Remembering DeForest Kelley

It was 10 years ago today, on June 11th 1999, that the world lost DeForest Kelley. Beloved to fans of Star Trek, westerns and more, DeForest Kelley left a legacy that will never be forgotten. Today TrekMovie remembers the man that played the irascible Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy with a collection of videos of his work.


De Kelley as McCoy psychoanalyzing Spock in "Bread and Circuses"

De Kelley as McCoy counsels Kirk in "The Corbomite Maneuver"

De Kelley in classic ‘troika’ scene in "Tholian Web"

De Kelley as McCoy in TNG pilot

De Kelley as McCoy doing 23rd century medicine n Star Trek IV

De Kelley in "Wanted Dead or Alive"
(more Kelley in Westerns here and here on YouTube)



De Kelley host tour of TNG set in 1990 for Primetime Live

De Kelley (w/ Doohan & Koenig) on Tom Snyder Show 1976
(more parts at YouTube)

De Kelley (w/ Shatner & Nimoy) at 1995 convention
(more at YouTube)

De Kelley on Shatner’s "Rocket Man"

More to Remember
Last year TrekMovie ran a memorial article on Kelley with thoughts from some of those who knew him, inlcuding Brent Spiner and Robert Justman. 

Again, from the staff of…we miss you DeForest



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What a wonderful man. I met him once in Michigan with his wife. He was a charming in person as on the screen.

Rest in peace, De. You’re missed.

I loved your work DeForest. Your soul WILL live long and prosper.

I was just telling a friend after seeing the movie…if Urban wanted to get the essence of Kelly he needed to watch some of his western work.

Love that “Bread and Circuses”. One of my favorites.

Doctor McCoy is my favorite Trek character thanks to the efforts of DeForest Kelley. I can’t believe it has been so long. Three cheers in remembrance of his contribution to Star Trek’s soul.

Love you, JD. Rest in peace.


Likewise with me, Even when as a child I was more of a fan of the Movies, Bones was still my favourite character.

Even now, I always compare a new Trek character to him (right or wrong, I do it anyway). He is, and always shall be, deeply missed.

R.I.P De

De Kelly was so good. A real class act. Anyone read his biography Sawdust to Stardust? I plan to get it soon.

It was about the same time I lost my grandfather too. The world will never be the same without these people in it, but somewhere beyond became a better place with these souls in it. R.I.P Dee and Pa Pa.

“You treat her like a lady and she’ll always bring you home”. Well said Dr. McCoy.

Really loved his line in VI when Chang is going on and on and on as he fires on the “E”, ” I’d give real money if he would just shut up!” I do think Urban will continue the Bones legacy in Kelly’s manner. Out of all the performances in Star Trek ’09 I think he nailed it the best!!

WE miss you Dee!

A good man. RIP.

I will always “Remember”.

“He’s really not dead, just as long as we remember him.”
Great man. Great Actor.

Your legacy lives on DeForest. Karl Urban made sure of that

‘he will always be alive – so long as we remember him’. McCoys words to jim kirk to TWOK. quite apt i think.
Urban does indeed fly the flag for Dee’s wonderful creation….Leonard Bones McCoy.

Greg UK

What a classy, gentle man. He was the soul of the show and we were lucky to have had him.


A few weeks ago, I read a post by someone who indicated DeForest Kelley was the worst actor in TOS. It really upset me, though I didn’t respond then but will now.

Every time I watch TOS I find something new in De’s performances. None of them had it easy, but perhaps even more than Kirk & Spock, McCoy had some of the most difficult lines for an actor to deliver believably. Much of what I took for granted as a child, I can now see with fresh eyes. The subtly of a reaction, the smoothness of a transition from humor to anger, the skillfulness of juggling technical details in the face of complex emotional scenes. I do marvel today at how well he walked that tightrope between realism and parody of himself.

If you didn’t like McCoy, then you didn’t like the writing. But Kelley’s acting was sublime. Far from the worst actor on the show, he may well have been the best. On the whole he stood his own equally with Nimoy and Shatner. Like a large Shakespearian cast, every production has its weak actors, but Kelley was a jewel in Trek’s crown. Of all the fine actors that have passed through the decks of the Enterprise, his was the most human. I never get tired of watching him on screen and I always see something fresh about his performances.

Perhaps that is ultimately what endears us to Trek, the layers of detail so thoughtfully, or instinctively woven through the fabric of the series, that each viewing reveals some new stitch, or perspective never seen before, beneath the mere sheen of the spectacle that is the show. Whether it’s the acting, or the writing, or the cinematography, or the directing, like a Russian doll, the episodes can always be opened up to reveal more each time.

So here’s to one of the finest actors to ever grace the film business. I can only thank you posthumously for providing so many hours of excellent entertainment and introspection of the human condition, beyond the mere words written for your character. McCoy is memorable because of you and that is why you will never be forgotten.

It was right after his death that I went to Star Trek: The Experience for the first time. Needless to say I was hooked on that place and still am, I can’t wait for Quarks 2.0 next year. When I got to the bar at STTE in the original menu there was a section called McCoys Martini’s. I thought what was a nice touch, I ordered a Red Shirt martini after I started with a Tranya. It was in the shops at STTE that I bought one of the tranporter figures of McCoy and a commemoritive plate which I still have. He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word, he will missed but he will always be remembered.

