velour starfleet uniforms. Note the identical "ribbed" knit fabric construction visible in the comparison below with the 2nd season TOS sciences dress. (Third season TOS costumes featured a distinctly different "spring weave" collar fabric.)
ii. The width and contours of the collar on this tunic are also consistent with those tailored for use by William Shatner on his early first season tunics. Each of the lead actors on TOS had subtle differences in their early collar designs. Those worn by Shatner were low riding with a more rounded contour on the front, while the early Nimoy collar rose high to cover his oversize Adam's apple. The image below favorably compares the collar on this tunic with a Shatner screenshot from "Shore Leave".
Below are some photos that clearly demonstrate the differences between early Kirk and Spock collar designs.
3. Command Patch - this costume bears the smaller style command insignia patch seen in the first two seasons of TOS on the velour uniforms, composed of gold mylar material. Below is a direct comparison with a screen capture from "Who Mourns for Adonais":
Below is another favorable comparison with an authentic early TOS command patch that was attached to a Phase II fabric tunic for display in the Star Trek: The Exhibition touring collection. Note in particular the matching contours of the elongated topmost arm of the 5 point star on both patches; typically straight on the left side, with a curved bulge outwards on the lower right side, and not touching the top black border as is commonly seen in the larger 3rd season TOS patches. Here, the lower right arm of the star touches the border thread on both patches.
The overall dimensions of the patch on this tunic are a match with those published previously on this site for 1st and 2nd season TOS patches. Specifically, the following photo presents a view of all Original Series patch dimensions from the pilot episode onwards. The Cage patch size is clearly the smallest of all at 2.25" tall versus the approx. 2.75" high 1st/2nd season patch and approx. 3.25" tall 3rd season patch. The width of all patches is constant at approx. 2".
4. Patch attachment to tunic - the "zig zag" sewing pattern seen to attach the command patch to the fabric on this tunic is consistent with the pattern observed on other authentic TOS starfleet uniforms. Below is a direct comparison with a 3rd season command tunic.
5. Braid (Materials & attachment): i. The braid present on this tunic is also consistent with the design, composition materials and appearance of the braid seen on the Captains tunics in the earliest 1st season episodes of TOS. In particular, the use of gold, dark brown, and tan thread to create the braid design on thin gold mylar, as observed on this tunic, can also be observed in the onscreen braid from "The Enemy Within" in the comparison photo below:
ii. Also to be noted above in both the photo of this tunic and the episode screenshot is the consistent sewing attachment technique which features the use of yellow thread that spans the gaps between adjacent pieces of rectangular braid in the middle row of Captain's braid.
6. Zipper hardware - this costume features a hidden zipper assembly with metal teeth bearing the brand name "UNIQUE" and the word "JAPAN" present on the metal slider, which is identical to the zipper hardware observed on all three seasons of screen used TOS starfleet tunics and dresses. Below is a direct comparison photo matching the zipper appearance on this tunic to that on several other screen used TOS costumes:
And the photo below from the 1st season episode "Miri" provides on screen confirmation of the use of zipper "tapes" (the side support fabric strips) bearing metal teeth on TOS starfleet tunics.
7. Cloth pull -
i. This tunic features a black cloth pull for the zipper that is not a frequently encountered feature on screen used TOS starfleet tunics. However, it has been observed on occasion in the past. The photo below shows the construction details on this costume, and confirms the presence of a similar cloth pull on a 3rd season Spock tunic (sold by Profiles In History, Auction 14, April 2003):
ii. Below are some screenshots of William Shatner in costume where it is evident that he is wearing a costume also outfitted with a black cloth pull:
8. Three hook and eye closures - this costume features a total of three hook and eye closures to secure the black neck collar. This large a number of closures is not typically seen on regular TOS tunics (frequently just a single closure; occasionally a pair of them); so it is possible that the presence of three might be some minor indicator of costumes that were created for a Kirk or a starring role character. The closures on this tunic are shown below along with a screenshot of William Shatner from the early 1st season episode "Mudd's Women" in which it is evident by the visible metal surfaces that his velour tunic has also been outfitted with three hook and eye closures:
9. Captain Kirk Braid screen match to 1st Season "This Side of Paradise"
As seen in the comparison photo below, the exact braid construction found on the right cuff of this tunic precisely matches that visible in the screen capture from the 1st season TOS episode "This Side of Paradise"; where a close up view of Kirk's hand operating the transporter controls is the focus of the screenshot. There are literally dozens and dozens of matching characteristics that may be discerned upon close examination of the images - including contours of the gold mylar all along the outside bands of braid, contours on the individual pieces of braid forming the middle band, relative spacing between pieces of braid and main features/contours on braid, prominent thread line locations and thread paths, areas of prominent colored thread and even some soiling / spotting on the velour fabric itself. By any reasonable analysis, this screen match alone with all of its successful points of comparison should be considered sufficient to confirm the use of this tunic on screen as a 1st season Captain Kirk.
10. Double gussets - This tunic features a double gusset design; or the presence of three seam lines running from the armpit area down the torso on each side of the costume - a design characteristic that is considered by knowledgeable Star Trek experts to be only present on those TOS command tunics specifically tailored for wear by William Shatner. The double gussets on this tunic, as well as two photos in which this unique construction detail is visible on William Shatner in costume, is shown below.
