DEFOREST KELLEY Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Jackson DeForest Kelley                                                         
Born: 20 January 1920 Atlanta, Georgia, United States                                 
Died: 11 June 1999 Woodland Hills, California, United States                           
Jackson DeForest Kelley (January 20, 1920 – June 11, 1999) was an American actor     
known for his starring role as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy of the USS Enterprise         
in the television series Star Trek and six of its subsequent movies, as well as       
an elderly Admiral Dr. Leonard McCoy in the Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot,     
Encounter at Farpoint.                                                                 
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.               
Kelley was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Ernest David Kelley (a Baptist         
minister) and Clora Casey, delivered in their home by his uncle, a prominent           
local physician. As a child, he sang in the church choir, where he discovered         
that he enjoyed singing and was good at it. Eventually this led to solos and an       
appearance on radio station WSB in Atlanta. As a result of his radio work, he         
won an engagement with Lew Forbes and his orchestra at the Paramount Theater. He       
was a 1938 graduate of Decatur High School in Decatur, Georgia. In one of the         
Star Trek comic books it was stated that Dr. McCoy's father had been a Baptist         
preacher, an idea that apparently came from Kelley's own life as the son of a         
Baptist minister. Kelley had an older brother, Ernest Casey Kelley.                   
Kelley served in the Second World War as an enlisted member of the Army Air           
Forces between March 10, 1943 and January 28, 1946. After an extended stay at         
Long Beach, California, he decided to relocate to the state permanently to             
pursue an acting career and to live with his uncle, Casey. He worked as an usher       
in a local theater in order to earn enough money for the move. Kelley received         
encouragement from his mother about this life change, but his father disliked         
the idea. While in California, Kelley was spotted by a Paramount scout while           
doing a Navy training film.                                                           
The first movie of Kelley's acting career was the feature film Fear in the Night.     
The low-budget movie was a blockbuster hit, bringing him to the attention of a         
national audience. His next role, in Variety Girl, established him as a leading       
actor. A few years later, Kelley and his wife, Carolyn, 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. In turn       
this led to him starring in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral as Morgan Earp. This,         
his first major role in a big film, was a source of three movie offers.               
For nine years, Kelley primarily played villains. He built up an impressive 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 would             
appear in another Roddenberry pilot, Police Story (1967), which was also not           
picked up.                                                                             
Years before being cast as Dr. McCoy, Kelley appeared in the 1962 Bonanza             
episode entitled "The Decision," as a doctor sentenced to hang for the murder of       
a judge's wife. The judge in this episode was portrayed by John Hoyt, who played       
Dr. Phillip John Boyce, one of Leonard McCoy's predecessors, on the Star Trek         
pilot "The Cage". Kelley played Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy from 1966 to 1969 in         
Roddenberry's Star Trek (TOS) and the first six Star Trek motion pictures (1979       
to 1991). He also had a cameo in the first episode of Star Trek: The Next             
Generation: "Encounter at Farpoint" as by-that-time Admiral Dr. Leonard McCoy,         
Star Fleet Surgeon General Emeritus. One of his best-known lines as Dr. McCoy,         
listed in detail in the Bones McCoy article, was of the form "I'm a doctor, not       
a ________!" As a nod to the original series, this phrase was also often used by       
the Holographic Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager, and once by Dr. Bashir in the         
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" which merged the       
DS9 cast with the original series episode "Trouble With Tribbles".                     
He was good friends with Star Trek castmates William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy         
from 1964, when he met each of them for the first time. He was very proud of the       
fact he was the only one of the three who stayed married to the same wife,             
Carolyn, for almost his entire life. His stock comment to them was, "I'm alive         
and well and living in the valley with the very same wife!"                           
After Star Trek, Kelley found himself a victim of the very typecasting he had so       
feared. He did a few television appearances and a couple of movies, but               
essentially went into de facto retirement. In a TLC interview done in the late         
1990s, he said one of his biggest fears was that the words etched on his               
gravestone would be "He's dead, Jim," a catch phrase that Dr. McCoy spoke in           
many Star Trek episodes. Kelley took up poetry as a hobby, and he published the       
first two books in a series, The Big Bird's Dream and The Dream Goes On. Kelley       
would not live to finish this series, as he died on June 11, 1999, in Woodland         
Hills, California, at the age of 79. The cause of his death was stomach cancer.       
He wasn't included in the Memorium Montage at the following years Academy Awards,     
which angered many Trek fans. He was survived by his wife, Carolyn, who died in       
October 2004.