It's a sad but unavoidable reality: with the passage of time we're losing many of our most-beloved Star Trek: The Original Series regulars and guest stars, as well as important behind-the-scenes figures. Just in the past few months we've bid farewell to Leonard Nimoy, Grace Lee Whitney, Venita Wolf, Harve Bennett, Eddie Hice and Don Mankiewicz. Today, though, marks the 16th anniversary of the first major death to occur among the legendary TOS cast. DeForest Kelley died on June 11, 1999. Rather than focus on his death, StarTrek.com thought we'd mark the occasion by celebrating his life.
Now, it’d be too easy to sit here and list Kelley’s credits or recount Dr. McCoy’s most memorable lines or most infamous sparring matches with Spock. So we’re not going to do that. If you’re interested, though, we highly recommend From Sawdust to Stardust: The Biography of DeForest Kelley, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy, a comprehensive and Kelley-sanctioned biography penned by Terry Lee Rioux and released in 2005. We also suggest checking out DeForest Kelley: A Harvest of Memories, by Kristine M. Smith, a Kelley fan who became his personal assistant and, eventually, his caretaker as the actor lived out his last days. And, of course, there’s a plethora of information to be found online.
“My absolute favorite memory (of Star Trek)? I don’t know. One that stands out, though, was something that happened during our third year of the series. We knew we’d be dropped at the end of the season, but we were still shooting the show. There was a television set around and we watched one of the NASA missions, maybe the one where they landed on the moon. Here we were, standing there in our far-out costumes, filming a show about the future, watching the astronauts walking around for real. That always amazes me, that memory.” – Star Trek Monthly
“It wouldn’t have worked with me as Spock. I still remember Gene (Roddenberry) saying there were two roles in Star Trek he thought I’d be right for. One of them was (Spock) and one of them was what I called High Noon (Dr. McCoy). I thought it over and I said, ‘I’ll take High Noon, Gene.’ High Noon worked out just fine for me, wouldn’t you agree?” – Star Trek Monthly
“These people are doctors now, all kinds of doctors who save lives. That’s something very few people can say they’ve done. I’m proud to say that I have.”
Please feel free to share your favorite McCoy moment or perhaps a personal reminiscence of Kelley.