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DeForest Kelley

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Jackson DeForest Kelley (born January 20, 1920 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA; passed away June 11, 1999) was famous for his role as Leonard "Bones" McCoy, MD, on "Star Trek: The Original Series". He went on to voice the character on "The Animated Series" spin-off as well as the first six Star Trek films.


Kelley was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Having always wanted to be a doctor yet thwarted by the Great Depression, Kelley instead went into show business starting as a singer with the Lew Forbes Orchestra and in radio. [1]

In 1937 Kelley went to Long Beach, California, to stay with his uncle for two weeks. Those two weeks became a year. Even after returning to Georgia, he decided that California was where he wanted to be. While living in California, Kelley joined a local theater group. There he met Carolyn Dowling, whom he would marry in 1945.

During the Second World War, Kelley served as a bomber crew member. Towards the end of the war, a talent scout for Paramount Pictures saw Kelley in a Navy training film which led to a screen test and a contract, starring in his first motion picture Fear in the Night. Later that same year, Kelley co-starred with such legendary entertainers as Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in the musical comedy Variety Girl.

Kelley went on to co-star in the 1948 thriller Canon City. He appeared in smaller, uncredited roles in several films throughout the 1950s, most notably The Men (1950), House of Bamboo (1955) and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956). He did, however, have a larger, supporting role in the 1955 film noir Illegal.

Throughout the late 1950s and the 1960s, he starred or appeared primarily in Westerns. He played Morgan Earp in the acclaimed 1957 John Sturges' Western Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Kelley then appeared in such classic Westerns as Sturges' The Law and Jake Wade (1958), Warlock (1959) and Town Tamer (1965, with Richard Webb). He also co-starred in a few non-Westerns during this time, including Where Love Has Gone (1964) and the 1965 comedy Marriage on the Rocks.

During this time, he made guest appearances on a number of television series, including: "Gunsmoke", "Perry Mason", "Death Valley Days", "The Untouchables" and "The Fugitive". In a 1962 episode of "Bonanza", Kelley played a doctor for the first time. In 1963, Kelley appeared in an episode of "The Virginian". This episode, entitled "Duel at Shiloh", was edited together with another episode to produce a TV special called The Bull of the West, which aired in 1971. Later in 1963, Kelley guest-starred in a second episode of "The Virginian" with Leonard Nimoy. That show marked the second time Kelley played a doctor.

In 1964, Kelley was on the top of writer-producer Gene Roddenberry's list of actors for the role of the ship's doctor in the episode The Cage, the first "Star Trek" pilot. Finally, in 1966, after it came time to reshoot the pilot and recast that role, Roddenberry could cast Kelley as the new chief surgeon for the regular series.

He appeared in very few movies after being cast as Dr. McCoy; his only non-Trek feature film following the cancellation of "Star Trek" was the 1972 horror/science fiction B-movie Night of the Lepus, which was about a group of giant, mutant rabbits. Kelley did, however, continue working in television, continually guest-starring.

Kelley's only non-Trek role throughout the 1990s (and his final role before his death) was the voice of "Viking I" in the direct-to-video animated movie The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars. Kelley retired from acting in the mid 1990s, and succumbed to stomach cancer on June 11, 1999, the first of the original Trek cast to pass on, and the only one not to survive into the 21st century. He was survived by Carolyn Dowling, his wife of nearly 54 years, who passed away in October 2004.

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