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I–K Entries
Steve Ihnat
Michael Jackson
Russell Johnson
Tor Johnson
Nathan Juran
Boris Karloff
Buster Keaton
DeForest Kelley
Erle C. Kenton
Val Kilmer
Akira Kubo
Stanley Kubrick
 
KELLEY, DEFOREST
(1920–1999). American actor.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in: Life of St. Paul Series (John T. Coyle 1949); "The Long Day," "Y.O.R.D." (1955), "Survival in Box Canyon" (1956), episodes of Science Fiction Theater; Star Trek (tv series 1966-1969); Night of the Lepus (William Claxton 1972); Star Trek (animated; voice) (tv series) (1973-1974); Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Robert WISE 1979); Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Nicolas MEYER 1982); Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Leonard NIMOY 1984); Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Nimoy 1984); "Encounter at Farpoint" (1987), episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (William SHATNER 1989); Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Meyer 1992);  Star Trek: Judgment Rites (video game; voice) (Greg Christensen, Chris DeSalvo, Chris Jones, Mark Whittlesey, and Wesley Yanagi 1993); The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars (animated; voice) (Robert C. Ramirez 1998).

Appeared in documentaries: Star Trek 24th Anniversary Special (Donald R. Beck 1991); Star Trek Logs: An MTV Big Picture Special Edition (Robert Legato 1991); Star Trek: A Captain's Log (Michael Mahler 1994); William Shatner's Star Trek Memories (Mahler 1995); Trekkies (Roger Nygard 1997).

 
Gene RODDENBERRY may have pitched Star Trek to network executives as "Wagon Train to the stars," but for one key bit of casting he chose another venerable western—Gunsmoke—as his inspiration, modeling his starship's doctor on Milburn Stone's "Doc" Adams, a competent but crusty old fellow with an overfondness for alcohol. And to play the part of Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, he predictably cast an actor whose prior experience had mostly involved film and television westerns, DeForest Kelley.

To his credit, Kelley quickly made McCoy a character more interesting, and more central to his series' success, than Stone's "Doc." In a competition for the affections of William SHATNER's Captain Kirk which was the structural equivalent of a romantic triangle, McCoy established himself as the comforting, boy-next-door alternative to that strange and aloof tall-dark-stranger, Leonard NIMOY's Mr. Spock. In addition, while a master of start-of-the-art futuristic medicine, McCoy otherwise thought, spoke, and reacted precisely like a man from the twentieth century abruptly teleported into the future, espousing down-home values and recoiling from advanced technology and other novelties. In sum, while mundane viewers might admire Kirk, and might be fascinated by Spock, they could always identify with McCoy; and thus, in his own subdued way, Kelley helped to make the series belatedly popular with people who had lacked prior exposure to science fiction. Still, third-season efforts to explore McCoy's character more deeply were far from successful: a projected episode about McCoy's daughter, "Joanna," somehow mutated into the unwatchable "Day of the Dove," and a story about a dying McCoy falling madly in love with a woman in a hollowed-out asteroid, "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky," proved downright embarrassing.

After the cancellation of Star Trek, Kelley returned to his pattern of avoiding science fiction, with the conspicuous exception of a respectable performance in the definitive film about monstrous killer rabbits, Night of the Lepus, which is actually a bit better than published reports would suggest (in other words, it is about as good as a movie about giant rabbits could possibly be). By the time he was summoned back in the late 1970s to appear in a series of Star Trek movies, however, Kelley's McCoy had lost his mojo; for the films unequivocally established Spock as Kirk's main man, and audiences were by then so accustomed to exotic aliens in weird makeup that there was no longer any need for a reassuringly ordinary presence on board the starship Enterprise. No longer serving any important purpose, McCoy now seemed like little more than a crotchety senior citizen unhappily recalled from retirement, which was in effect what the sixty-something Kelley actually was. He also seemed reluctant and unhappy when asked, as a representative of the original Star Trek cast, to bless its successor series Star Trek: The Next Generation by making a cameo appearance in its first episode.

After declining to play a small role in Star Trek: Generations—continuing to believe that his character deserved only starring roles—Kelley relaxed in his last years, limiting his acting work to providing a few voices and appearing in Star Trek documentaries. Significantly, while his one-time colleague in spacefaring, James DOOHAN, sought to have his ashes blasted into outer space, DeForest Kelley was perfectly content to have his ashes scattered in his home planet's Pacific Ocean, a fitting ending for Star Trek's most down-to-Earth character.

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