762 posts into this blog’s history, and this is the first time I’ve ever written about somebody’s hair…
Many people have been a bit perplexed at the hair Tommy Lee Jones is sporting for his role as Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln, citing it as an ugly and obvious wig, and with the comments I have been reading about it, you would think that it is so bad it would detract away from his performance, which of course, we have yet to see in great detail due to him only having a few snippets of screen-time in the trailers. Anyway, yes, the cat is out of the bag: the Jones wig is simply awful. In fact, even on set, according to a source, it was jokingly referred to as “the ShamWow”. Now, before I start to sound like just another person going off on a tirade about an insignificant detail in the long run of things, why don’t we do a little research into the real Thaddeus Stevens, as maybe, just maybe, this heavily researched, $50 million epic directed by one of cinema’s greatest, might actually have a reason for giving Jones such a terrible mop. Well, it just so happens that the real Stevens wore a wig because he suffered Alopecia, a condition that caused him to go bald at a young age (gee, and all this time I thought he just had an aversion to combs). The wig he wore was noted to be “ill-fitting” and is actually the catalyst for what I think is one of the funniest smaller moments in history.
Back in the 1800’s, if a woman admired a man, especially a famous one, she might ask him for a lock of hair, so that she could keep it to remember him. As it turns out, Stevens was the recipient of such a request, apparently by a woman who did not realize it was a wig. When she asked him for a lock of his hair, Stevens is reported to have taken off his wig, handed it to her, and said, “Here, madam, you may have it all.” The Thaddeus Stevens Society has this cartoon depiction of the event for us to view:
If you take a look at a picture of Stevens, he appears to be completely bereft of personality, even more serious looking than Abraham Lincoln. But alas, like the president, he too had a sense of humor and appears to be the victim of what I call the “Dusty Old Photograph Syndrome”. The same website linked above offers a collection of humorous stories and observations regarding the Republican leader, including this delicious little quote regarding John Brown’s hanging before the war: “John Brown deserves to be hung for being a hopeless fool. He attempted to capture Virginia with seventeen men where he ought to know that it would require at least twenty-five.” There is no telling if either his humor, or Lincoln’s, will be in the final print of the film, but it sure would be a nice addition (as would a scene of Stevens putting on his wig, perhaps at his house, before leaving for work, just to let the audience know its supposed to be a wig). Who knows, if these two never got into politics, perhaps they could have toured the country as the Lincoln & Stevens Comedy Troupe.