Jackson DeForest Kelley (January 20, 1920 – June 11, 1999), known to colleagues as "Dee", was an American actor, screenwriter, poet, and singer known for his roles in Westerns and as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy of the USS Enterprise in the television and film series Star Trek (1966–1991).
Kelley at a 1988 Star Trek convention
Jackson DeForest Kelley
January 20, 1920
|Died||June 11, 1999 (aged 79)|
Kelley was delivered by his uncle at his parents' home in Toccoa, Georgia, the son of Clora (née Casey) and Ernest David Kelley, who was a Baptist minister. Kelley was named after the pioneering electronics engineer Lee de Forest. He later named his Star Trek character's father "David" after his own father. Kelley had an older brother, Ernest Casey Kelley. Kelley was immersed in his father's mission (church) in Conyers, Georgia and told his father that failure would mean "wreck and ruin".
Before the end of his first year at Conyers, Kelley was regularly putting to use his musical talents and often sang solo in morning church services. Kelley wanted to become a doctor like his uncle, but his family could not afford to send him to medical school. He began singing on local radio shows, including an appearance on WSB AM in Atlanta. As a result of Kelley's radio work, he won an engagement with Lew Forbes and his orchestra at the Paramount Theater.
In 1934, the family left Conyers for Decatur, Georgia. He attended the Decatur Boys High School, where he played on the Decatur Bantams baseball team. Kelley also played football and other sports. Before his graduation in 1938, Kelley got a job as a drugstore car hop. He spent his weekends working in the local theaters.
During World War II, Kelley served as an enlisted man in the United States Army Air Forces from March 10, 1943 to January 28, 1946, assigned to the First Motion Picture Unit. After an extended stay in Long Beach, California, Kelley decided to pursue an acting career and relocate to Southern California permanently, living for a time with his uncle Casey. He worked as an usher in a local theater to earn enough money for the move. Kelley's mother encouraged her son in his new career goal, but his father disliked the idea. While in California, Kelley was spotted by a Paramount Pictures scout while doing a United States Navy training film.
Kelley's acting career began with the feature film Fear in the Night in 1947. The low-budget movie was a hit, bringing him to the attention of a national audience and giving Kelley reason to believe he would soon become a star. His next role, in Variety Girl, established him as a leading actor and resulted in the founding of his first fan club. Kelley did not become a leading man, however, and his wife Carolyn and he decided to move to New York City. He found work on stage and on live television, but after three years in New York, the Kelleys returned to Hollywood.
In California, he received a role in an installment of You Are There, anchored by Walter Cronkite. He played ranch owner Bob Kitteridge in the 1949 episode "Legion of Old Timers" of the television series The Lone Ranger. This led to an appearance in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral as Morgan Earp (brother to Burt Lancaster's Wyatt Earp). This role led to three movie offers, including Warlock with Henry Fonda and Anthony Quinn.
In 1957, he had a small role as a Southern officer in Raintree County, a Civil War film directed by Edward Dmytryk, alongside Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, and Lee Marvin. He also appeared in leading roles as a U.S. Navy submarine captain in the World War II set television series, The Silent Service. He appeared in season one, episode five, "The Spearfish Delivers", as Commander Dempsey and in the first episode of season two, "The Archerfish Spits Straight", as Lieutenant Commander Enright. His future Star Trek co-star Leonard Nimoy also appeared in two different episodes of the series around the same time.
Kelley appeared three times in various portrayals of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, The first was in 1955, as Ike Clanton in the television series You Are There. Two years later, in the 1957 film of that name, he played Morgan Earp. His third appearance was in a third-season Star Trek episode (broadcast originally on October 25, 1968), titled "Spectre of the Gun", this time portraying Tom McLaury.
Kelley also appeared in episodes of The Donna Reed Show, Perry Mason, Tales of Wells Fargo, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Boots and Saddles, Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater, Death Valley Days, Riverboat, The Fugitive, Lawman, Bat Masterson, Have Gun - Will Travel, The Millionaire, and Laredo. He appeared in the 1962 episode of Route 66, "1800 Days to Justice" and "The Clover Throne" as Willis. He had a small role in the movie The View from Pompey's Head.
For nine years, Kelley primarily played villains. He built up an extensive list of credits, alternating between television and motion pictures. However, he was afraid of typecasting, so he broke away from villains by starring in Where Love Has Gone and a television pilot called 333 Montgomery. The pilot was written by an ex-policeman named Gene Roddenberry, and a few years later Kelley appeared in another Roddenberry pilot, Police Story (1967), that was again not developed into a series.
