Saying goodbye to DeForest Kelley is something I'm not ready for,
yet, despite his physical passing, so instead I choose to celebrate
the life of an accomplished actor, entertainer and humanitarian.
As an actor, of course, DeForest was the
Paramount Cowboy - literally and figuratively, over several decades.
His longtime associate A. C. Lyles has helped coordinate a tribute
to De to be held on the Paramount lot. We loved him, of course,
because he was Bones - lovable, ornery Bones, trusted confidant
and associate of James T. Kirk on board Starship Enterprise. I remember
the nights, so long ago now, when Dad and I sat back and let Star
Trek- the FIRST Star Trek- transport us to the future. Bones was
always a special favorite. Whether it was backing up his Captain
or picking a fight with Spock, he never disappointed. But there
was a problem. It seemed Bones would never get the girl! Spock and
Kirk especially hogged all the foxy intergalactic alien babes for
themselves. Bones got the leftovers, like Nancy, the Salt Sucker
from M 113! No justice!
the Classic Star Trek years we watched De admiringly, particularly
enjoying his contributions to the films. During this time our company,
Creation Entertainment, grew to become the major producer of Star
Trek themed events domestically. It was a heady time for us, our
love for Star Trek coinciding with the great convention push that
at its peak was drawing hundreds of thousands of people annually.
Gene Roddenberry's passing seemed like the end of an era to us,
but De's passing, too, is a major passage in our lives.
Speaking of Gene, it was a great honor to have Gene come to salute
DeForest when we put together our special tribute evening for De.
Both Gene and Bill were on hand to toast DeForest's tremendous contribution.
In retrospect I realize De was a magnet who drew people to his warmth
We coproduce the Hollywood Charity Horse Show with our stalwart
Captain Bill Shatner every April in Burbank, California. Deforest
was a frequent guest of the Horseshow. One time we brought De in
on a wagon train with flailing Clydesdale horses that tore around
the arena while De bravely stood up, waving in an oscillating motion
like a bucking bronco. Another time, he and Bill were part of a
cosmic fantasy where they helped save Earth from tough guy aliens
right inside the Equidome. To see Bill and De ham it up to benefit
kids is an intensely rewarding experience.
Then there was the time in Georgetown, De. Carolyn, Lori (my wife)
and me, enjoying margueritas with the Kelleys like they were normal
human beings. But of course they were public figures, so they had
to balance their social existence with the restraint that comes
with celebrity (for one's own sanity). What really impressed me
was how De could get us into Houstons with a whisper into the maitre
d's ear when everyone else waits one hour MINIMUM to get into that
Which brings us to the subject of Carolyn, she of the fine calligraphy
and warm heart, the constant companion over 54 years of marriage.
I have a tree that Carolyn and De gave me: It's growing strong and
tall. A reminder that the important things in life are often measured
over the long haul and the effort put in, that being good and true
to your mate lays down roots that run deep. So Carolyn will carry
on De's legacy.
I love Bill Shatner, but he used to torment poor De. Bill would
never let De go about being too old, and he used public and private
venues to mercilessly (and lovingly) play with De's head. The classic
story is the toaster at craft services during the last Trek film
where De would toast his English Muffins. De would load the toaster
with the muffins and wait joyously for the hot bread to pop out.
Shatner would have Kelley distracted so he could sneak the muffin
out of the toaster. So when De returned to the toaster and it popped
up- nothing! Of course Bill used to harass Leonard over his bicycle,
proving that to be loved by big Bill, is to be sabotaged by him!
Also of note was the Kelley's tremendous commitment to animal rights,
years before the trendy animal rights groups appeared. For over
30 years they have supported North Shore Animal League, a not for
profit animal shelter on Long Island's North Shore. One of two Kelley
memorial funds set up will benefit the League. The person to contact
if you are interested in making donations to this worthwhile cause:
Marge Stein DeForest Kelley Memorial Fund
North Shore Animal League
16 South St.
Port Washington, NY 11050
By the way, not surprisingly, DeForest was developing a Fellowship
fund at a medical school - the prestigious Harvard Medical School,
to be exact. Donations and information concerning making donations
can be directed there to:
Mr. Timothy Welch DeForest Kelley Fellowhip Fund
Harvard Medical School
25 Shattuck St. # 306 A
Boston, Ma 02115
A review of the Kelleys' impact on us would not be complete without
an acknowledgment of their extended family, which included Fancy,
their beloved dog; the giant box turtle that lived in their backyard
for years; picture perfect rose bushes; and most importantly, the
members of the DeForest Kelley Fan Club, that great bunch of folks
including Kris Smith who have looked out for the Kelleys over the
And let's not forget De's love of poetry, that late in life propelled
him into three poetry cycles: Big Bird's Dream, The Dream Goes On,
and The Dream Forever, which was a work in progress. What a thrill
it was for us to package and produce the print version of those
poems. De signed and personalized a bunch and we sold them as a
limited edition in the 80s (I think!). I had fun picking old photos
with Carolyn from De's contract days at Par for the collections.
