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"He's dead Jim."

- as Dr. Leonard McCoy, Star Trek

For his final film,
DeForest Kelley provided the voice of Viking 1
in the 2nd/3rd installment in the children's series
The Brave Little Toaster
Goes to Mars.

Jackson DeForest Kelley (January 20th, 1920 – June 11th, 1999) was an American actor, screenwriter, poet and singer known for his iconic roles in Westerns and as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy of the USS Enterprise in the television and film series Star Trek.

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. DeForest 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. As a child Kelley was immersed in his father's mission in Conyers, Georgia, regularly putting use to his musical talents he would often sing solos in morning church services. Eventually, this led to an appearance on the radio station WSB AM in Atlanta, Georgia. As a result of his 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 and 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 between March 10th, 1943, and January 28th, 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. 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 that 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 he 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. 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 was a source for 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 starred in the lead role as a U.S. Navy submarine captain in World War Two in The Silent Service TV series. He appeared in both season 1, episode 5 "The Spearfish Delivers" as Commander Dempsey and in the first episode of season 2 "The Archerfish Spits Straight" as Lt. Comm. Enright. His Star Trek co-star, Leonard Nimoy, also appeared in two different episodes of this same series at around the same time.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral appeared three times in Kelley’s career, first in 1955, where he portrayed Ike Clanton in the television series You Are There; again, two years later in the 1957 film of that name, playing Morgan Earp (above with Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster and John Hudson); and perhaps in an ironic salute, once again on October 25th, 1968, in a third season Star Trek episode entitled "Spectre of the Gun", this time portraying Tom McLaury.

Kelley also appeared in episodes of The Donna Reed Show, Perry Mason, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Boots and Saddles, Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater, Death Valley Days, Riverboat, Lawman, Bat Masterson 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 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), that was again not developed into a series.

In 1956, 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 section of the United States Navy. In 1962, he appeared in the Bonanza episode entitled "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). 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".

In 1964 Gene Roddenberry offered DeForest Kelley the role of Spock in the new television series he was developing. Kelly turned down the role.

Roddenberry's second choice to portray the character was Adam West, who at the time happened to be busy working on the film Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964), and as a result, turned to Nimoy, already known to him from a guest appearance in his TV pilot The Lieutenant. Nichelle Nichols and Martin Landau were also considered for the role of Spock. Kelley, on the other hand, would later be cast as Dr. McCoy, the highly emotional human who became Spock's frequent foil and played Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy from 1966 to 1969 in original Star Trek series. Kelley 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 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 background. In 1987, he also had a cameo in "Encounter at Farpoint", the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, as by-that-time Admiral Leonard McCoy, Starfleet Surgeon General Emeritus, 137 yrs old and still refusing to be transported. Several aspects of Kelley's background became part of McCoy's characterization, including his pronunciation of "nuclear" as "nucular". When Star Trek first aired in 1966, Kelley had, unlike most of his co-stars, already been a professional actor for more than 20 years. Although he didn't look it at the time, he was more than a decade older than most of the cast.

Kelley became good friends with Star Trek cast mates 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 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; however, 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 to be his favourite 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 couple of movies but essentially went into de facto retirement other than playing McCoy. By 1978 he was earning up to $50,000 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 would eventually be his final live action film appearance.

In a TLC interview done in the late 1990s, Kelley jokingly said one of his biggest fears was that the words etched on his gravestone would be "He's dead, Jim." Reflecting this, Kelley's obituary in Newsweek magazine began: "We're not even going to try to resist: He's dead, Jim." On the other hand, he stated that he was very proud to hear from so many Star Trek fans who had been inspired to become doctors as a result of his portrayal of Dr. McCoy.

