The death of DeForest Kelley at the age of 79 closes an era in Star
Trek's history and will sadden many fans of the series.
Kelley's portrayal of the endearingly grumpy Dr Leonard 'Bones' McCoy in
the original series and six feature films provided Star Trek with a
vitally convincing character: his perfectly caustic, plain-spoken manner
had all the hallmarks of a real country doctor. Bones' interaction with
Kirk and Spock typically took the form of moral debate or thinly-veiled
power struggle, and arguably assured Star Trek's status as TV's most
Born in Atlanta, Kelley was the son of a Baptist minister. He wanted to
be a doctor but his family could not afford medical school and acting
was his second choice. In the fifties Kelley appeared in a slew of
westerns including Tension at Table Rock (1956), Gunfight at the OK
Corral (1957) and The Law and ke Wade (1958). Spotted by Star Trek
creator Gene Roddenberry, Kelley was invited to the Paramount lot and
offered a choice of two roles: the ships' surgeon or the second-in-
command, an alien with pointed ears. Suspicious of science fiction,
Kelley thought his rather lived-in features better suited the role of
the old-fashioned doctor. Roddenberry agreed.
Kelley had no qualms about being typecast and was an enthusiastic
regular on the fan conventions circuit. He remained loyally at the core
of the movie franchise, dismissing critics of the films who said he and
the original crew were getting too old and tubby to appeal to audiences.
His last film, 1991's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, grossed
$70million at the American box office, suggesting that Kelley was right
and the critics were wrong.
Dr Leonard 'Bones'
A profile of
the much loved, Spock-baiting Doctor.