She even did the gorgeous calligraphy for the works.
This past April, it was the week before Grand Slam. I knew things
were tenuous with De, but he didn't let on how serious his condition
had become. I get a phone call from Bill Shatner, saying "De is
very sick, in the hospital. He'll never make it to Grand Slam."
Sure enough, I called De at the hospital, and in a faint voice he
admitted that, yes, he wanted desperately to come, but no, he couldn't
do it. My heart sank, knowing that this might be the last time I
would talk to him. That turned out to be true.
He's now gone to that wagon train in the sky, and he's probably
eating baked beans with Gene Roddenberry by a campfire somewhere.
So let's all raise a glass high in the air and toast you, Jackson
DeForest Kelley. May God rest your soul. We're gonna miss you.
- Adam Malin
Over the past 30 years we've had the opportunity to present hundreds
of celebrities to the public but it is relatively easy to say that
DeForest really stood out for me.
We have all read the autobiographies of the rest of the original
series cast and know that they were a particularly dysfunctional
family group. Still, no one ever had a harsh word for De and I think,
in many respects, he was the most treasured member of the cast for
many of us.
Two special memories for me...
Some years ago we had the pleasure of presenting De, William Shatner
and Leonard Nimoy on stage together. It was to be a "royal" occasion
and fans were coming from all over to be witness to the event. I
thought it would be cool to write a skit that would introduce the
three that would play off their legendary characters and personal
I figured it was probably going to be more of fun thing for me
because there was the little matter of getting these three "biggies"
to agree to what I had wrote. Sure enough, one by one, they agreed
and the performance got the audience laughing in all the right places.
But more than the actual performance, the incident that happened
before is what touched me the most. DeForest made it a point to
seek me out and tell me that he and the others really thought the
piece was great. God, that meant an awful lot to me, and I now realize
that I was the last writer that wrote dialogue for these three legends
that were part of my childhood. To me, despite all the other casts
that followed, nothing touches the work those three did in the feature
films after all those years of the audience getting to know the
characters and actors so deeply.
One other incident that stands out about De happened when I was
hosting an appearance by him at an out of town convention and his
plane arrived a couple of hours prior to his set schedule time.
He arrived at the venue and while some other guests want to go right
on, DeForest understood that the scheduled events built to his appearance.
He took the opportunity to stroll around town and grabbed a young
Creation staffer to keep him company. This guy, new to Creation,
didn't really know anything about Star Trek or De's show biz career
and they spent the next hour talking about anything but. Despite
a 50 year age difference, the Creation staffer told me that DeForest
was just a wonderful, caring nice man. Indeed.
Oh, here's the piece that I wrote. As you can see I gave De the
EMCEE: Ladies and Gentlemen, DeForest Kelley.
KELLEY: One of the greatest things about STAR TREK is the close
friendships I've made over the past 30 years. So now, it's my great
pleasure to introduce the star of STAR TREK, a gentleman whose success
is unparalleled: an actor, writer, director. He's starred in many
TV series and films, recorded albums as a singer, and also is a
proud grandfather. Best of all, he's my closest personal friend....
SHATNER & NIMOY BOTH ENTER from opposite wings.
SHATNER: Leonard, what are you doing out here?
NIMOY: De just introduced me.
SHATNER: What are you talking about? He introduced ME! (grabs intro
speech off De's podium) See it says, "An actor...."
NIMOY SHRUGS shoulders and looks at audience
SHATNER (continuing) "...... a writer....."
NIMOY picks up his book "I AM SPOCK' off stage table and shows
SHATNER picks up a BOX of his books and shows audience.
SHATNER (continuing) ".....a director...."
SHATNER holds up FIVE FINGERS and points to them with the other
NIMOY holds up BOTH hands towards audience, one with THREE FINGERS,
one with FOUR and raises eyebrow.
SHATNER (continuing) De said "... a star of many TV series and
NIMOY: Right: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, IN SEARCH OF, A WOMAN CALLED
SHATNER: .... T.J. HOOKER, TEK WAR, RESCUE 911, AIRPLANE II....
NIMOY: You left out THE DEVIL'S RAIN.
SHATNER: Because you left out ZOMBIES OF THE STRATOSPHERE. (hold
for laugh) "... recorded albums as a singer....."?
NIMOY: Let's skip that.
SHATNER (looking at paper) ".... proud grandfather...."
SHATNER pulls out little photo out of is pocket and shows audience.
NIMOY picks up huge POSTERBOARD on stage, turns it over to reveal
a HUGE BLOW-UP of his many grandchildren!
KELLEY (incredulous) I can't believe you guys would be arguing
over this. If you don't stop, I'm going to write my book about what
really happened over all those years.
NIMOY and SHATNER put their hands over their mouths.
KELLEY: Finally, after all these years I get the last word. Ladies
and gentlemen, on behalf of my equally brilliant, equally best friends,
thank you for being with us today. - Gary