Later in life, Kelley developed an interest in poetry, eventually publishing the first of two books in a series, The Big Bird's Dream and The Dream Goes On (a series he would never finish). Kelley died of stomach cancer on June 11th, 1999. His body was cremated and the ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

    Selected DeForest Kelley TVography

21 Beacon Street
- The Hostage (1959)

26 Men
- Trail of Revenge (1959)

77 Sunset Strip
- 88 Bars (1963)

A Man Called Shenandoah
- The Riley Brand (1966)

The ABC Afternoon Playbreak
- I Never Said Goodbye (1973)

The Adventures of Jim Bowie
- An Eye for an Eye (1957)

Alcoa Theatre
- 333 Montgomery Street (1960)
- Johnny Risk (1958)

Armstrong Circle Theatre
- Breakaway (1952)

Assignment: Underwater
- Affair in Tokyo (1961)

Bat Masterson
- No Amnesty for Death (1961)

Black Saddle
- Apache Trail (1959)

The Bold Ones: The New Doctors
- Giants Never Kneel (1970)

- Ride the Wind: Part 1 and 2 (1966)
- The Decision (1962)
- The Honor of Cochise (1961)

Boots and Saddles
- The Marquis of Donnybrook (1957)

Cain's Hundred
- The Fixer (1961)

Cavalcade of America
- A Medal for Miss Walker (1954)

City Detective
- Crazy Like a Fox (1954)
- An Old Man's Gold (1953)

Code 3
- Oil Well Incident (1957)

Coronado 9
- Run, Shep, Run (1961)
- Loser's Circle (1960)

The Cowboys
- David Done It (1974)

The Dakotas
- Reformation at Big Nose Butte (1963)

Death Valley Days
- Lady of the Plains (1966)
- Devil's Gate (1965)
- Coffin for a Coward (1963)
- The Breaking Point (1962)

The Deputy
- The Means and the End (1961)

- Elfego Baca: Mustang Man, Mustang Maid (1959)

The Donna Reed Show
- Uncle Jeff Needs You (1965)

The Fugitive
- Three Cheers for Little Boy Blue (1965)

The Gallant Men
- A Taste of Peace (1963)

- Indian Scout (1956)

Have Gun - Will Travel
- The Treasure (1962)

- Warrior's Return (1970)

Johnny Midnight
- The Inner Eye (1960)

- The Unvanquished (1963)
- Gun Duel (1962)

- Sound of Terror (1966)

- The Squatters (1961)
- The Thimblerigger (1960)

The Lineup
- The Chloroform Murder Case (1959)

The Littlest Hobo
- Runaway (1981)

The Lone Ranger
- Death in the Forest (1953)
- Gold Train (1950)
- The Legion of Old Timers (1949)

The Lone Wolf
- The Las Vegas Story (1954)
- The Murder Story (1954)

M Squad
- Hideout (1958)
- Diamond Hard (1957)
- Pete Loves Mary (1957)

Mackenzie's Raiders
- Son of the Hawk (1959)

- Counterpoint (1960)

Matinee Theatre
- From the Desk of Margaret Tydings (1956)
- Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1955)

Mayor of the Town
- Long May It Wag (1955)
- The Poet (1954)
- Minnie's Job (1954)

Mike Hammer
- I Ain't Talkin' (1959)
- Bride and Doom (1959)

The Millionaire
- The Iris Miller Story (1955)

Navy Log
- Nightmare Off Brooklyn (1957)
- Cigar-Box John (1957)

Northwest Passage
- Death Rides the Wind (1959)

The O. Henry Playhouse
- Fog in Santone (1957)
- Hiding of Black Bill (1957)

Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law
- Make No Mistake (1971)

The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse
- Frozen Escape (1953)

Perry Mason
- The Case of the Unwelcome Bride (1961)

Playhouse 90
- Point of No Return (1958)
- The Edge of Innocence (1957)

Public Defender
- The Murder Photo (1954)

Public Prosecutor
- The Case of the Man Who Wasn't There (1947)

- Incident at Barker Springs (1959)

The Revlon Mirror Theater
- Dreams Never Lie (1953)

Richard Diamond, Private Detective
- The Fine Art of Murder (1960)
- The Adjuster (1959)
- The Limping Man (1959)

- Listen to the Nightingale (1961)

Room 222
- The Sins of the Fathers (1971)

The Rough Riders
- The Nightbinders (1958)

Route 66
- 1800 Days to Justice (1962)
- The Clover Throne (1961)

Schlitz Playhouse of Stars
- Hands of the Enemy (1957)

- The Pickup (1961)

Science Fiction Theatre
- Survival in Box Canyon (1956)
- The Long Day (1955)
- Y.O.R.D. (1955)

The Silent Force
- The Judge (1970)

The Silent Service
- The Archerfish Spits Straight (1958)
- The Gar Story (1957)
- The Spearfish Delivers (1957)

