In Star Trek, characters generally have pointy sideburns.

Scotty and Spock with their pointy sideburns

Clearly a production decision was made in the 60s. What's the history of this?

(Related question: Is there any in-universe explanation or reference to why pointy sideburns persisted for so long?)

4 Answers 4


There is a section on this in "The Making of Star Trek", by Stephen E. Whitfield.

According to the story, the producers (that was basically Gene Roddenberry) wanted 'futuristic' hairstyles. However the actors pointed out that they had to live in the real world, and weren't going to spend their off days looking like freaks from the future. The pointed sideburn was the compromise.

There isn't a record of exactly who came up with the idea. Presumably some combination of Roddenberry and the hair department. The story doesn't contradict that either a) the sideburns were originally intended for Spock only b) that some combination of Leonard Nimoy and Richard Hernandez came up with them.

  • 36
    "What do you do for a living?" "I work in the Star Trek hair department"
    – IMSoP
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 16:53
  • It's possible that the first volume of These Were the Voyages has this info. Alas it is poorly indexed for this sort of thing. Perhaps someone with the Kindle edition can do a text search. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 20:25
  • 2
    @JamieHanrahan Malachi Throne makes mention of the funny sideburns and not really appreciating the haircut (page 385, in the chapter on The Menagerie), but there's no mention of where they came from, that I can find.
    – hobbs
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 1:20

In Leonard Nimoy's autobiography I am Spock, near the end of Chapter 2, Nimoy claims that he had the idea for Spock alone to have the pointy sideburns, but that they later gave them to everyone.

An interesting sidebar: I had suggested pointed sideburns as a specifically Vulcan look for Spock. Apparently Vulcans are intergalactic trendsetters, because you'll notice everybody in the Federation now sports those pointed sideburns.

This does suggest that pointed sideburns were Nimoy's idea, but this could still be in-line with Gustav Mendoza's claim that his father Richard Mendoza came up with the style for Spock, and Nimoy approved and suggested it be just for Vulcans. Or possibly they came up with the idea together.

Gustav does say that Richard came up with it for Spock, not the entire crew who later sported it, so that part is now from two sources.

  • 3
    All the stories fit together: Goodwin suggested it to Nimoy, who took it to Mendoza. Mendoza was the actual one who came up with the style based on the idea "pointy sideburns", which he heard from Nimoy. When Roddenberry wanted the futuristic hairstyles, the Goodwin/Nimoy/Mendoza concept, which already existed just for Spock, was the compromise that everyone ended up agreeing with. Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 5:50

Gustav Hernandez claims that his father, Richard Hernandez, a hairdresser for Lucile Ball (and one of the first male Hollywood hairdressers), designed the pointed sideburns for Spock.

  • 5
    While this video may well include useful information, please include a summery of it in the text of your answer.
    – Blackwood
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 3:23
  • 1
    Not sure if it's okay to make that big of an edit for someone else's answer, but I have put through an edit.
    – trlkly
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 1:29
  • 2
    It's probably worth adding to this answer the cnnection that: Desilu Productions was an American production company founded and co-owned by husband and wife Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, best known for shows such as I Love Lucy, Star Trek, and The Untouchables. Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 23:30

Laurel Goodwin, who played Yeoman Colt in ST:TOS "The Cage", said in an interview that she came up with the pointed sideburns for Nimoy — her friend and former drama coach:

The thing that took the thorn out of my paw really was Leonard, because I was so pleased for him, and I knew this was going to give him some liquidation, that he could then do what he really wanted to do. And I was very pleased with all of that. And I had come up with the pointed sideburns. And a few other things. But that, very specifically.

[Interviewer] You suggested that?

Oh, yeah. When I was in makeup, Leonard's going, "You know, I’ve got to play this non-feeling alien, and all that." I said, "Honey, trust me. When they get these ears right and they get that right, we get that look just right, you're gonna be the sex symbol of the '60s." He brushed it off because he was a serious actor. So, even though I was crushed not to be on the show, I was delighted for Leonard. And, when the show started, not being sour grapes, I took a look at it. The first moment that William Shatner walks on, I go, "He's got Leonard's pointed sideburns." That did it. I turned it off and never watched it again.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.