Kelley also appeared in at least one radio drama, the 08/04/1957 episode of Suspense entitled "Flesh Peddler", where series producer William M. Robson introduced him as "a bright new luminary in the Hollywood firmament".
In 1956, nine years before being cast as Dr. McCoy, Kelley played a small supporting role as a medic in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit in which he utters the diagnosis "This man's dead, Captain" and "That man is dead" to Gregory Peck. Kelley appeared as Lieutenant Commander James Dempsey in two episodes of the syndicated military drama The Silent Service, based on actual stories of the submarine service of the United States Navy. In 1962, he appeared in the Bonanza episode titled "The Decision", as a doctor sentenced to hang for the murder of a journalist. The judge in this episode was portrayed by John Hoyt, who later portrayed Dr. Phillip John Boyce, one of Leonard McCoy's predecessors, on the Star Trek pilot "The Cage". In 1963, he appeared in The Virginian episode "Man of Violence" as a "drinking" cavalry doctor with Leonard Nimoy as his patient (Nimoy's character did not survive). Perhaps not coincidentally, the episode was written by John D. F. Black, who went on to become a writer-producer on Star Trek. Just before Star Trek began filming, Kelley appeared as a doctor again, in the Laredo episode "The Sound of Terror".
After refusing Roddenberry's 1964 offer to play Spock, Kelley played Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy from 1966 to 1969 in Star Trek. He reprised the character in a voice-over role in Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973–74), and the first six Star Trek motion pictures (1979 to 1991). In 1987, he also had a cameo in "Encounter at Farpoint", the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, as Admiral Leonard McCoy, Starfleet Surgeon General Emeritus. Several aspects of Kelley's background became part of McCoy's characterization, including his pronunciation of "nuclear" as "nucular".
Kelley became a good friend of Star Trek castmates William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, from their first meeting in 1964. During Trek's first season, Kelley's name was listed in the end credits along with the rest of the cast. Only Shatner and Nimoy were listed in the opening credits. As Kelley's role grew in importance during the first season, he received a pay raise to about $2,500 per episode and received third billing starting in the second season after Nimoy. Despite the show's recognition of Kelley as one of its stars, he was frustrated by the greater attention that Shatner received as its lead actor and that Nimoy received because of "Spockamania" among fans.
Shy by his own admission, Kelley was the only cast member of the original Star Trek series program never to have written or published an autobiography; the authorized biography From Sawdust to Stardust (2005) was written posthumously by Terry Lee Rioux of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Kelley regarded "The Empath" as his favorite Star Trek television episode.
After Star Trek, Kelley found himself a victim of the very typecasting he had so feared. In 1972, he was cast in the horror film Night of the Lepus. Kelley thereafter did a few television appearances and a few movies, but essentially went into de facto retirement other than playing McCoy. By 1978, he was earning up to $50,000 ($196,000 today) annually from appearances at Star Trek conventions. Like other Star Trek actors, Kelley received little of the enormous profits that the franchise generated for Paramount, until Nimoy, as executive producer, helped arrange for Kelley to be paid $1 million for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), which was his final live-action film appearance. He also appeared in the first Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "Encounter at Farpoint", in which he portrayed a 137-year-old Dr. McCoy. For his final film, Kelley provided the voice of Viking 1 in the second and third installments in the children's series The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars. Later in life, Kelley developed an interest in poetry, eventually publishing the first of two books in an unfinished series, The Big Bird's Dream and The Dream Goes On.
In a TLC interview done in the late 1990s, Kelley joked that one of his biggest fears was that the words etched on his gravestone would be "He's dead, Jim". Kelley's obituary in Newsweek magazine began: "We're not even going to try to resist: He's dead, Jim". He stated the year before his death that his legacy would be the many people McCoy had inspired to become doctors; "That's something that very few people can say they've done. I'm proud to say that I have". In 1991, Kelley received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1999, shortly before he died, he was awarded a Golden Boot Award for his contribution to the genre of Western television and movies.
