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DeForest Kelley

DeForest Kelley

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Also Known As: Deforest Jackson Kelley, De Forest Kelley Died: June 11, 1999
Born: January 20, 1920 Cause of Death: stomach cancer
Birth Place: Atlanta, Georgia, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

owâ¿¿s demise. This, combined with a growing resurgence of interest due to ubiquitous reruns of "Star Trek" in syndication, eventually prompted Paramount Studios to develop a property that would capitalize on its enduring popularity. At last, after years of false starts and re-conceptions, the entire original crew of the Enterprise made their feature film debut a full decade after the series cancellation in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (1979). Helmed by Academy Award-winning director Robert Wise, the film was a lavish, special effects-laden feast for the eyes that found Kirk and the crew banded together once again to prevent an all-powerful entity from destroying Earth. If not entirely the rousing space adventure "Trekkies" had long been hoping for â¿¿ many critics noted the filmâ¿¿s slow pace â¿¿ it nonetheless satisfied audiences and studio execs enough to warrant a sequel.Having learned their lesson from the previous outing, Paramount and director Nicholas Meyer delivered a crowd-pleasing, swashbuckling space adventure in the form of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (1982). Bringing back a character from the original series, Kirkâ¿¿s antagonist was Khan (Ricardo Montalban), a...

owâ¿¿s demise. This, combined with a growing resurgence of interest due to ubiquitous reruns of "Star Trek" in syndication, eventually prompted Paramount Studios to develop a property that would capitalize on its enduring popularity. At last, after years of false starts and re-conceptions, the entire original crew of the Enterprise made their feature film debut a full decade after the series cancellation in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (1979). Helmed by Academy Award-winning director Robert Wise, the film was a lavish, special effects-laden feast for the eyes that found Kirk and the crew banded together once again to prevent an all-powerful entity from destroying Earth. If not entirely the rousing space adventure "Trekkies" had long been hoping for â¿¿ many critics noted the filmâ¿¿s slow pace â¿¿ it nonetheless satisfied audiences and studio execs enough to warrant a sequel.

Having learned their lesson from the previous outing, Paramount and director Nicholas Meyer delivered a crowd-pleasing, swashbuckling space adventure in the form of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (1982). Bringing back a character from the original series, Kirkâ¿¿s antagonist was Khan (Ricardo Montalban), a genetically-engineered superhuman on an Ahab-like quest to destroy the legendary starship commander. While not given as much prominence as he enjoyed on the television show, Kelley still managed to steal a scene or two and deliver a few classic "Bones" zingers. He was given a bit more to do in the second sequel "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" (1984), this time directed by Nimoy. Having been imbued with the "living spirit" of Spock after the Vulcanâ¿¿s apparent death at the end of the previous film, "Bones" literally carried the essence of his friendâ¿¿s being within him until Spockâ¿¿s corporeal form could be miraculously regenerated via the power of the aptly-named Genesis devise. Kelley returned along with Shatner, Nimoy, George Takei, James Doohan, Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols for the fan-favorite "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (1986), a more playful entry in the franchise that saw the crew returning to 20th-century Earth on a mission to save the whales.

With the "Star Trek" universe more popular than ever, Kelley did a favor for Rodenberry when he christened the long-gestating spin-off series "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (syndicated, 1987-1994) with a cameo as an elderly Dr. McCoy on the showâ¿¿s pilot episode, "Encounter at Farpoint." He reprised the role of McCoy twice more in "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" (1989) â¿¿ Shatnerâ¿¿s sole contribution as director on the series â¿¿ and "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" (1991), the final big screen adventure to feature the original Enterprise crew. Largely retired from screen appearances, he gave a nod to his early intergalactic adventures with his last performance as the voice of the deep space probe Viking 1 in the animated family adventure "The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars" (1998). One year later, Kelley passed away in his Sherman Oaks, CA home at the age of 79 after a lengthy bout with stomach cancer, plunging fans and his longtime co-stars into genuine mourning.for the next few years.

Eventually, Kelley gave Hollywood another try and was rewarded with work on series such as the Walter Cronkite-hosted historical recreation drama "You Are There" (CBS, 1953-57) and in episodes of the hugely popular "The Lone Ranger" (ABC, 1949-1957). He gradually resumed his feature career with tiny roles in Samuel Fuller's Tokyo noir "House of Bamboo" (1955) and the Gregory Peck drama "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit" (1956), in which he would utter the eerily prophetic line "This manâ¿¿s dead, Captain" to Peck. A slightly larger role in ""Tension at Table Rock" (1956) set the stage for much of the character actorâ¿¿s future output in Westerns, in which he was frequently cast as a secondary villain. He bucked the latter part of the trend when he played Morgan Earp, the loyal brother of legendary gunfighter Wyatt (Burt Lancaster) in the highly-regarded account of the "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (1957). However, he was soon relegated back to bad guy supporting roles in such gun-toting morality tales as "The Law and Jake Wade" (1958) and "Warlock" (1959), two more Westerns which both starred popular leading man Richard Widmark.

