In the 40 year history of Star Trek, none of the television
show's actors are more beloved than DeForest Kelley. His portrayal
of Leonard "Bones" McCoy, the southern physician
aboard the Starship Enterprise, brought an unaffected
humanity to the groundbreaking space frontier series. After
years of struggle his lean, weathered look became well known
in notable westerns and television programs such as You
Are There and Bonanza. But his work on several pilots
for writer-producer Gene Roddenberry changed his destiny and
the course of cultural history...
Kelley may have been much loved for his portrayal of McCoy
in Star Trek, but the truth is, if From
Sawdust to Stardust is
to be believed, that
the man lived a very private life. So it must have been something
of a nightmare for author Terry Lee Rioux to research this
star's life story.
it would seem this was the case, as Rioux races through his
early years without lingering too long. Even when we get to
Trek, there is never that much detail on the episodes
or DeForest's relationship with the other actors. There is
no mention of Star Trek VII and whether Kelley was
asked to participate. Rumours at the time suggested he turned
Paramount down and it would have been interesting to hear
whether this was the case and why (ill health?).
time is given over to sugary tales about the Kelley's animals
- anecdotes which a million people could recount about their
own lives. In fact it was one tale in this collection that
had me worried as to the editor's qualifications and the thoroughness
of Rioux's research. Murtle is described as a turtle and a
tortoise in the same breath. Which is she? I assume it's Murtle
the turtle. It took me two minutes to research the difference
myself on the Internet. According to The Tortoise Trust the
best way to tell the difference is to examine the creatures
back legs. If they are webbed, it's a turtle. If they are
stumpy (like an elephants) it's a tortoise. So if such an
obvious mistake got through, whose to say how many other inaccuracies
litter the pages.
it was page 310 that really made me worry about how accurate
this book was:
had been a long, hard career for Kelley. No one really knew
the whole story, or ever really would.
is Rioux admitting that this book doesn't really tell the
whole story? And
then Rioux goes on to tell us things no one would ever know...
which as I've now read them at least one other person knows...
and soon a lot more will too.
loving wife, Carolyn Kelley, recently passed away (12 October
2004) and I found it a little strange that there was no mention
of this in the book - especially as it's theme is the love
story between DeForest and Carolyn.
book has many faults. There are too many romantic passages
that have simply materialised straight out of Rioux's head
- there's no way they could have come from any source. And
she has a knack for stretching what appear like unimportant
passages for pages and pages, and then skirting around things
fans want to know. For example, there is no mention of any
of the main cast of Trek when DeForest was dying (other
than William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols) did none of the
other cast know, or care? And what about his memorial?
the book's faults I have to admit to enjoying reading it.
While it is very flowery in places, the end result is satisfying.
I truly felt that I had gotten to know DeForest Kelley a little
more. The final few pages left me with a lump in my throat
- and I'm sure will leave many fans in tears.
interesting account of the life of a much underrated actor
and a very private and down to earth man.
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