Slattery's People
- Question: Which One Has the Privilege? (1964)

Special Agent 7
- Border Masquerade (1959)

Stagecoach West
- The Big Gun (1961)
- Image of a Man (1961)

Star Trek
- series star as Dr. McCoy (76 episodes 1966-1969)

Star Trek: The Animated Series
- series star as Dr. McCoy (22 episodes 1973-1974)

Star Trek: The Next Generation
- Encounter at Farpoint (1987)

State Trooper
- The Patient Skeleton (1959)

Steve Canyon
- Operation Jettison (1958)

Strange Stories
- Such a Nice Little Girl (1956)

Studio 57
- Vacation with Pay (1955)
- Storm Signal (1954)

Studio One
- The Last Cruise (1950)

Tales of Wells Fargo
- Captain Scoville (1961)

- Quiet Night in Porter (1959)
- Blind Alley (1959)
- Hard Lines (1959)
- The Jailbreak (1958)
- End of an Outlaw (1957)

Two Faces West
- Fallen Gun (1960)

The Virginian
- Man of Violence (1963)

Wanted: Dead or Alive
- The Empty Cell (1959)
- Secret Ballot (1959)

- Shipper, Beware (1954)
- The Race (1954)

The Web
- Kill and Run (1957)

You Are There
- The Fall of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 (1956)
- The Heroism of Clara Barton on Sept. 17, 1862 (1956)
- Spindletop - The First Great Texas Oil Strike on Jan. 10, 1901 (1955)
- Eli Whitney Invents the Cotton Gin on May 27, 1793 (1955)
- The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral on Oct. 26, 1881 (1955)
- The Rescue of the American Prisoners from Santo Tomas on Feb. 3, 1945 (1955)
- The Surrender of Corregidor on May 6, 1942 (1954)
- The Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown (1953)
- The Capture of John Wilkes Booth on April 26, 1865 (1953)

Your Favorite Story
- Inside Out (1954)
- Inside Out: The Story of Bunder-Runger the Jailbird (1954)
- The Man Who Sold His Shadow (1953)

Your Jeweler's Showcase
- The Hand of St. Pierre (1952)

Zane Grey Theater
- Calico Bait (1960)
- Shadow of a Dead Man (1958)
- Village of Fear (1957)
- Stage for Tucson (1956)

    Selected DeForest Kelley Filmography


Time to Kill (Short)


Variety Girl

Fear in the Night

Beyond Our Own (Short)


Canon City

Gypsy Holiday (Short)


Malaya (uncredited)

Duke of Chicago

Life of St. Paul Series


The Men




Duffy of San Quentin



House of Bamboo (uncredited)

The View from Pompey's Head (uncredited)


The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

Tension at Table Rock


Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

Raintree County


The Law and Jake Wade




Gunfight at Comanche Creek


Where Love Has Gone


Marriage on the Rocks

Town Tamer

Black Spurs


Apache Uprising




Police Story (TV Movie)


Night of the Lepus


Star Trek: The Motion Picture


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan


Star Trek III: The Search for Spock


Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home


Star Trek V: The Final Frontier


Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

DeForest Kelley had a few famous relitives in his family tree...

In the early part of the 20th century cousin Bebe Daniels already had toured as an actor by the age of four in a stage production of Richard III the US, she had her first leading role at the age of seven and started her film career shortly after this in movies for Imperial, Pathe and others. At 14 she was already a film veteran, and was enlisted by Hal Roach to star as Harold Lloyd's leading lady in his "Lonesome Luke" shorts distributed by Pathe. Lloyd fell hard for Bebe and seriously considered marrying her but her drive to pursue a film career along with her sense of independence clashed with Lloyd's Victorian definition of a wife. The two eventually broke up but would remain lifelong friends.