Increasingly, television work was becoming Kelleyâ¿¿s professional bread-and-butter, and a leading role in writer-producer Gene Roddenberryâ¿¿s crime-drama pilot "333 Montgomery" (NBC, 1960) held out the promise of a higher-profile and steadier work. When a regular series did not come to pass, the actor moved forward with dozens of guest star appearances on such popular programs as "Route 66" (CBS, 1960-64) and "Have Gun - Will Travel" (CBS, 1957-63). Appearances alongside Bette Davis and Susan Hayward in the Edward Dmytryk-directed "Where Love Has Gone" (1964) and a smaller turn in the Frank Sinatra-Dean Martin divorce comedy "Marriage on the Rocks" (1965) gave the struggling Kelley a much needed boost in visibility in decidedly more contemporary material. However, more small roles in cowboy fare like the by-the-book Westerns "Town Tamer" (1965) and "Waco" (1966) seemed to herald a career forever relegated to saddles, sagebrush and six-guns. That was until Kelley received a call from Roddenberry, who remembered him from "333 Montgomery" and wanted the actor for a little space show he was developing over at NBC. The rest was history.

Pitched to the network by Roddenberry as a sort of Western adventure set in outer space, "Star Trek" (NBC, 1966-69) followed the ongoing adventures of the crew of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise as it explored the farthest reaches of the galaxy and beyond. Although not cast in either the first or second pilot for the proposed show, Roddenberry had always pictured Kelley in the role of the shipâ¿¿s doctor, so when "Star Trek" went into regular series production Roddenberry immediately cast the actor in the role of Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. From the beginning, the seriesâ¿¿ focus was on the dashing, impetuous Capt. James T. Kirk (William Shatner), along with his second in command, the supremely logical and emotionless Vulcan, Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy). That dynamic soon began to shift, however, as Kelleyâ¿¿s endearing portrayal of the excitable, argumentative and, above all else, human McCoy quickly elevated him to co-starring status, forming the Kirk-Spock-McCoy triptych of indelible characters beloved by fans.

Alternately serving as Kirkâ¿¿s conscience and as a foil to Spockâ¿¿s sterile logic, McCoy, at heart an old-fashioned country doctor, ill-at-ease with gallivanting across the cosmos, was the emotional core of the Enterprise crew. Kelleyâ¿¿s impassioned delivery of recurring lines like "Heâ¿¿s dead, Jim," and "Iâ¿¿m a doctor, not a [fill in the blank], dammit" eventually found their way into the pop culture lexicon. As was so often the case with the most competent supporting actors, Kelleyâ¿¿s work on the show was overshadowed by the scenery-chewing performance of Shatner and Nimoyâ¿¿s iconic characterization. Consequently, when "Star Trek" was cancelled by an unconvinced NBC in 1969, Kelley watched his two co-stars go on to further lucrative endeavors, while he waited for the phone to ring. There were the odd television guest spots and a role in the horrendous giant rabbit horror feature "Night of the Lepus" (1972), but little else. Glad for the work, Kelley briefly revived McCoy â¿¿ albeit in voice only â¿¿ for the surprisingly well-made animated version of "Star Trek" (NBC, 1973-75), along with most of the other original cast members, including Shatner and Nimoy.

Eventually pushed into a de facto retirement by a lack of offers, Kelley subsisted largely off of fees he made for appearances at various Star Trek conventions around the country. The fan gatherings had been building in both frequency and attendance in the years since the sh

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Trekkies (1997)
3.
 Star Trek VI: the Undiscovered Country (1991) Doctor Leonard "Bones" Mccoy
5.
 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) Dr Leonard "Bones" Mccoy
7.
8.
 Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) Dr Mccoy
9.
 Night of the Lepus (1972) Elgin Clark
10.
 Apache Uprising (1966) Toby Jack Saunders
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sang in his local church's choir
1937:
First journeyed outside his native Georgia after graduating high school at age 17; visited an uncle in Long Beach, California, planning to stay for two weeks, but lived in California for a year (date approximate)
:
Performed on the radio station WSB, which won him a singing engagement at the Atlanta Paramount Theater with Lew Forbest and His Orchestra
:
Moved to California; joined the Long Beach Theater Group
:
Discovered by a Paramount talent when he appeared in a Navy training film; was offered a screen test and later a contract; stayed with Paramount for approximately 2 1/2 years (date approximate)
1947:
Made feature film debut in a leading role in the Paramount-produced film noir, "Fear in the Night"
1949:
Last Hollywood film for six years, "Duke of Chicago"
:
Moved to New York City and worked primarily onstage in stock theater as well as in early TV, such as the "Schlitz Playhouse of Stars" (date approximate)
1955:
Returned to Hollywood to resume feature film work and to work in TV shot on the West coast; first film, "House of Bamboo", directed by Sam Fuller; got help finding TV work from friend Barney Girard, who was writing for "You Are There"
1956:
Acted in first Western feature, "Tension at Table Rock"
1960:
Played the leading role of lawyer Jake Brittin in the NBC crime pilot, "333 Montgomery", broadcast as an installment of the "Alcoa Theater"; Gene Roddenberry wrote and produced the pilot; later became a series entitled "Sam Benedict", but with Edmond O'Brien in the title role
1966:
Another feature film absence, of six years, followed after "Waco"
:
Played Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy on the cult NBC science-fiction series, "Star Trek"
:
Provided the voice of Dr. McCoy for the NBC animated children's version of "Star Trek"
1979:
First reprised the role of Dr. McCoy on the big screen for the feature film, "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"
1991:
Final acting role, reprising McCoy in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country"
1995:
Final film appearance in the documentary "William Shatner's Star Trek Memories!"
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Education

Decatur Boys' High School: -

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Carolyn Dowling. Married on September 7, 1945; met when they were both performing with the Long Beach Theater Group.

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