Sunday, December 13, 2015
3 Ways DeForest Kelley is Still Making the World a Better Place
Actor #DeForestKelley passed away on June 11, 1999 but his portrayal of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the original #StarTrek television and motion picture series’ continues to impact the world in medical clinics, hospitals and other places across the globe.
1.) The late actor DeForest Kelley would likely be one of the last people on earth to suppose—or even to imagine—that his legacy would extend more than a few years beyond his lifetime. In fact, when asked by Dan Madsen how he wished to be remembered, DeForest—familiarly known as “De” to his friends and legions of fans—responded that he wondered if he would be remembered at all. “There’s nothing deader than a dead actor!” he told Madsen—which is generally true. Fewer than ten greats and too-soon-gone icons are still widely remembered and celebrated by the masses decades later: Charlie Chaplin, Laurence Olivier, Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, John Wayne, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley.
So the self-effacing actor would likely be astounded (and definitely touched and honored)to learn of the breadth and width of his enduring legacy. For it’s a fact that countless Dr. McCoy “clones” are tending patients in medical clinics and hospitals across the globe. Whether they’re doctors, nurses, or medical technicians, many were inspired to enter the fields they’re in because of Kelley’s portrayal of Dr. McCoy.
According to Kelley, Dr. McCoy was based on one of Kelley’s Encino doctors… old-fashioned to the core, the way his doctor uncle had been….the kind who, if he didn’t make house calls, would if he could. Kelley’s doctor brought his dog to work with him. His practice was home-like, unhurried, and welcoming. It isn’t hard to imagine that most of today’s McCoy clones emulate the same relational concern and caring, with or without the canine companion.
2.) For the most part, De’s fans have continued to carry De’s ‘katra’ with them. Deeply concerned for the welfare of others (animal, human, veterans, hospitalized children, and fans of all ages, abilities, aptitudes and faiths) as De was, and as gently engaged in the world in the ways he was—treating each encounter with another person (virtual or actual) as a sacred, shared moment and an opportunity to interact and serve—De’s delegations of fans, friends and family members are walking, talking blessings just waiting to deploy their essences to make someone else’s day.
3.) De’s co-stars, producers, directors, writers and the multitudes of technicians whose lives he enhanced during his long career in motion pictures and television have always said what a thoughtful, helpful, tuned-in individual he was with each of them. Patient, kind, and rarely upset (and so respectful and kind when upset that Richard Arnold reported that it was hard to tell how irritated he was unless you knew him very, very well), their memories of working with De are decidedly delicious. I can’t help but believe that a measure of his personality and approach to relationships rubbed off on each of them, and that they are kinder, gentler individuals than they might otherwise be today. I know for a fact that my long association with De had a profound effect on the way I engage with others today.
All things considered, I don’t think I was off by more than a millimeter when I shared at De’s memorial service the following sentiment: “In my opinion, DeForest Kelley was the kind of man God had in mind when He created Adam. If the world was more-heavily populated with DeForest Kelley types, it would be the paradise we all wish it was.”
Kristine M. Smith is an author and freelance copywriter whose decades’-long friendship with Carolyn and DeForest Kelley changed the trajectory of her life. A greatly-enhanced edition of Kris’s 2001 Kelley title—renamed DeForest Kelley Up Close and Personal, A Harvest of Memories from the Fan Who Knew Him Best— will debut at Amazon in 2016 during Star Trek’s 50th anniversary. Email Kris at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will be available for virtual DeForest Kelley interviews throughout 2016. To book her for local or national convention appearances, use the same email address.
If you were impacted by the career, kindness, or concern of DeForest Kelley, please reach out to Kris if you haven’t already. She is compiling the second edition of her e-book, The Enduring Legacy of DeForest Kelley: Actor, Healer, Friend and would love to consider including your story in it.