Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Remembering DeForest Kelley

On June 11, 1999 the world lost a great actor when DeForest Kelley passed away. He was 79 years old.

If you don't know who DeForest Kelley is, you must have come across this site by accident! Of course he was the third side of the triangle in Star Trek (The Original Series):  Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy of the Starship Enterprise. He was the overly-emotional one who balanced out the overly-logical Mr. Spock (portrayed by Leonard Nimoy) in numerous discussions with Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner).

As a kid Mr. Spock was my favorite. He was an alien, which was cool. He wasn't Captain Kirk, who seemed like a jerk even then. As I got older, however, I suddenly found myself gravitating towards McCoy. He was the emotional one, but he was also a professional. He had a sense of humor, but he was not a fool. He ended up represented all the other officers and staff on the starship when there wasn't a budget to show thousands of others (let alone the seven or so semi-regular co-stars who kept getting little to do in the scripts). In the series he played the down-home doctor to perfection, and the teasing that he and Mr. Spock got into only masked their genuine affection and admiration they had for each other. In the second season episode "AMOK TIME" Spock invites McCoy to the planet Vulcan as one of his companions. From that moment, even when they were arguing hysterically, you knew they still liked each other. In the movie THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK it is McCoy who literally saves Spock's life.  
But all of this is about Dr. McCoy; I want to talk about DeForest Kelley. McCoy was brought to life by DeForest Kelley. He was one of the last actors chosen for the series, and during the first season was a contracted Co-Star. Yet, Kelly's excellence at playing off of Nimoy and Shatner, and of bringing the scripts to life, pushed McCoy into the lead and allowed him to become an iconic TV figure.

From everything I have read about Star Trek (TOS), it sounds like Kelley was a fun-loving man and a joy to work with. For example, after Nimoy directed THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK Shatner insisted on directing THE FINAL FRONTIER. When asked if he, too, wanted to direct, Kelley was heard to say something akin to, "Direct? Nah, somebody has to hold the acting standards up." He attended numerous conventions and seemed genuinely involved with his fans. I am sorry I never got to meet him.

Rest In Peace, DeForest Kelley   

1 comment:

  1. This is so touching. McCoy was/ is my favourite of the trio and I am so happy that you took the trouble to remember DeForest Kelly on his death anniversary. So often people only talk about Kirk and Spock and forget that without Bones there can be no Star Trek. He was the heart of the show. Thanks for posting this.