Remembering the Lovable DeForest Kelley on his 97th Birthday
Audiences have typically agreed that DeForest Kelley, the lovable yet oh-so-curmudgeonly Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, was the most liked member of the original Star Trek cast. Obviously, it was never meant to be a competition, but there was always an aura about the man that suggested he was, in fact, every bit the gentleman he appeared to be. Take a moment to remember this gifted actor on what would have been his 97th birthday.
Kelley, whose character always prided himself on being a "country" doctor, is himself a product of the South, having been born in Atlanta. He would eventually serve in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.
Ultimately, Kelley chose to pursue an acting career. He relocated to Southern California and found work as an usher at a local theater. Kelley was eventually spotted by a scout for Paramount Pictures while making a training film for the United States Navy.
He met the love of his life, actress Carolyn Dowling while appearing in a production for the Long Beach Theatre Group. They married and were inseparable for the next 53 years. Kelley took great pride in his long marriage and the fact that he was the only one of the lead three cast members on Star Trek to remain married to the same woman.
Over the course of the next three decades, Kelley would appear in Star Trek, followed by the Star Trek animated series, and six major motion pictures based on the series. He would also be the first original cast member to make a cameo appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation, playing his familiar role, but at the age of 137.
Aside from the occasional convention appearance, Kelley spent most of his time at home with wife, working in the garden, and enjoying his pet, Myrtle the Turtle. Kelley passed away June 11th, 1999, at the age of 79.