Kelley died of stomach cancer on June 11, 1999, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles.
|1945||Time to Kill||Peter||Short film|
|1947||Fear in the Night||Vince Grayson|
|1947||Variety Girl||Bob Kirby|
|1947||Beyond Our Own||Bob Rogers|
|1948||Gypsy Holiday||Carl Romano||Short film|
|1949||Duke of Chicago||'Ace' Martin|
|1949||Life of St. Paul Series||Aram|
|1950||The Men||Dr. Sherman||Uncredited|
|1954||Duffy of San Quentin||Eddie Lee – Police Detective||Uncredited|
|1955||House of Bamboo||Charlie||Uncredited|
|1955||The View from Pompey's Head||Jim Foster – Hotel Clerk||Uncredited|
|1956||The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit||Medic||Uncredited|
|1956||Tension at Table Rock||Jim Breck|
|1957||Gunfight at the O.K. Corral||Morgan Earp|
|1957||Raintree County||Southern Officer|
|1958||The Law and Jake Wade||Wexler|
|1963||Gunfight at Comanche Creek||Amos Troop|
|1964||Where Love Has Gone||Sam Corwin|
|1965||Black Spurs||Sheriff Dal Nemo|
|1965||Town Tamer||Guy Tavenner|
|1965||Marriage on the Rocks||Mr. Turner|
|1965||Apache Uprising||Toby Jack Saunders|
|1972||Night of the Lepus||Elgin Clark|
|1979||Star Trek: The Motion Picture||Dr. Leonard McCoy|
|1982||Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan||Dr. Leonard McCoy|
|1984||Star Trek III: The Search for Spock||Dr. Leonard McCoy|
|1986||Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home||Dr. Leonard McCoy|
|1989||Star Trek V: The Final Frontier||Dr. Leonard McCoy|
|1991||Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country||Dr. Leonard McCoy|
|1991||Star Trek Adventure||Dr. Leonard McCoy||Short film|
|1998||The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars||Viking 1 (voice)||Direct-to-video|
|1947||Public Prosecutor||Danny Watson||Episode: "The Case of the Man Who Wasn't There"|
|1949–1953||The Lone Ranger||Doctor Barnes / Sheriff / Bob Kittredge||3 episodes|
|1950||Studio One||Bob Philo||Episode: "The Last Cruise"|
|1952||Armstrong Circle Theatre||Episode: "Breakaway"|
|1952||Your Jeweler's Showcase||Episode: "The Hand of St. Pierre"|
|1953||The Revlon Mirror Theater||Bert Dexter||Episode: "Dreams Never Lie"|
|1953||The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse||Jeff||Episode: "Frozen Escape"|
|1953–1954||Your Favorite Story||John Ainslee||3 episodes|
|1953–1954||City Detective||Hartfield / Benjamin||2 episodes|
|1953–1956||You Are There||Soldier / Al Hammill / Maj. Bremen / Ike Clanton / Lt. Col. Everton Conger||9 episodes|
|1954||Waterfront||Bob Vogelin / Lloyd Allen||2 episodes|
|1954||The Lone Wolf||Nick Kohler / Ted Hopkins||2 episodes|
|1954||Public Defender||Mr. Sanders||Episode: "The Murder Photo"|
|1954||Cavalcade of America||Episode: "A Medal for Miss Walker"|
|1954–1955||Mayor of the Town||Nash / Tracey||3 episodes|
|1954–1955||Studio 57||Alfred / Ted Lance||2 episodes|
|1955||The Loretta Young Show||Pilot||Episode: "Decision"|
|1955||The Millionaire||Dr. Michael Wells||Episode: "The Iris Millar Story"|
|1955–1956||Science Fiction Theatre||Dr. Milo Barton / Matt Brander / Captain Hall, M.D.||3 episodes|
|1955–1956||Matinee Theatre||Alan Brecker / Frank Lawson||2 episodes|
|1956||Gunsmoke||Will Bailey||Episode: "Indian Scout"|
|1956||Strange Stories||Harvey Harris||Episode: "Such a Nice Little Girl"|
|1956–1960||Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre||Swain / Logan Wheeler / Sherm Pickard / Les Porter||4 episodes|
|1957||Navy Log||Captain Smithwick / Corporal||2 episodes|
|1957||The O. Henry Playhouse||2 episodes|
|1957||The Adventures of Jim Bowie||Dr. Robert Taber||Episode: "An Eye for an Eye"|
|1957||Code 3||Deputy Don Reason||Episode: "Oil Well Incident"|
|1957||Schlitz Playhouse of Stars||Jordan Haig||Episode: "Hands of the Enemy"|
|1957||The Web||Detective Lt. Johnny Wright||Episode: "Kill and Run"|
|1957||Boots and Saddles||Merriweather||Episode: "The Marquis of Donnybrook"|
|1957–1958||The Silent Service||Lt. Comm. Enright / Ferrara / Commander Dempsey||3 episodes|
|1957–1958||M Squad||Police Sgt. Miller / Detective||3 episodes|
|1957–1958||Playhouse 90||Lambert||2 episodes|
|1957–1959||Trackdown||Tom Dooley / Ed Crow / Brock Childers / Perry Grimes||4 episodes|
|1958||Steve Canyon||Radar Major||Episode: "Operation Jettison"|
