He played a true icon of science fiction television: a simple, down-home doctor who traveled to the stars, possessed an uncanny skill at needling his Vulcan compatriot, and absolutely hated the transporter. Sadly, Star Trek’s DeForest Kelley is no longer with us, having passed away in 1999 at the age of 79, but his legacy lives on. It’s a shame he didn’t live to see the 21st century, and the various ways Trek is still influencing and shaping our future. Hell, it would have been interesting to see what he thought of Karl Urban’s take on Leonard “Bones” McCoy, the role Kelley is still best known for.
Kelley had a long career stretching all the way back to the ‘40s. Prior to boarding the U.S.S. Enterprise, he worked extensively in the Westerns that were all the rage in the mid 20th century, including appearances on The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, and Rawhide, among many others. Once he took the Trek role, he continued to work in other films and TV shows, but Dr. McCoy very much became the defining factor of his later career. In addition to appearing in all the classic-cast Trek movies, he also put in a memorable appearance as an elderly now-Admiral McCoy in the pilot for Star Trek: The Next Generation. He would have turned 94 today. Here’s to you, Doc.