Actor Jackson DeForest Kelley (1920-1999), the "dear and beloved" Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy of the original Star Trek crew, was born on this day in Atlanta, Georgia. The son of a Baptist minister, Kelley got the acting bug while still in his teens.
After a stint in the Army during World War II, he earned a starring role in the mystery drama, Fear In The Night (1947), the first of many as a character actor; he typically was cast as the "bad guy" in westerns.
He got the role of lifetime, as Dr. McCoy, in 1966. With the three-year series, its endless syndication, and subsequent six feature films, McCoy, as well as Capt. Kirk (William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), became international stars and cultural icons.
"I'm just a country doctor," Kelley, as Dr. McCoy, said on more than one occasion. But for fans, he was much more...
He was the Enterprise's chief medical officer who celebrated compassione and humanity. A bit cranky at times, especially with Spock, but always honest, the good doctor provided humor and heart to the interaction of the characters. He was the moral glue.
In addition to his Star Trek role, Kelley appeared in 35 motion pictures, including Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) and Raintree County (1957). He also appeared in 60 television shows, including Gunsmoke and Bonanza.
In tribute, writer Harlan Ellison called Kelley "a courtly man. You can call 1,400 people, and not one of them would have a bad word to say about him."
Celebrate the "dear and beloved" of your life.