10 years. Wow. Seems like yesterday I heard the sad news and slipped into a serious funk for a couple days at the loss of one of my childhood heroes.

De was awesome as McCoy. A warm smile, sly wit and he conveyed great passion.

I still miss him, but I’m thankful for the 70+ eps and 6 movies where he will still lives on.


10 years, my God. I remember it like it was yesterday. 10 minutes later, 10 years later, still missed as much. McCoy will always be one of my favorites and I would have loved to see/hear what he thought of Karl Urban’s performance.

Ten years ago tonight I watched “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” and drank a 5th of burbon.

Here’s to you De!

I can only hope that people continue to be inspired by his message of good for many years to come. Great man.

Hard to believe it has been 10 years already. I true legend and a class act. I’m sure he would have been very proud of Karl Urban’s portayal in the new movie. You’ll always be remembered, DeForest.

I love that tour of the Enterprise-D video with De. A great actor and a wonderful human being. He is indeed missed, but Karl Urban will continue his legacy.

“His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him, that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, ‘This was a man!'”

The best actor of the original series hands down, and one of the most generous, kind, warm-hearted gentlemen this world could boast. Here’s looking at you, De.

If anyone has ST VI on two-disc DVD or Blu-Ray, check the tribute to De Kelley on that

Seen him in person three times. He was warm and wonderful to listen to. Thank god we have video where we can enjoy De whenever we want.

You are missed. Thank you for being a better part of my childhood and life.

Always one of my all time favorite Trek personalities. Mr. Kelley was always an extreme pleasure to watch. When the new movie came out, Karl Urban’s performance was my most anticipated. I had heard that he did a wonderful job “channeling Kelley”…and he did.

R.I.P. Mr. Kelley. You are truly a memorable man. Thank you for the memories. :-)

Rest in peace Mr. Kelley ! Thank you for so many great moment on TV as Dr. McCoy ! Here’s to you DeForest Kelley !

Dr. McCoy was, of the crew, my own personal favorite, and a lot of that was because of the sincerity and warmth of his portrayer.

It’s funny to think that, before that role, he was typecast as the villain — now, who could think of the kind if irascible ol’ country doctor being the heavy?

He is still sorely missed. And I second Montreal Paul’s sentiment that he’d have enjoyed Karl Urban’s take ont he character.

I was lucky enough to see him at a convention in 91, while on holiday in the states.
At the end we were told not to follow him, but being 14 I couldnt help myself. He looked over at me and said ‘hi’ I was so nervous I couldnt move, I think I managed to smile back.

It was an honor to exist on this Earth with DeForest Kelley for 28 years.

I read both this year’s piece on De Kelley and last year’s with all of the comments and tributes from those who worked with him throughout his career. Needless to say, they brought large quantities of tears to my eyes. Really great work Trek Movie- these tributes are beautiful.

I guess I’ll share some memories of De’s work: I haven’t been watching Trek for a long time, in fact I just started watching it this year and I’m almost through the entire series. I was a McCoy fangirl from the moment I watched “The Man-Trap” up to Karl Urban’s great performance as Bones in ST09. He is the most identifiable character on Star Trek. Not as pompous or with as much bluster as Shatner’s Kirk, and not as placid as Spock, McCoy is the missing link- sage and thoughtful when he needs to be, a little low-brow in his humor, he has his own irrational biases, a man with regrets of missed opportunities that he allowed to emerge every so often if one cannot see it in his slightly more-aged face and eyes. Of course, it could be somebody’s opinion that DeForest was the weakest link of the cast, but that’s too bad one cannot see how much he puts into making the character the most recognizably human on TOS.

Anyways, I wish I could have met De.

Cheers to you sir.

I remember his passing as if were yesterday. 10 years ago AOL had a chat room just for Star Trek and it was filled with people who were touched by the passing of this soft spoken gentleman.

Nice trip down memory lane. Thanks to Kelly for many years of TV fun while growing up.

A gentle soul indeed.

Deforest is greatly missed.

Rest in peace, Mr Kelley.

Class act all the way. Thank You, Mr. Kelley!

I miss you a lot Mr Kelly, thanks so much for enriching our lives.

Has it been that long? Seems like yesterday. I watch the original episodes and films that I own on DVD and see how a great actor he was. I never got to meet him in person, but it seems shorter than ten years ago that we lost our beloved Dr. McCoy. Karl Urban really captured Kelley well in the new film. Urban’s performance did bring back Deforest for a little while. God Bless, Deforest Kelley. Continue to Live Long and Prosper.

Deforest Kelley is one of my favourite actors and with his sad passing 10years ago a few things makes me happy to know his been immortalized on the screen forever more.

Rest in Peace Mr. Kelly. Thanks for the memories, Trek wouldn’t be the same without you.

I’m sure De looked down at Urban and said “Great Job Kid”! De, you are truly missed!!!

@29 I most certainly will watch that tonight. When I was a kid McCoy always stood out to me. As I grew up he became my favorite character in all of Trek and I consider him to be one of the top actors in ALL of Trek up there with Patrick Stewart.

I absolutely loved the way Mr. Urban played the character in the new film, and I am glad a little bit of Mr. Kelley will live on forever through these shows and films and the people they touch and inspire.

Can’t believe it’s been ten years. What a wonderful man and such a talented actor. There was a chemistry in the TOS cast that will never be duplicated. Thanks for all the great clips with this article, TrekMovie folks!