|1958||The Rough Riders||Lance||Episode: "The Nightbinders"|
|1958–1960||Alcoa Theatre||Jake Brittin / Marshal||2 episodes|
|1959||The Californians||Joe Girard||Episode: "The Painted Lady"|
|1959||26 Men||Ed Lacy||Episode: "Trail of Revenge"|
|1959||Special Agent 7||Martin||Episode: "Border Masquerade"|
|1959||Northwest Passage||David Cooper||Episode: "Death Rides the Wind"|
|1959||Wanted Dead or Alive||Ollie Tate / Sheriff Steve Pax||2 episodes|
|1959||Rawhide||Slate Prell||Episode: "Incident at Barker Springs"|
|1959||Mackenzie's Raiders||Charles Barron / El Halcon||Episode: "Son of the Hawk"|
|1959||State Trooper||Graham Jones||Episode: "The Patient Skeleton"|
|1959||The Lineup||Episode: "The Chloroform Murder Case"|
|1959||Richard Diamond, Private Detective||Kenneth Porter / Sheriff||2 episodes|
|1959||Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer||Eddie Robbins / Philip Conroy||2 episodes|
|1959||21 Beacon Street||George Manning||Episode: "The Hostage"|
|1959||Walt Disney Presents||Silas Morgan||Episode: "Elfego Baca: Mustang Man, Mustang Maid"|
|1959||Black Saddle||Sam King||Episode: "Apache Trail"|
|1960||Johnny Midnight||David Lawton||Episode: "The Inner Eye"|
|1960||Markham||Danny Standish||Episode: "Counterpoint"|
|1960||Two Faces West||Vern Cleary||Episode: "Fallen Gun"|
|1960–1961||Lawman||Bent Carr / Sam White||2 episodes|
|1960–1961||Coronado 9||Shep Harlow / Frank Briggs||2 episodes|
|1961||Riverboat||Alex Jeffords||Episode: "Listen to the Nightingale"|
|1961||Tales of Wells Fargo||Captain Cole Scofield||Episode: "Captain Scofield"|
|1961||Assignment: Underwater||Barney||Episode: "Affair in Tokyo"|
|1961||Stagecoach West||Lt. Clarke / Clay Henchard||2 episodes|
|1961||The Deputy||Farley Styles||Episode: "The Means and the End"|
|1961||Bat Masterson||Brock Martin||Episode: "No Amnesty for Death"|
|1961||Shannon||Carlyle||Episode: "The Pickup"|
|1961||Cain's Hundred||Bob Tully||Episode: "The Fixer"|
|1961||Perry Mason||Peter Thorpe||Episode: "The Case of the Unwelcome Bride"|
|1961–1962||Route 66||Bob Harcourt Jr. / H. Norbert Willis||2 episodes|
|1961–1966||Bonanza||Tully / Dr. Michael Jons / Captain Moss Johnson||4 episodes|
|1962||Have Gun – Will Travel||Deakin||Episode: "The Treasure"|
|1962–1963||Laramie||Jack / Bart Collins||2 episodes|
|1962–1966||Death Valley Days||Elliott Webster / Martin - Prisoner / Clint Rogers / Shad Cullen||4 episodes|
|1963||The Virginian||Lt. Beldon / Ben Tully||2 episodes|
|1963||The Gallant Men||Col. Davenport||Episode: "A Taste of Peace"|
|1963||The Dakotas||Martin Volet||Episode: "Reformation at Big Nose Butte"|
|1963||77 Sunset Strip||Phil Wingate||Episode: "88 Bars"|
|1964||Slattery's People||Gregg Wilson||Episode: "Question: Which One Has the Privilege?"|
|1965||The Fugitive||Charlie||Episode: "Three Cheers for Little Boy Blue"|
|1965||The Donna Reed Show||Williams||Episode: "Uncle Jeff Needs You"|
|1966||A Man Called Shenandoah||Egan||Episode: "The Riley Brand"|
|1966||Laredo||Dr. David Ingram||Episode: "Sound of Terror"|
|1966–1969||Star Trek: The Original Series||Dr. Leonard McCoy||76 episodes|
|1967||Police Story||Lab Chief Greene||Television film|
|1970||Ironside||Mr. Fowler||Episode: "Warrior's Return"|
|1970||The Silent Force||Curston||Episode: "The Judge"|
|1970||The Bold Ones: The New Doctors||Parrish||Episode: "Giants Never Kneel"|
|1971||Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law||Frank Slater||Episode: "Make No Mistake"|
|1971||Room 222||Matt Silverton||Episode: "The Sins of the Fathers"|
|1972||The Bull of the West||Ben Tully||Television film|
|1973||The ABC Afternoon Playbreak||Dr. Goldstone||Episode: "I Never Said Goodbye"|
|1973–1974||Star Trek: The Animated Series||Dr. McCoy (voice)||22 episodes|
|1974||The Cowboys||Jack Potter||Episode: "David Done It"|
|1981||The Littlest Hobo||Prof. Hal Schaffer||Episode: "Runaway"|
|1987||Star Trek: The Next Generation||Admiral Leonard McCoy||Episode: "Encounter at Farpoint"|
|1992||Star Trek: 25th Anniversary||Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy|
|1993||Star Trek: Judgment Rites||Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy|
- Shatner, William; Fisher, David (2016). Leonard. St. Martin's Press. p. 108ff.
