The Enduring Legacy of DeForest Kelley: Actor, Healer, Friend
DeForest Kelley was asked once how he would like to be remembered. He responded with a contrite laugh, “Well, you know, sometimes I wonder if they will remember! There’s nothing deader than a dead actor… That’s almost a question for someone else to answer.”
I will answer it. De’s fans have answered it resoundingly over the course of the past decade, since his passing in 1999, and at every convention celebrating STAR TREK since then.
To this day – and far beyond this day, I can predict with confidence – warm memories and thoughts of the actor who brought Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy to life are being held as priceless treasures in the hearts of millions of people, young and old, across the globe.
Six months after losing my mentor and friend De, while still floundering in a fog of shock and nearly numb from unexpressed, unrelenting, pervasive grief, I wrote a book called DeForest Kelley: A Harvest of Memories, My Life and Times with a Remarkable Gentleman Actor. As I worked my way through the history of our association, De came back to life and, with each passing page, I began to feel that I would be able to retain the joy and delight inherent in the vast majority of the story. I realized then what so many of us have realized since then: that it was his
life, not his death, which affected us most deeply, and which shaped many of us as personalities.
With this second volume, Kelley’s other fans, friends, and co-workers have been invited to share their unique reasons for believing that his legacy will extend far beyond those left by most actors, even though he didn’t get the amount of press other actors received in life or in death.
Good guys don’t always finish last. DeForest Kelley was always a winner -- from day one.
To all who responded, from all over the world, thank you. Each of you has a byline in this book so readers will know who you are by name. I have no doubt that each of you will gain new friends as a result of the time you spent carefully unveiling your memories of De to the rest of his fans.
Each story you shared has served to underscore a rock-solid belief that DeForest Kelley was far and away more special than the profession he inhabited. He was fundamentally a healer and a dear friend to all of us who knew him, up close or from afar. His gracious, engaging spirit reached out and embraced every individual who took even a moment to look into his eyes and heart through a television or motion picture screen or in person. He really cared, and it showed. Somehow his compassionate spirit seemed to assure us that placing our hearts and life stories into his loving care was one of the safest things we could do this side of eternity.