In the 1920s, Daniels was under contract with Paramount Pictures. She made the transition from child star to adult in Hollywood by 1922 and by 1924 was playing opposite Rudolph Valentino in Monsieur Beaucaire. Following this she was cast in a number of light popular films, namely Miss Bluebeard, The Manicure Girl, and Wild Wild Susan. Unlike many actors, the arrival of sound posed no problem for her; she had a beautiful singing voice and became a major musical star, with such hits like Rio Rita (1929) and 42nd Street (1933) for RKO. After musicals had gone out of fashion she signed with Warner Brothers were she starred in such pictures as My Past (1931), Honor of the Family (1931) and the 1931 pre-code version of The Maltese Falcon, which was eventually eclipsed by John Huston's legendary 1941 version with Humphrey Bogart. In 1932, she appeared in Silver Dollar (1932) and the successful Busby Berkeley choreographed musical comedy 42nd Street (1933) in which she sang once again. That same year she played opposite John Barrymore in Counsellor at Law. Her last film for the Warner Brothers was Registered Nurse (1934).

Bebe Daniels retired from Hollywood in 1935. With her husband, film actor Ben Lyon, whom she married in 1930, she moved to London. A few years later, Daniels starred in the London production of Panama Hattie in the title role originated by Ethel Merman. The Lyons then did radio shows for the BBC. Most notably, they starred in the series Hi Gang!, continuing for decades and enjoying considerable popularity during World War II. Daniels wrote most of the dialogue for the Hi Gang radio show. The couple remained through the days of the The Blitz. Following the war, Daniels was awarded the Medal of Freedom by Harry S. Truman for war service. In 1945 she returned to Hollywood for a short time to work as a film producer for Hal Roach and Eagle-Lion Films. She returned to the UK in 1948 and lived there for the remainder of her life. Daniels, her husband, her son Richard and her daughter Barbara all starred in the radio sitcom Life With The Lyons (1951 to 1961), which later made the transition to television. Daniels suffered a severe stroke in 1963 and withdrew from public life. She suffered a second stroke in late 1970. On March 16th, 1971, Daniels died of a cerebral hemorrhage in London at the age of 70.

Another relative, Dr. Lee De Forest, "the father of sound", was instrumental in improving the sound quality of the early talkies inventing the 3-element vacuum tube which helped usher in the age of radio and television. DeForest Kelley is named after him.

Cousin Calvert DeForest was born on July 23nd, 1921 in Brooklyn, New York, USA. He was an actor, known for The Couch Potato Workout (1988), My Demon Lover (1987) and Apple Pie (1976). Calvert is best known today for his work with David Letterman. In early 1982, DeForest was hired to appear on the new show Late Night With David Letterman playing the role of Larry "Bud" Melman who would be given odd chores to perform, such as handing out hot towels to arrivals at the New York Port Authority bus terminal. At other times, Melman would give pre-scripted answers to unlikely audience questions or interrupt programming to promote a bizarre new product (such as "Toast-on-a-stick: Bread's answer to the popsicle!"). Melman also appeared as "Kenny The Gardener", offering dubious gardening advice to home viewers. Occasionally, Melman would just simply wander onto the stage during Letterman's monologue as if lost, then leave without saying anything.

A hallmark of the character was his seemingly genuine lack of acting polish. Melman's scripted lines were usually delivered in a forceful shout, but when Letterman or others forced "Melman" into ad-libbing, the actor's naturally more soft-spoken and polite nature came to the forefront. He was also noted for his remote interviews in which he would ask the interviewee a question, but pitch the microphone to the interviewee too quickly, resulting in the last part of the question being inaudible.

When Letterman moved from NBC to CBS in 1993, the Melman name was retired, as NBC insisted that character of "Larry 'Bud' Melman" was their intellectual property. However, starting from the very first edition of The Late Show with David Letterman, DeForest continued to play exactly the same character he had played on Late Night, he now simply used his own name to do so. DeForest often drew laughs as a Late Show correspondent at events such as the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway and the Woodstock anniversary. One of DeForest's more memorable skits came on Letterman's May 13th, 1994, show. The host stated Johnny Carson would announce the evening's Top 10 list, at which point DeForest appeared as "Johnny Carson." Shortly after DeForest's exit, the real Johnny Carson appeared in what would prove Carson's last television appearance.

DeForest continued to appear on Letterman's show until his 81st birthday in 2002 before retiring from acting. Letterman noted after DeForest's death, "Everyone always wondered if Calvert was an actor playing a character, but in reality he was just himself: a genuine, modest and nice man. To our staff and to our viewers, he was a beloved and valued part of our show, and we will miss him." When asked how he'd like to be remembered, DeForest responded, "Just being able to make people laugh and knowing people enjoyed my humor. I also hope I haven't offended anyone through the years."

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