- Andrew Jacobs (June 12, 1999). "DeForest Kelley, 79, Creator Of Dr. McCoy on 'Star Trek' - The New York Times". The New York Times. Nytimes.com. p. A13. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
- Who, Marquis Who's (August 10, 2010). "Who was who in America - Marquis Who's Who - Google Books". Retrieved October 26, 2019.
- Rioux 2005, p. 4.
- Rioux 2005, p. 5.
- "DeForest Kelley". pathcom.com. Archived from the original on June 9, 2008. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
- Rioux 2005, p. 12.
- "Obituary: DeForest Kelley". The Independent. June 14, 1999. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
- Rioux 2005, p. 62.
- Woo, Elaine (June 12, 1999). "DeForest Kelley, Actor Beloved as Dr. McCoy on 'Star Trek,' Dies at 79". Los Angeles Times. p. 30.
- Rioux 2005, p. 75.
- Rioux 2005, p. 97.
- Rioux 2005, p. 102.
- Rioux 2005, p. 112.
- Rioux 2005, p. 106.
- Crowther, Bosley (December 21, 1957). "Screen: M-G-M's 'Raintree County'; Film of Lockridge Book Has 2-Theatre Debut". The New York Times. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
- Hook, Jim (March 10, 2015). "Veteran of nuclear sub maintains vintage torpedo". The Washington Times. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
- Rowan, Terry (2013). The American Western A Complete Film Guide. p. 268. ISBN 978-1-300-41858-0.
- Lentz III, Harris M. (2008). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 1999. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 117. ISBN 9780786452040.
- Rioux 2005, p. 100.
- Rioux 2005, p. 139.
- Rioux 2005, p. 131.
- Rioux 2005, p. 121.
- Rioux 2005, p. 137.
- "Radio Drama: Before He Was Dr. McCoy, DeForest Kelly was Radio's 'Flesh Peddler'". WHAV. January 5, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
- "Excerpt The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit". YouTube. April 22, 2008. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
- Rioux 2005, p. 127.
- Rioux 2005, p. 135.
- StarTrek.com, staff. "Star Trek Remembering DeForest Kelley". startrek.com. CBS Entertainment. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
- Rioux 2005, p. 277.
- Rioux 2005, p. 167.
- Rioux 2005, p. 158–159.
- Rioux 2005, p. 174.
- Rioux 2005, p. ii.
- Clark, Mark (2012). Star Trek FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the First Voyages of the Starship Enterprise. p. 120.
- Marriott, Michael (September 15, 1991). "TV View; the 'Star Trek' Curse: a Lifetime Starfleet Commission". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2011.
- Michaels, Marguerite (December 10, 1978). "A Visit to Star Trek's Movie Launch". Parade. Retrieved May 2, 2011.
- Wilkins, Brian (January 20, 2014). "Remembering DeForest Kelley, On His 94th Birthday". TrekNews.net. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
- Rioux 2005, p. 223, 361.
- Newsweek, July 20, 1999.
- "DeForest Kelley | Hollywood Walk of Fame". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
- Woo, Elaine (June 12, 1999). "DeForest Kelley". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
- "BUT FIRST, PLEASE TAKE OFF THE SPURS". Sun-Sentinel. July 16, 1999. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- Gliatto, Tom (June 28, 1999). "Doctor to the Stars". People. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to DeForest Kelley.|
- DeForest Kelley on IMDb
- DeForest Kelley at the TCM Movie Database
- DeForest Kelley at AllMovie
- DeForest Kelley (1920-1999) New Georgia Encyclopedia
- DeForest Kelley at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Amctv.com Article about Kelley's Western Career
- on YouTube
- Interview with Kris Smith who looked after Kelley in his final year – The Spectrum, February 2016.