Friends Remember DeForest KelleyBy Caillan
June 13, 2002 - 4:30 PM
Tuesday, June 11, was the third anniversary of the passing of De Forest Kelley (Leonard 'Bones' McCoy), prompting those that knew him best to reflect on their time with the well-loved actor.
"'Dee' was the epitome of a southern gentleman, with his manners, his sense of fairness and honor," wrote co-star William Shatner (James T. Kirk) at his official web site. "I enjoyed his company enormously and it was a real kick to work with him. He had been in 'the business' for years before I worked with him and he knew how to keep the tennis ball of performance bouncing between us."
Shatner fondly recalled his final encounter with Kelley, when he visited him in hospital shortly before his death. "Instead of succumbing to fear and resignation, what he wanted most of all was to make a western with Leonard [Nimoy] and me! It was on that note that I left him and he left us a few days later. I've never forgotten how his optimism spoke of his true character, even in the most difficult and awesome of moments."
Kristine M. Smith, author of DeForest Kelley: A Harvest of Memories, and a close personal friend of the actor, said he never let the fame go to his head. "He was a very funny guy and a good, yet always humane practical joker," she told Sci Fi Pulse. "The word humane is important when you think of his practical jokes. His humor was never condescending or cruel. He was as decent a human being as I have known; compassionate as well as wise. De didn't act like the typical movie star. He may have finally understood he was one, but it didn't change his lifestyle or his appreciation or his attitude. He was just a salt of the earth kind of guy. [...] He always said how lucky he was and how none of it would have happened without his/Trek's fans."
Over the course of his long career, Kelley starred in countless films, often playing the villain in classic Westerns. His resume included 'Gunfight at the OK Corral,' 'Apache Uprising,' 'Tension at Cable Rock' as well as guest appearances in The Lone Ranger, Stagecoach West and The Fugitive. However, Kelley is best known for his role as the crotchety Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy on the Original Series, a part he reprised in six Star Trek feature films.