11. Evidence of significant costume use and manual repairs on the soundstage -
As seen in the images below, this costume bears evidence of not only machine sewn construction but also hand sewn work. While the machined elements are reflective of the initial fabrication of the tunic, the hand sewn portions speak to the subsequent repairs and adjustments made "on the fly" - sometimes while the actor was still wearing the garment on the soundstage - and their presence is entirely consistent with screen used TOS costumes.
As a side note, as was the practice on the Desilu soundstage, when a "hero" tunic such as this became sufficiently distressed or well worn to merit its replacement, it would likely be relegated for use by stunt actors or redressed for background use. This practice was certainly known to take place during the production of TOS, where budgetary constraints were famously much more pressing than on later series in the franchise; though the practice of relegating well worn costumes from leading actors to stuntmen has also been confirmed on the most recent Trek series such as Star Trek: Enterprise. Behind the scenes books such as Justman and Solows "Inside Star Trek: The Real Story" and Roddenberry and Whitfields "The Making of Star Trek" famously recount the "dumpster-diving" exploits of Jefferies, Justman, Dwyer, Theiss et al to secure discarded styrofoam office equipment packing inserts for use to spray paint as TOS Engine Room brightly colored wall mounted devices, or cannibalize screen used Eminiar weapons for parts to produce new Klingon disruptors, or employ inexpensive orange shower curtain material to fabricate the biohazard suits seen in "The Naked Time". Thus it is quite likely that this costume was worn by another actor over the course of its useful life on the Desilu soundstage. But it would not be likely at all that a gusseted "hero" Captain Kirk tunic would be fabricated solely for stunt use and was not worn by William Shatner.
12. Overall size - The overall size of this tunic has been found to match that of a Shatner-worn Kirk costume from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
13. Proof of William Shatner hand in close up screenshot operating transporter -
It is possible to establish that the hand seen in the close up screen capture from "This Side of Paradise" - the hand belonging to the actor who was wearing this Captain Kirk tunic - was the hand of William Shatner beyond any doubt. It seems that Mr. Shatner suffered an apparent forearm and back of hand burn injury at the time that this episode was being filmed; as is evident in the following set of three screen captures.
Note the number of red marks / signs of injury to the back of the hand of the actor who was operating the transporter controls ...
These same back of hand red marks /signs of injury are visible in the close up screen shot below of an actor's hand reaching to open the safe in Kirk's quarters - just moments before the transporter scene took place in the timeline of the episode. So the same actor who was filmed in this close up reaching for the safe was also filmed operating the transporter in the above image. Note that signs of a burn injury to the forearm protruding from the tunic are also visible in the screen capture below.
This last screen capture offers a full view of William Shatner admiring an award just removed from the safe. The braid on his tunic seen below identically matches the pattern seen in the photo above and the apparent burn injury on his forearm is also visible in the following image. Thus, William Shatner was the actor reaching for the safe in the above photo, and must also therefore be the actor operating the transporter controls in the first photo wearing the Captain Kirk tunic that is the focus of this analysis .
Note: By clicking on any of the above three screen captures, the reader may view a greatly enlarged version of the photo and see the details of the burn injury in much greater clarity.
The composite image below provides an additional set of information that, even when considered by itself without regard to the earlier burn injury photos, may be deemed sufficient to successfully identify the hand on the transporter console as that of William Shatner. The distinct appearance of the actor's right hand, especially the thumb, is quite recognizable in both of the following views.
14. Additional use of William Shatner for close up hand photography in TOS -
To complement the earlier photo evidence that established William Shatner was used for close up hand photography in "This Side of Paradise" (both using the transporter console and reaching for the safe), the photo below presents another instance; this time from the 1st season episode "Tomorrow Is Yesterday". In more recent Star Trek television series such as Star Trek: TNG, stunt actors were frequently used for these types of close up shots. In TOS, it is shown that William Shatner himself was frequently used for this purpose.
15. Captain Kirk Braid screen match to 1st season "Shore Leave"
As the following screen captures illustrate, there are two different scenes in the memorable first season episode "Shore Leave", where the unique Captain's Braid pattern on this tunic can be precisely screen matched to the braid pattern visible on a tunic worn by William Shatner - this time on the left cuff as opposed to the right cuff that was screen matched in "This Side of Paradise". Again, the reader is encouraged to click on any of the following images to study enlarged versions with greater clarity.
16. Captain Kirk Patch screen match to 1st season "Shore Leave"
Both sides of TOS Starfleet patches typically appear convex (slightly curved, bulging outwards) as seen on screen used tunics and dresses. The patch on this tunic was sewn on in such a manner that the bottom right vertex was pulled slightly to the right, giving a much straighter than usual appearance to that side. Typical patch appearance is shown in the image presented immediately below. The composite photo after that demonstrates the patch screen match found in one of the same scenes of "Shore Leave" where an earlier left cuff braid match was documented.
Special thanks to Alec Peters, Roger Romage and James Cawley for their valuable contributions to the analysis of this costume. The modern day photos of this tunic were taken in April, 2011 and are presented courtesy of Alec Peters.
Finally, below is a very special personal photo from my collection that I had the great pleasure of taking in my home showing this historic William Shatner tunic draped over my replica TOS Captains Chair: