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DeForest Kelley: Remembering the Life and Career of the Heart of ‘Star Trek’

He started his Hollywood career as a Western villain, but being cast as Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy changed his life forever

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DeForest Kelley, 1966, 1979 and 1989

As originally conceived, Star Trek was a vehicle for actor William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, with Leonard Nimoy a co-star as Mr. Spock and DeForest Kelley in a supporting role as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. But once the audience connected with the show, the three very quickly ended up on largely equal footing, DeForest Kelley a stand out thanks to the humanity he brought to his character.

“In the beginning, I was turned down for the part by the studio, but [series creator] Gene Roddenberry wanted me for the role,” DeForest Kelley recalled to the Democrat and Chronicle in 1968. “So I signed on for it, but only for seven of the first 13 episodes. The part wasn’t supposed to be much, but I worked hard and put everything I could into it, and was very lucky. Even then I was surprised when I wound up in all the shows, and as you know, the part has grown to a pretty good level. It’s tough to get good exposure on a show with seven regular performers all hoping to do the same. But we’ve fairly well worked it out, and each of us seems to have his own set of fans.”

He was, of course, also referring to James Doohan’s Scotty, Nichelle Nichols ‘ Uhura, George Takei’s Sulu and Walter Koenig’s Chekov. And while he’s right in that the audience loved the entire ensemble of actors, the undeniable truth is that Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley (aka Kirk, Spock and McCoy) stand center stage on that show, creating a success that transcended Star Trek ‘s original 1966 to 1969 run and paving the way for all that’s followed, including 10 additional television/streaming series and 13 movies, with much more on the way.

There is no question that Star Trek and McCoy changed the life of DeForest Kelley, whose career prior to that show had been going in a far different direction.

MUST-READ : The Original ‘Star Trek’ Cast: Where They’ve Boldly Gone, Then and Now

DeForest Kelley: The Early Years

DeForest Kelly in 1946's Fear in the Night

He was born Jackson DeForest Kelley (named after electronics engineer Le de Forest) on January 20, 1920 in Atlanta, Georgia to a Baptist minister father, whose church was in Conyers, Georgia. Kelley revealed musical talent early on and frequently sang in morning church services. Originally intending to become a doctor, he gave up that idea when it became clear that the family couldn’t afford to send him to medical school, so, instead, with his mother’s encouragement, he would try out singing on local radio shows. This would lead to an engagement at the Paramount Theater in Georgia.

“She used to take me down to the radio stations and amateur shows,” he told The Atlanta Constitution in 1947. “She would make me sing, insisting, ‘You can do it!'”

DeForest Kelley in Variety Girl

In 1934, the family moved to Decatur, Georgia, where he attended Decatur Boys High School, participating on the school’s baseball and football teams while working as a drugstore delivery boy and in local theaters.

In a profile that appeared in The Los Angeles Times on June 16, 1946, they noted, “The story of DeForest Kelley is a super saga, which began when he was an elevator operator in Long Beach. Next door was the Long Beach Players Guild. Kelley went to rehearsal one day without thought of going on the stage. Someone felt he looked like Ned, a character in Holiday . He played the role and several others. William Melkejohn of Paramount saw him and became interested.”

Early publicity shot of DeForest Kelley

“Melkejohn,” they continued, “is a man who believes in ‘off’ casting — Kelley, who was an unusual type, made 12 different auditions at Paramount, but nothing happened. Then Kelley went in the service. He was assigned as a control tower operator first. Later he was transferred to the Army Film Unit in Culver City, a deal in which Melkejohn played a part.”

Added The Atlanta Journal that same year, “He appeared in a number entitled Time to Kill . The picture was directed by Will Jason, a veteran Hollywood professional, and he showed ‘rushes’ of the film to Paramount. When Kelley was discharged from the Army, a contract was awaiting him.”

As Kelley joked to the Toledo Union Journal , “I’m the one guy who had to get in the Army to become a movie actor.”

Carolyn and DeForest Kelley

In between all of this, it should be noted, while he was at the Long Beach Player’s Guild, he met actress Carolyn Dowling, who had a part in a play he was in. During a closing scene she said, “Here, take this $10 and go get married.” According to The Atlanta Journal , “He forgot to give her back her $10 and called her up later to tell her to meet him and get her money. She did, but they decided to spend it for a marriage license.” The duo were wed in 1945 and remained together until the death of DeForest Kelley.

Big and Small Screen Bad Guy

DeForest Kelley guest starring on the first season of The Lone Ranger, 1949

Westerns became an important factor in the career of DeForest Kelley. In 1949 he guest starred on The Lone Ranger (returning two additional times in different roles) and then he started portraying villainous parts in such genre films as 1957’s Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (portraying Morgan Earp, brother to Burt Lancaster’s Wyatt) and Raintree County , 1958’s The Law and Jake Wade (starring Robert Taylor and Richard Widmark), 1959’s Warlock (starring Richard Widmark and Henry Fonda, among others) and 1963’s Gunfight at Comanche Creek (starring Audrey Murphy).

DeForest Kelley and the cast of Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 1957

The list went on from there, to include 1965’s Black Spurs, Town Tamer and Apache Uprising , and 1966’s Johnny Reno and Waco . He didn’t shy away from Westerns on television, appearing in episodes of Gunsmoke (1956), four episodes, in different roles, of Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre (1956 to 1960), The Adventures of Jim Bowie and Boots and Saddles (both 1957), four episodes of Trackdown (1957 to 1959), The Rough Riders (1958) and Tales of Wells Fargo (1961),

(If you enjoy Westerns, check out our in depth look at Have Gun Will Travel star Richard Boone )

DeForest Kelley and cast members from 1959's Warlock

The first attempt of DeForest Kelley to star in his own series was in the form of 1960’s 333 Montgomery , a TV pilot featuring him as Jake Brittin, a San Francisco defense attorney who takes on seemingly impossible cases, starting with a man accused of murder. The intended show was based on the career of real-life attorney Jake Ehrlich. Of the show a publicist said, “ 333 Montgomery will not be a crime, detective, mystery or courtroom series. Although it will involve all these areas, the focus is on the man.”

The concept didn’t go to series, the pilot airing as an episode of Alcoa Theatre on June 13, 1960. Historically significant about this show is the fact that it was written by Gene Roddenberry, who the actor credits for seeing beyond his frequent role as a Western baddie.

“This concept was before The Defenders and it was controversial in nature and ahead of its time,” said Kelley. “Roddenberry wrote it and produced it, and I starred in it. Unfortunately, it did not sell, but that was really the first pull out of Westerns for me, and then later, of course, Gene did Star Trek .”

DeForest Kelley and Star Trek

Spock and McCoy, 1966

The first episode of Star Trek to be filmed was the 1964 pilot “The Cage,” which featured Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike and Leonard Nimoy as Vulcan science officer Mr. Spock. Cast as Enterprise chief medical officer Philip Boyce was actor John Hoyt, despite Roddenberry’s desire that Kelley play the part.

“I’m not really proud of this,” admits the pilot’s director, Robert Butler, “but as I was casting the doctor, I was against DeForest Kelley being cast, who was the person Gene Roddenberry wanted. As a younger guy I guess I felt that he was somewhat more of a heavy. I remember thinking that he was somewhat earthbound. Maybe I thought his youth at the time defied reality somewhat, whereas if we got a seasoned veteran in there, that might bring us a great spread of reality in your main people. I remember Gene stood up for DeForest to the end, but ultimately he backed me and went with John Hoyt.”

MUST-READ : My Lunch With Kate Mulgrew: Owning the Havok She Wreaked On the ‘Star Trek’ Set

DeForest Kelley as McCoy and Ricardo Montalban as Khan in

Reflects Star Trek ‘s first story editor, John D.F. Black, “DeForest Kelley was as experienced an actor as you could ask for. He had gone from juvenile to young leading man and there he was on Star Trek with an enormous amount of training. He had his character in hand, although it changed slightly during the first five or six episodes, where he became a tad more earnest. The conflict built in between Spock and him was electric.”

Adds Kelley, “The character was laid out by Roddenberry, of course, and there was a guide that went into a good deal of detail about each character. But I remember having long discussions with Gene about McCoy. One thing we had both arrived at, and which was indicated in the breakdown, was that McCoy was supposed to be something of a future-style H.L. Mencken . So I went to the library and read about him and tried to work some of the more personal writing about Mencken into the characterization of McCoy.”

The character, he felt, really took shape about six or seven episodes in, but evolved from its original conception where he was supposed to be the least military of anyone, wearing oversized sweaters and things of that nature.

“We never got to that part about the way he dressed,” Kelley says. “In addition to that sardonic-type wit, I tried to inject as much warmth as I could give to him at the proper times, and also a sense of great caring. Bill and Leonard being the fine actors they are, there seemed to be a certain chemistry that fell into place among us. It all came together and each of us had, in the beginning of Trek , this feeling of unity, of trying to make it as fine a show as possible.”

One of the most interesting dynamics to emerge from the original Star Trek was the back-and-forth between McCoy and Spock. “The Spock-McCoy situation is a thing that started with a very small moment,” he reflects. “It was just a line that he threw at me and I, in turn, threw the line back in a certain manner. Nobody thought much about it at the time. But when it hit the screen, it created an uproar. So they started to build on it and put more of that in. We all gave a great deal of input to our characters, but Gene Roddenberry laid them out for us in the beginning and tried to keep us on track.”

Well, it worked, with the actor becoming an integral part of Star Trek , connecting with the audience in a major way. Mark A. Altman, co-host of the popular Star Trek podcast Inglorious Treksperts , and showrunner of the upcoming TV series Deathlands , points out, “There may have been a lot of vitriol between the cast of the original series, but none of that was ever directed at DeForest Kelley. He was universally beloved by his fellow cast mates and got along with everyone. He was also someone that the fans adored and it’s not hard to see why; he loved his fans.”

Kirk and McCoy on the original 'Star Trek'

And that mutual love played no small role in the fact that beginning with Season 2, he found that his billing on the show had changed. “DeForest Kelly was almost like a neglected stepchild on Star Trek ,” points out pop culture historian Geoffrey Mark. “NBC and Desilu promoted Bill Shatner and Leonard Nimoy because their parts were larger, and because the press was having a field day with how sexy and romantic they were to audiences at home. But DeForest was often the heart of the show, Dr. McCoy was the lead character who was allowed to show emotion, and sometimes be both the heart and the conscience of the show. It was a just move that he was given billing at the top of the show after the first season.”

Keep on Trekkin’

Star Trek , of course, ended its network run in 1969 and that was presumed to be that. Until the show went into syndication — meaning that it was rerun by independent stations around the country — and it became an absolute phenomenon. At the same time, like his co-stars, DeForest Kelley found himself the victim of typecasting, but unlike the others, he chose to retire rather than fight to get people to hire him.

“More than Shatner or Nimoy, DeForest Kelley knew early what he had,” suggests Altman. “Unlike the two of them, who were at the beginning of long careers, Kelley was older and his career was coming to an end. After so many years of playing mostly villains, the role of the curmudgeonly country doctor was something truly special and that was validated by the embrace of fans worldwide.

Night of the Lepus, 1972

“Ultimately,” he elaborates, “after the end of Star Trek , realizing the material would never be as good as what he was given on the show ( Night of the Lepus , an awful film about killer bunnies, would be his last non- Trek project), he quietly left the stage, only appearing every few years in Trek films. This would be his swan song on the silver screen with the exception of a brief and moving cameo in The Next Generation premiere he did as a favor for Gene Roddenberry, with whom he had always remained close.”

Kelley noted to the media, “The stuff offered to me after the series ended was crap, and I thought, ‘I’ve done so much crap, I don’t need to do that again.’ Fortunately, I learned a long time ago in this business that when you make some money, you had better put a little bit of it aside. I’m not talking about living in Bel Air; I’m talking about living a nice normal life.”

“I thought Star Trek had stopped feeding me at the end of three years,” he added to the online Eye on Movies . “Most people are under the impression that we received and are still receiving residuals from the show, which we are not. See, they ceased. That was before residuals were given to actors in perpetuity. So we just thought it was a show that had sadly gone, and then there was this rebirth.”

That rebirth would include the rise of Star Trek conventions, from which DeForest Kelley would pull in about $50,000 (the equivalent of $240,000 today) a year and revivals in the form of the 1973 to 1974 Saturday morning animated version of the show, 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture , 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan , 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock , 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home , 1989’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country .

MUST-READ: The ‘Star Trek Voyager’ Cast Then and Now, Sharing What They Thought of Their Characters (EXCLUSIVE)

Beyond that, director J.J. Abrams would relaunch the franchise on the big screen in 2009 with a new cast portraying the classic characters, including Chris Pine as Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock and Karl Urban as McCoy. “Karl Urban’s McCoy,” says Altman, “is a love letter to Kelley. It’s a warm embrace of the iconic character DeForest created and reflects Urban’s deep passion for the franchise.”

In 1991, DeForest Kelley was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and, in 1999, a Golden Boot award for his contributions to the Western genre on both the big screen and the small. As noted, he and wife Carolyn were together until the end, which came for him on June 11, 1999, at age 79, of stomach cancer.

One interesting observation: DeForest Kelley seemed to be amused at the way the critics would respond to each subsequent Star Trek film, increasingly focusing on the fact that the cast was getting older.

“We don’t care about a critic’s review,” Kelley said. “We only hope that it pleases you. They’ve critiqued our bellies, our wrinkles and our hair, but we just keep going. We don’t care. I don’t suppose they’ve ever been told that all of us are growing old. It seems to me, the thing worth knowing is to simply try to keep on growing.”

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Karl Urban

Who Is Karl Urban?

Born in New Zealand in 1972, Karl Urban started starring in stage, TV and film productions in his home country. Introduced to American audiences in the series 'Hercules' (1996-98) and 'Xena' (1996-2001), he enjoyed new opportunities after joining The Lord of the Rings installments The Two Towers (2002) and Return of the King (2003). Following a string of action-heavy parts in films like The Bourne Supremacy (2004), the actor capably filled the shoes of Leonard "Bones" McCoy in Star Trek (2009) and its sequels and delivered a winning comedic performance in Thor: Ragnarok (2017). Beginning in 2019, Urban drew praise for leading the charge of vigilantes in Amazon Prime's dark comedy superhero series 'The Boys.'

How Old Is Karl Urban?

Karl-Heinz Urban was born on June 7, 1972, in Wellington, New Zealand, to immigrant German parents.

Early Years

While he was reportedly pressured to follow his father into the leather-goods manufacturing business, Urban instead was drawn to the profession of his mother, whom worked at a film production and equipment rental company.

From his first, brief television appearance at age eight, Urban began writing his own plays and took part in school theater productions. Enjoying a taste of professional success upon graduating from Wellington College in 1990, he soon dropped out of Victoria University to pursue an acting career full-time.

What Is Karl Urban Known For?

'Shortland Street'

Along with parts in various stage productions, Urban began his career in New Zealand with a recurring role in the police drama 'Shark in the Park' (1990) and appeared in the war film Chunuk Bair (1992). In 1994, he broke ground on 'Shortland Street' as Jamie Forrest, the first openly gay character in the popular soap opera's history, before showing off his equestrian skills in 'Riding High ' (1995-96).

'Hercules,' 'Xena'

Urban first became known to American audiences in the mid-1990s via his multiple roles , including the love god Cupid and Roman dictator Julius Caesar, in the fantasy series 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys' and its spinoff 'Xena: Warrior Princess.' Meanwhile, his big-screen career was also building steam, as he garnered best supporting actor nominations at the New Zealand Film Awards for his work in the dysfunctional-family dramedy Via Satellite (1998) and the romantic fantasy The Price of Milk (2000).

'The Lord of the Rings'

Urban's performance in The Price of Milk also caught the attention of director Peter Jackson , who cast the rising actor in The Lord of the Rings ’ second and third installments, The Two Towers (2002) and Return of the King (2003). Although his part of the warrior Éomer was fairly minor in an epic filled with A-list stars and stunning special effects, Urban nevertheless made his presence felt with his physicality and fierce glare.

'The Chronicles of Riddick,' 'The Bourne Supremacy,' 'Doom'

The mega-success of The Lord of the Rings paved the way for a slew of action roles for Urban: He stared down Vin Diesel as Commander Vaako in The Chronicles of Riddick (2004); stalked Matt Damon as a Russian assassin in The Bourne Supremacy ; and gunned down mutants alongside Dwayne Johnson in the video game-inspired Doom (2005). Following a return to his home country to star in Out of the Blue (2006), about a mass shooting in a small New Zealand community, Urban resumed his Hollywood career as the lead of the Viking-era Pathfinder (2007).

'Star Trek'

Urban's career took another defining turn when he played Leonard "Bones" McCoy alongside Chris Pine 's James Kirk and Zachary Quinto 's Spock in a reboot of Star Trek (2009). Along with winning over the members of a devoted fan base, Urban's performance showcased a sense of humor that was largely unknown to those who'd witnessed his previous fare.

"I have no doubt that some people perceived me as just being simply an action guy, but playing 'Bones' went a long way toward convincing them otherwise," he told Tulsa World in 2010. "I can judge that by the number of offers and how often the phone rings since Star Trek came out."

Urban went on to reprise the character for the film sequels Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) and Star Trek Beyond (2016).

'Red,' 'Priest,' 'Dredd'

Part of a star-studded cast assembled for the action-comedy Red (2010), Urban wound up taking his during an extended fight sequence with Bruce Willis , though the pain was offset by the film's critical and commercial success. However, his two follow-up roles, as a vampire hunter in Priest (2011) and as the titular justice-dispensing judge of Dredd (2012), both failed to make a significant impact at the box office. Similarly, Urban's return to television in 2013 as the lead of the futuristic crime drama 'Almost Human' fizzled out after one season despite strong early ratings.

'Thor: Ragnarok'

Following the family films Walking with Dinosaurs (2013) and Pete's Dragon (2016), Urban delivered another fan-favorite performance in Thor: Ragnarok (2017) as Skurge , the weary guard forced into servicing Cate Blanchett 's bloodthirsty Hela. He then appeared in supporting roles in Acts of Vengeance (2017) with Antonio Banderas , and The Hangman (2017), with Al Pacino , before taking the lead in the gritty crime thriller Bent (2018).

Once again diving into comic/graphic novel-inspired property, in 2019 Urban landed the role of vigilante Billy Butcher in Amazon Primes's subversive superhero series 'The Boys.' While part of an ensemble cast, Urban emerged as a clear standout thanks to his cutting one-liners and butt-kicking prowess, his performance helping to drive the popularity of the show through multiple seasons.

Wife and Children

Urban has two sons, Hunter and Indiana, with his ex-wife, makeup artist Natalie Wihongi. The two announced their separation in 2014 following a decade of marriage.

Charities and Personal Life

Urban has been involved with KidsCan, a New Zealand-based charity that assists children mired in poverty. In 2022, he was named a UNICEF ambassador for his native country.

The actor has resisted the urge to plant roots in Hollywood, preferring to make the long flight from his New Zealand home when it comes time for a film or TV project. He enjoys a variety of outdoor activities between shoots, especially fishing and surfing.

Is Karl Urban Related to Keith Urban?

The two celebrities are not related, although the shared last name and birth country has prompted questions about family ties and occasionally a case of mistaken identity: According to Karl Urban, a foreign newspaper once incorrectly reported that he, not the country-music singer Keith Urban, had married actress Nicole Kidman.


  • Name: Karl Urban
  • Birth Year: 1972
  • Birth date: June 7, 1972
  • Birth City: Wellington
  • Birth Country: New Zealand
  • Best Known For: New Zealand-born actor Karl Urban won over audiences with his roles in 'The Lord of the Rings,' 'Star Trek' and 'Thor: Ragnarok' before emerging as a star of the popular Amazon Prime series 'The Boys.'
  • Astrological Sign: Gemini
  • Wellington College
  • Occupations

We strive for accuracy and fairness.If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us !


  • Article Title: Karl Urban Biography
  • Author: Editors
  • Website Name: The website
  • Url:
  • Access Date:
  • Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
  • Last Updated: July 11, 2022
  • Original Published Date: July 11, 2022
  • To me, that's the most important thing in life: building a solid connection with people and having a great time doing the thing that you really love.
  • Often people say, 'Wow you are really lucky, look at your career.' To which I respond, 'It's funny, the harder I work, the luckier I seem to get.'
  • If I had a dollar for every time I heard that another 'Star Trek' movie was happening, I'd be mortgage-free.

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DeForest Kelley, Actor Beloved as Dr. McCoy on ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 79

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DeForest Kelley, who played the irascible but wise Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the “Star Trek” television series and movies, died Friday at the Motion Picture and Television Fund Hospital in Woodland Hills. He was 79.

Kelley entered the convalescent home three months ago and died after a lingering illness, said A.C. Lyles, a longtime producer at Paramount Studios, where the original series was shot. Kelley’s wife of 55 years, Carolyn, who was recuperating from a broken leg in the home, was by his side when he died.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. June 18, 1999 For the Record Los Angeles Times Friday June 18, 1999 Home Edition Part A Page 30 Metro Desk 4 inches; 123 words Type of Material: Correction Kelley movies--In Saturday’s Times, the obituary of DeForest Kelley, the actor who played Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the “Star Trek” television series and movies, incorrectly stated that Kelley appeared in all of the first seven “Star Trek” movies. He did not appear in the 1994 release “Star Trek: Generations.” Also, the story stated that the original series was produced at Paramount. The production originated at the old Desilu studio, shifting to Paramount after Gulf & Western, then the parent company of Paramount, bought Desilu in 1967. Of the first seven “Star Trek” movies, the most successful was the first, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” which grossed $138.8 million worldwide, according to Exhibitor Relations Co., which tracks box-office receipts. The story also gave an incorrect year for the film “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral,” which was released in 1957.

Kelley was a supporting actor on film, stage and television for 20 years before landing his distinctive role on what would become a cult science fiction series.

“Star Trek,” which aired on NBC from 1966 to 1969, was director Gene Roddenberry’s saga of the star ship Enterprise, a 23rd century spacecraft with a mission to study unexplored worlds and transport supplies to Earth colonies in space.

On the Enterprise’s motley crew, Kelley was the resident surgeon, diagnostician and humanist, the perfect foil for the coldly logical Mr. Spock played by Leonard Nimoy and the macho Capt. James Kirk played by William Shatner.

“He was one of a kind, a great friend and a very important part of a collection of personalities,” Nimoy said Friday. “He had the humanist point of view in the show. It fit him very well. He brought a decency and sensibility that made you want to have him around.”

The son of a Baptist minister, Kelley was born in 1920 in Atlanta, where he sang in the church choir. He left Atlanta after high school to visit an uncle in Long Beach, and joined a theater group.

In the mid-1940s he was discovered by a Paramount talent scout who saw him in a Navy training film. The scout offered him a screen test and later a contract. He made his film debut as a man who may have committed murder while under hypnosis in a 1947 film noir called “Fear in the Night,” which showcased Kelley’s distinctive arched eyebrows and occasional wild-eyed expressions.

He appeared in several more films before moving to New York, where he worked in theater and in early television anthology dramas such as “Schlitz Playhouse of Stars.”

He returned to Hollywood in 1955 to resume his film work, appearing in director Sam Fuller’s “House of Bamboo” and “Tension at Table Rock.” He had a slight Southern drawl and a weathered face that he parlayed into roles as ranchers, town folk and minor villains in westerns such as “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” in 1956.

In 1960 he landed more television roles, including the lead in a pilot written and produced by Roddenberry. Although Roddenberry later cast another actor, Edmond O’Brien, in the series “Sam Benedict,” he did not forget about Kelley.

Kelley was not a fan of science fiction. But when Roddenberry invited him to a screening of the original pilot for “Star Trek,” which starred Jeffrey Hunter, he did not turn him down.

After the screening, Roddenberry said: “Well, cowboy, what did you think?” Kelley replied: “Gene, that will be the biggest hit or the biggest miss ever.”

Over lunch in the studio commissary, Roddenberry offered him a choice of two roles, one of which he described as “this green-painted alien.”

Kelley chose the other role. “I’m glad it turned out that way,” he told the Chicago Tribune some years ago, “because I wouldn’t have been anywhere near Leonard [Nimoy]. He’s been marvelous.”

Although his character often clashed with Nimoy’s character, the two were united in loyalty to Shatner’s Kirk. He was often beamed down to hostile spots in the galaxy along with the other members of the show’s trinity, but was most at home in the high-tech dispensary aboard the Enterprise.

McCoy’s sarcasm endeared him to fans. “Did you see the love light in Spock’s eyes? The right computer finally came along,” McCoy said in an episode called “The Ultimate Computer,” in which the Enterprise tests a computer designed to run the ship without a crew. Kelley stalwarts loved his trademark lines: “I’m just a country doctor,” uttered when he was faced with some ghastly outer-space malady, and, “He’s dead, Jim.”

Few could have predicted the extraordinary longevity of the “Star Trek” craze. The original series, premiering on Sept. 8, 1966, was a ratings failure. It routinely lost in its time period. At its peak in 1966-67, it still ranked 52nd among all series. NBC canceled the show in 1969.

But a legion of “Star Trek” fanatics lobbied fiercely to return the program to network television. It achieved cult status in the 1970s and succeeded in reruns. Annual “Star Trek” conventions were held in the United States and abroad. An animated version ran on NBC from 1973 to 1975, with original cast members, including Kelley, supplying the voices.

Kelley developed his own loyal following over the years, welcomed by “Trekkies” at confabs around the world.

In 1989, the year Paramount released “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier,” he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

He reprised the role of McCoy in all seven “Star Trek” movies made with Shatner and Nimoy, beginning with “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” in 1979 and ending with “Star Trek: Generations” in 1994.

(A new generation of Enterprise officers was featured in the 1996 release “Star Trek: First Contact,” which starred Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes.)

Most of the movies were roundly panned, and the endless sequels became targets for late-night television show jokes. The last in the series fared best at the box office, grossing $70 million.

After a while, Kelley came to dread the critics’ words.

“The one thing I always dread about critics’ reviews of the ‘Star Trek’ movies is they first review us,” Kelley said in 1991, when “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” was released. “We’ve heard it a hundred times, that Bill’s getting fat and I’m looking like death.” At the time, Kelley was 71, Shatner and Nimoy both 60.

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mccoy star trek actor

Elaine Woo is a Los Angeles native who has written for her hometown paper since 1983. She covered public education and filled a variety of editing assignments before joining “the dead beat” – news obituaries – where she has produced artful pieces on celebrated local, national and international figures, including Norman Mailer, Julia Child and Rosa Parks. She left The Times in 2015.

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DeForest Kelley

DeForest Kelley

  • Born January 20 , 1920 · Toccoa, Georgia, USA
  • Died June 11 , 1999 · Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA (stomach cancer)
  • Birth name Jackson DeForest Kelley
  • Height 5′ 10½″ (1.79 m)
  • Jackson DeForest Kelley was born on January 20, 1920 in Toccoa, Georgia, to Clora (Casey) and Ernest David Kelley. He graduated from high school at age 16 and went on to sing at the Baptist church where his father was a minister. At age 17, he made his first trip outside the state to visit an uncle in Long Beach, California. He intended to stay for two weeks but ended up staying a year. Upon returning home, he told his parents he was moving to California to become an actor. His mother encouraged him but the idea did not go over well with his father. In California, Kelley was spotted by a Paramount talent scout while working on a United States Navy training film. He became a reliable character actor (often in Westerns in which he often played the villain), but hit the big time when he was offered the role of the somewhat irascible Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy on the television series Star Trek (1966) . He later reprised his role for a string of successful Star Trek films: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) , Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) , Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) , Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) , Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) , and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) . DeForest Kelley died at age 79 of stomach cancer in his home in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles on June 11, 1999. - IMDb Mini Biography By: Sarah Kilroy <[email protected]>
  • Spouse Carolyn Dowling (September 7, 1945 - June 11, 1999) (his death)
  • Children No Children
  • Parents Ernest David Kelley Clora Kelley
  • Relatives Calvert DeForest (Cousin) Bebe Daniels (Cousin)
  • Catchphrase: "I'm a Doctor, not a..." said whenever McCoy was forced to do something he was unfamiliar with.
  • Catchphrase: "It's worse than that, he's dead, Jim!" (When Captain Kirk inquired as to the health status of a being or patient who was in bad shape)
  • Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy on Star Trek (1966) and six of the Star Trek films
  • Gruff voice with southern accent
  • He was the most well-liked of the Star Trek (1966) cast and the only one that no one had a feud with at any point.
  • Inspired many fans to take up medicine. He and his wife received an invitation to attend the graduation ceremony from medical school of one of them. They attended.
  • The tagline "I'm a doctor, not a..." has been quoted in almost every incarnation of Star Trek (1966) on film and television.
  • Was the only cast member from the original Star Trek (1966) series never to write an autobiography.
  • He was an extremely low-key and private individual who preferred not to seek leading roles and not to be involved in the Hollywood lifestyle.
  • [on why he chose to play Dr. McCoy instead of Mr. Spock on Star Trek (1966) ] I wouldn't have been anywhere near Leonard Nimoy . He's marvelous.
  • [on his life] I'd wanted to become a doctor and couldn't - yet became the best known doctor in the galaxy.
  • [on the Star Trek (1966) fans] They're the most devoted group of people and contrary to what people think, they don't have antennae coming out of their heads.
  • I'm very grateful for the career that I've had. And I'm very grateful for the experiences that Star Trek has afforded me along with my past background. When I look back and think how fortunate I've been to work with some wonderful people and had some marvelous experiences, then I can look at Star Trek and think it's almost like the cream on the coffee. I don't approach it as anything but a magnificent plus.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed those years. I liked Westerns for two reasons: First, it took the actor outside. They were all very physical at that time and not limited to a stage. Second, they paid my rent an awful lot.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) - $1,000,000

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Every Time Star Trek's Dr. McCoy Said “I’m A Doctor, Not A…”

  • Bones McCoy's catchphrase, "I'm a doctor, not a [...]", adds humor and depth to his character across multiple tense and emotional situations.
  • McCoy's role as an accomplished Chief Medical Officer and counselor contributed significantly to the depth and dynamics of the original USS Enterprise crew.
  • McCoy's catchphrase has endured, influencing other series and movies throughout the Star Trek franchise.

DeForest Kelley starred as the acerbic and soulful Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in Star Trek: The Original Series , charming audiences with his big heart, affectionate insults, and adaptable catchphrases. A Starfleet Lt. Commander, Dr. McCoy found a treasured place of prominence at the fandom’s core, serving as Chief Medical Officer on the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner). Close friends with Kirk and Science Officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), with whom he also shared an affectionate rivalry based largely on wordplay and insults, McCoy formed part of the TOS command triumvirate and brought a rich sense of emotional depth and maturity to Spock’s analytical, half-Vulcan/half-human logic and Kirk’s warm-hearted, passionate, and magnanimous soul.

McCoy’s adventures on the Enterprise led him to many meaningful moments, discoveries, and personal achievements. Very accomplished in his field, McCoy was proud of his hands-on, self-fashioned country doctor persona, tempering his charm with a grumpy yet approachable countenance. Also serving as an unofficial counselor, McCoy regularly observed and lent support to Captain Kirk and the Star Trek: The Original Series USS Enterprise crew . Fond of metaphor (to Kirk and Spock’s occasional exasperation), McCoy originated a widely recognized catchphrase that declared himself a doctor, dammit, not a something else ! While the phrase is most commonly associated with Star Trek ’s original McCoy, it’s an expression that has influenced and resurfaced across the franchise’s other works . Though this list is not exhaustive, here’s every time McCoy said “ I’m a doctor, not a […]”, and 4 times it was said by somebody else.

How To Watch All Star Trek TV Shows In Timeline Order

Star trek: the original series, season 1, episode 2 - "the corbomite maneuver", "what am i, a doctor or a moon shuttle conductor".

While Captain Kirk undergoes a quarterly physical in the ship’s Sickbay , the USS Enterprise encounters an unidentified cubical object during a routine star mapping assignment. With the object blocking the ship’s path and the Enterprise unable to maneuver around it, Spock instructs Lt. Hikaru Sulu (George Takei) to sound the alert and call Captain Kirk to the bridge.

In Sickbay, McCoy spots the alert but fails to draw Kirk’s attention to it in favor of completing the almost-finished medical exam. When Kirk spots the flashing light a few moments later, he immediately calls out McCoy’s lack of proper action, contacts Spock for more information, and leaves for the Bridge. Left alone, McCoy dryly responds to the mild criticism with “ What am I, a doctor or a moon shuttle conductor? If I jumped every time a red light came on around here, I’d end up talking to myself. ” It’s a light, amusing moment that subtly develops both characters and their personal-professional relationship.

Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 1, Episode 25 - "The Devil in the Dark"

“i’m a doctor, not a bricklayer.”.

The USS Enterprise arrives at Janus VI to investigate an unidentified, deadly lifeform that is wreaking havoc on the workers and machinery at a mining operation. Spock theorizes that the creature is a silicon-based lifeform, not dissimilar in makeup to fibrous asbestos . Kirk seems to reach a tentative, peaceful understanding with the creature, following a cave-in while searching for the mysterious lifeform. Spock initiates a mind meld to attempt communication and learns that the creature – called a Horta – is generally peaceful and in extreme pain from an earlier phaser wound injury.

An interesting and admired episode, demonstrating Star Trek 's respectable intent to seek out new life, to aid and befriend it, and boldly go.

Called to aid the Horta, McCoy’s scans reveal it to be “ virtually made out of stone .” Despite declaring himself “ a doctor, not a bricklayer ,” unknowingly agreeing with Spock’s assessment that McCoy’s medical expertise will be useless, McCoy is nonetheless instructed to help his patient. In communication with the Enterprise, McCoy slathers the Horta’s wound with silicon-based thermal concrete and proudly indicates that he expects a full recovery. It’s an interesting and admired episode, demonstrating Star Trek ’s respectable intent to seek out new life , to aid and befriend it, and boldly go.

Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 1, Episode 28 - "The City On The Edge Of Forever"

“i’m a surgeon, not a psychiatrist.”.

Dr. McCoy accidentally overdoses on cordrazine and, hysterical, transports himself to the surface of a nearby planet, the center of the violent time disruptions affecting the Enterprise. Beaming down, an away team searching for McCoy locates an unusual time portal - the Guardian of Forever . Believing himself again in danger, McCoy jumps into an unspecified past and instantly collapses time. Realizing they must follow McCoy and undo what he changed, Kirk and Spock are transported to 1930s New York, where they meet Edith Keeler (Joan Collins) and quickly find work and shelter at the 21st Street Mission.

"The City on the Edge of Forever" explores themes of love and sacrifice.

When McCoy arrives, Keeler protects him and slowly nurses him back to health. She tells McCoy she has a friend who speaks about Earth as he does. McCoy responds, "I'm a surgeon, not a psychiatrist ," but the sad irony is that Keeler's young friend is Captain James T. Kirk , in search of Dr. McCoy. The moment foreshadows the later tragedy - what McCoy had changed was preventing Edith Keeler's death. Having fallen in love with her, Kirk must undo McCoy's act and let her die. "The City on the Edge of Forever" explores themes of love and sacrifice, and is rightly regarded as one of Star Trek 's best episodes.

Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 2, Episode 4 - "Mirror, Mirror"

"i'm a doctor, not an engineer.".

When an ion storm interferes with a transporter beam to the ship through a power surge in the transporter’s circuits, the USS Enterprise away team becomes trapped in a deadly parallel Mirror Universe with a vicious crew and a Spock with a beard. Stuck in a brutal and savage similar Enterprise , Kirk and the away team find themselves subject to potential torture, atrocity, and assassination.

Later theorizing about artificially reversing the transportation conditions to engineer a return to their own reality, Kirk and Scotty (James Doohan) hatch a plan for the team to escape. Pointing out that the plan would result in the evil universe’s Security Chief Hikaru Sulu being alerted, the USS Enterprise’s Chief Engineer says that he’ll need assistance but refuses Kirk’s silent volunteering by reasoning that he’d be too conspicuous. Both Kirk and Scott turn to McCoy, who points out that he’s “ a doctor, not an engineer ,” to which Scott responds, “ Now, you’re an engineer. ”

Star Trek: The Mirror Universe's History Explained

Star trek: the original series, season 2, episode 6 - "the doomsday machine", "i'm a doctor, not a mechanic.".

The USS Enterprise crew finds a distress signal from a devastated USS Constellation at the end of a trail of destroyed planets. Investigating the wrecked starship, Captain Kirk and his landing party find Commodore Matt Decker (William Windom) alone – the sole survivor of an encounter with a giant, planet-killing machine. Theorizing that the machine is an ancient, alien doomsday device, Kirk asks Dr. McCoy if he’d ever heard of one. The irascible medical officer uses his expressive catchphrase to answer negatively, “ I’m a doctor, not a mechanic .”

The catchphrase's inclusion here works effortlessly to develop the characters and contrast the stark nature of the scene's realizations.

It’s an insignificant moment beyond the horror in the wake of the machine’s engagements , but the catchphrase’s inclusion here works effortlessly to effectively develop the characters and contrast the stark nature of the scene's realizations. McCoy accompanies Decker back to the Enterprise, leading to a run of further tense and self-sacrificial attempts to destroy the doomsday machine.

Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 2, Episode 11 - "Friday's Child"

"i'm a doctor, not an escalator.".

A USS Enterprise away team visits Capella IV to arrange for Starfleet mining rights to the planet’s rich topaline minerals. Negotiating with Akaar, the Teer of the Ten Tribes, Captain Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy attempt to carefully navigate the Capellan’s complex taboos and volatile culture. Interrupted by the revelation of a rival negotiating party, the Klingons, the negotiations are soon overthrown by a developing coup. Maab (Michael Dante), a warrior in league with the Klingons, assassinates Akaar and declares himself the new Teer.

By cultural tradition, the life of Akaar’s heavily pregnant wife becomes forfeit. When Kirk attempts to prevent this execution, he inadvertently touches Eleen (Julie Newmar) – a forbidden act – and subsequently receives his own death sentence. Escaping to nearby foothills, Eleen allows McCoy to assist her in climbing the rocky outcrops. Struggling, McCoy requests assistance from Spock. When Eleen objects, McCoy declares himself “ a doctor, not an escalator ” and again calls for Spock’s assistance. Later proving his assertion, McCoy aids Eleen when she goes into labor and births her child. The baby is named Leonard James Akaar, after Dr. McCoy and Captain Kirk.

Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 2, Episode 11 - "The Deadly Years"

"i'm not a magician, spock, just an old country doctor.".

A rapid aging disease levels the USS Enterprise landing party when they visit an experimental colony on Gamma Hydra IV on a routine resupply mission. As the crew struggles to understand and treat the mysterious illness and save their senior officers, Commodore Stocker (Charles Drake) renders imminent mortal peril when his urgency to reach Starbase 10 results in attacks on the Enterprise following a violation of the Romulan Neutral Zone .

Physically and visually aged and suffering from the effects of the aging disease, Spock queries an equally affected Dr. Leonard McCoy whether he can reduce Spock’s increased sensitivity to cold. McCoy shakes his head and informs the First Officer, “ I’m not a magician, Spock, just an old country doctor ,” and Spock takes the opportunity to add, “ Yes, as I always suspected .” It’s an interesting, somewhat bittersweet moment as the two mildly engage in their characteristic banter but with a level of obvious friendly affection and lack of energy that starkly contrasts their usual exchanges.

Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 3, Episode 12 - "The Empath"

"i'm a doctor, not a coal miner.".

Assigned to evacuate a research station on Minara II, Captain Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy are mysteriously transported below the planet’s surface for a series of manipulative experiments. Finding a timid and mute empath (Kathryn Hays), later named Gem by McCoy, Kirk and his friends embark on a challenging experience that threatens their survival and is designed to test Gem’s active morality. Experiencing torture and potential emotional devastation, the Enterprise officers must find an escape and help Gem.

It's a sad and striking moment that escalates to McCoy sacrificing himself to ensure his friends' survival.

Aesthetically creative, this disturbing episode was initially banned in the UK. Dramatic lighting and visuals are employed to highlight the narrative and draw attention to the perils facing the iconic Enterprise officers. In contemplating the circumstances, Spock notes their underground location and comments that some miners spend years below ground. McCoy points out that “ he’s a doctor, not a coal miner .” As a weakened Kirk moves away from the conversation, having undergone torturous experiences at the hands of their captors, Bones and Spock ’s worry about him becomes immediately visible. It’s a sad and striking moment that escalates to McCoy sacrificing himself to ensure his friends’ survival.

Every Upcoming Star Trek Movie & TV Show

Star trek (2009), "i'm a doctor, not a physicist.".

J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek (2009) successfully rebooted the franchise, establishing important new characters and an alternate Kelvin Timeline. As the excellently cast new young crew of the USS Enterprise encounter Nero’s Narada and realize its impact on their universe, Spock (Zachary Quinto) considers the possibility of time travel. Dr. Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban) responds with a familiar catchphrase intended to feel organic in its reverence to Star Trek ’s earliest series, exclaiming, “ Dammit, man! I’m a doctor, not a physicist! Are you actually suggesting they’re from the future? ”

Abrams’ Star Trek films have been highly commended for their casting of the original Enterprise crew.

It's a nice nod to the franchise’s origins and an obvious consistency of a much-loved and celebrated character. Abrams’ Star Trek films have been highly commended for their casting of the original Enterprise crew, with each actor’s interpretation bringing new facets to the role while respecting and celebrating the earlier performances. Karl Urban’s Dr. McCoy comes closest to emulating DeForest Kelley’s original performance , with both perfect in the role.

Star Trek Into Darkness

"i'm a doctor, not a torpedo technician.".

Star Trek Into Darkness saw the Kelvin Timeline USS Enterprise crew return to the big screen. In the wake of Khan Noonien Singh’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) attacks on Starfleet and the death of Admiral Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew are emotionally reeling and assigned on a questionable mission to Klingon space by the nefarious Admiral Alexander Marcus (Peter Weller) . As Marcus uses the USS Vengeance against the Enterprise, Kirk and Khan quietly space dive across to the enemy ship. Meanwhile, Spock enlists the assistance of Dr. McCoy in a project with the experimental torpedoes used to conceal Khan’s genetically augmented crew.

In true Bones McCoy style, Karl Urban’s character responds to Spock with an exasperated exclamation that he’s “ a doctor, not a torpedo technician ” – subtly nodding back to Star Trek: The Original Series . When Khan later seizes power on the Vengeance and kills Admiral Marcus, he returns Kirk, Scotty, and Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) to the Enterprise and spares the heavily damaged ship from further attack in exchange for the torpedoes. With no other options, Spock agrees. Ultimately, it’s revealed that Spock and McCoy had removed Khan’s crew from the torpedo casings and kept them on board Enterprise.

Star Trek Beyond

"i'm a doctor, not a f--.".

When Krall (Idris Elba) attacks the USS Enterprise with his Swarm drone ships in search of the Abronath – an artifact to complete a powerful weapon – the crew is left scattered and stranded (or captured) on the nearby planet, Altamid. Slowly regrouping on the planet’s surface, Captain Kirk and his officers work to free the crew and repair the wrecked USS Franklin. As they escape on the restored NX starship, Spock and McCoy beam to a drone ship to disrupt the drones’ uniformity using VHF emissions provided by Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) .

Dr. McCoy’s reaction to his role in the plan is amusing, with ‘surprised’ or ‘pleased’ very much an inexact sarcastic understatement – foreshadowed by Kirk’s “ he’s gonna love this .” Naturally, McCoy reacts as expected, uttering, “ I’m a doctor, not a f---, ” as he beams away. Nonetheless, McCoy successfully pilots the drone amid the devastation of Krall’s swarm and successfully aids in stopping Krall’s attack on Starbase Yorktown – pivoting to rescue Kirk at the end of Star Trek Beyond.

McCoy exhibits significant emotional wisdom and ethical depth.

McCoy’s catchphrase is a charming quirk of his unique and multilayered personality. Irascible and somewhat pointed at a surface level, McCoy exhibits significant emotional wisdom and ethical depth over multiple episodes and movies. Influencing subsequent franchise series and movies, Dr. Leonard McCoy’s most famous saying is adaptable and dynamic and an immediately identifiable feature of Star Trek ’s impressive legacy.

Star Trek: The Original Series is available for streaming on Paramount+.

Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond are available for streaming on Paramount+.

J.J. Abrams' 2009 movie Star Trek rebooted the iconic sci-fi franchise in a totally new timeline. When a Romulan ship travels back in time and alters the past, the lives of James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and the future crew of the USS Enterprise are drastically changed. In this new timeline, the Romulan Nero (Eric Bana) sets out for revenge on Spock, setting off a chain of events that reshape the entire universe.

Director J.J. Abrams

Release Date May 7, 2009

Cast Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pine, Simon Pegg

Runtime 127 Minutes

Star Trek Into Darkness is a 2013 movie directed by     J. J. Abrams and starring John Cho, Alice Eve, and Benedict Cumberbatch. Part of the Star Trek franchise, this sequel sees Captain Kirk relieved of his duties as commander of the USS Enterprise.

Release Date May 16, 2013

Cast Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Cho

Runtime 2h 12m

In the Kelvin timeline of Star Trek Films, Captain James Tiberius Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew return to fight a new enemy who puts everything they and the Federation stand for to the ultimate test. This third installment of the rebooted Star Trek films marked the 50th anniversary of the classic sci-fi franchise.

Director Justin Lin

Release Date July 22, 2016

Cast Sofia Boutella, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, John Cho, Idris Elba, Shohreh Aghdashloo

Runtime 122 minutes

Star Trek: The Original Series

Star Trek: The Original Series follows the exploits of the crew of the USS Enterprise. On a five-year mission to explore uncharted space, Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) must trust his crew - Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (Forest DeKelley), Montgomery "Scotty" Scott (James Doohan), Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Sulu (George Takei) - with his life. Facing previously undiscovered life forms and civilizations and representing humanity among the stars on behalf of Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets, the Enterprise regularly comes up against impossible odds and diplomatic dilemmas.

Cast Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, William Shatner, George Takei, Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelley, James Doohan

Release Date

Streaming Service(s)


Showrunner Gene Roddenberry

Every Time Star Trek's Dr. McCoy Said “I’m A Doctor, Not A…”

Memory Alpha

  • View history

Matt McCoy ( born 20 May 1958 ; age 65) is the actor who portrayed Devinoni Ral in the Star Trek: The Next Generation third season episode " The Price ". One of his suits was later worn by actor Neal Kaz in the Star Trek: Voyager fifth season episode " Someone to Watch Over Me " and was sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. [1]

He is probably best known for his appearances as former mental patient Lloyd Braun on the hit television series Seinfeld . That series featured Voyager guest actor Jason Alexander as a regular cast member.

McCoy starred as Sergeant Nick Lassard in two Police Academy films, both of which also starred David Graf . The first was Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach in 1988, which also featured René Auberjonois . That same year, he and Auberjonois co-starred together in an episode of Murder, She Wrote . The following year came Police Academy 6: City Under Siege , which also featured the likes of Kenneth Mars , Arthur Batanides , and Darryl Henriques .

In Police Academy 5 when McCoy's character, Nick, appears to subdue a thug with a Vulcan neck pinch . Off the others' amazed looks, he holds up a syringe filled with a sedative, giving a Vulcan salute with his other hand.

In 1987 McCoy starred in the TV movie Race Against the Harvest A.K.A. American Harvest alongside John Anderson , Randal Patrick , and John Pyper-Ferguson . Also in 1989, McCoy had a supporting role in DeepStar Six , along with Miguel Ferrer . He also appeared in Miracle Landing (1990, with James Cromwell , Armin Shimerman , Jeff Allin and Herta Ware ). In 1992, he starred in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (with John de Lancie ) and cast by Junie Lowry-Johnson . His motion picture credits since then have included L.A. Confidential (1997), which co-starred James Cromwell , Robert Clendenin , Steve Rankin , Symba Smith , Brenda Bakke , John Mahon , Jim Metzler , and Colin Mitchell , as well as stuntmen Steven Lambert , Don Pulford and Allan Graf ; and National Security (2003, featuring Brett Cullen ).

McCoy and his L.A. Confidential co-star James Cromwell were among the many Star Trek veterans who were part of the cast of Dream West (1986, with F. Murray Abraham , Jeff Allin , Erich Anderson , John Anderson , Lee Bergere , Michael Ensign , Jonathan Frakes , William Glover , Alice Krige , Glenn Morshower , Fritz Weaver , Noble Willingham , and Anthony Zerbe ). In 2001, McCoy and James Cromwell were both regulars on Citizen Baines .

External links [ ]

  • Matt McCoy at the Internet Movie Database
  • Matt McCoy at Wikipedia
  • 1 Rachel Garrett
  • 3 USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-G)

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Published Jan 19, 2011

Remembering DeForest Kelley

mccoy star trek actor

DeForest Kelley – born on January 20, 1920 -- was that rarest of Hollywood rarities, a true gentleman, an old-school Southern fella who hailed from Georgia. He always insisted that anyone who met him call him “De.” He treated everyone – lifelong friends and newbie Star Trek fans excited just to be in his presence – with equal grace and warmth. And more than anything in the universe, he absolutely adored his beloved Carolyn, who’d been Mrs. DeForest Kelley for nearly 55 years when Kelley passed away on June 11, 1999. Oddly enough, before he landed his iconic Star Trek role as the cranky-but-goodhearted “country doctor,” Dr. Leonard “Bones" McCoy , Kelley had spent much of his career portraying nasty, humorless, tough-as-nails villains.

Ironic, right?

Now, it’d be too easy to sit here and list Kelley’s credits or recount Dr. McCoy’s most memorable lines or most infamous sparring matches with Spock . So we’re not going to do that. If you’re interested, though, we highly recommend From Sawdust to Stardust: The Biography of DeForest Kelley, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy, a comprehensive and Kelley-sanctioned biography penned by Terry Lee Rioux and released in 2005. We also suggest checking out DeForest Kelley: A Harvest of Memories, by Kristine M. Smith, a Kelley fan who became his personal assistant and, eventually, his caretaker as the actor lived out his last days. And, of course, there’s a plethora of information to be found online.

Instead, let’s remember a few comments made by Kelley himself:

“It wouldn’t have worked with me as Spock. I still remember Gene ( Roddenberry ) saying there were two roles in Star Trek he thought I’d be right for. One of them was (Spock) and one of them was what I called High Noon (Dr. McCoy). I thought it over and I said, ‘I’ll take High Noon, Gene.’ High Noon worked out just fine for me, wouldn’t you agree?” – Star Trek Monthly

“My absolute favorite memory (of Star Trek )? I don’t know. One that stands out, though, was something that happened during our third year of the series. We knew we’d be dropped at the end of the season, but we were still shooting the show. There was a television set around and we watched one of the NASA missions, maybe the one where they landed on the moon. Here we were, standing there in our far-out costumes, filming a show about the future, watching the astronauts walking around for real. That always amazes me, that memory.” – Star Trek Monthly

And lastly, his New York Times obituary quoted Kelley contemplating his legacy:

“These people are doctors now, all kinds of doctors who save lives. That’s something very few people can say they’ve done. I’m proud to say that I have.”

Happy 91st birthday, De.

Fans -- What's your favorite Dr. McCoy moment?

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Section 31: First Image of Michelle Yeoh in New Star Trek Movie Released

The first image from the latest Star Trek film has been revealed.

The first image of Michelle Yeoh in the next Star Trek movie has been revealed.

As part of a Star Trek -centric cover story from Variety , the first image from Star Trek: Section 31 was shown , highlighting Academy Award winner Michelle Yeoh as the character Emperor Philippa Georgiou . In the picture, Yeoh can be seen whispering to and seemingly threatening a mystery new character who sports a metallic mohawk look. Yeoh is reprising her role as Emperor Georgiou for the new film after previously appearing in Star Trek: Discovery. Section 31 will be the first Star Trek movie to release on streaming, as it's set to debut on Paramount+.

What Star Trek Uniform Colors Mean Throughout the Franchise's Eras

Star Trek: Section 31 will be helmed by director Olatunde Osunsanmi, who previously worked on Discovery as a director and producer, and written by Craig Sweeny, who also worked on the show. Star Trek: Section 31 will reportedly see Yeoh's Emperor as she travels through time and space, coming face to face with Starfleet's secretive black ops agency.

Star Trek 4 With Chris Pine Still in Development

Star Trek fans also got some positive updates on the fourth installment of the Chris Pine-led movies, which has been in development for years. Set in the Kelvin timeline, Paramount has reportedly tapped Steve Yockey to write the new screenplay for Star Trek 4 . Yockey previously wrote for television shows such as Max's The Flight Attendant , Dead Boy Detectives , Doom Patrol , Supernatural , and Scream .

Star Trek: Section 31 Actor Shares Exciting Update on Discovery Spinoff

The cast of the first three films in the Kelvin timeline are also reportedly set to return. Chris Pine will return as Captain James T. Kirk, with Zachary Quinto playing the alien Spock, Zoe Saldaña as Nyota Uhura, Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard McCoy, John Cho as Hikaru Sulu, and Simon Pegg as Montgomery Scott. The group first appeared in the franchise in JJ Abrams' Star Trek in 2008. As stated, Paramount have tried to get Star Trek 4 off the ground for years now, but it appears now it might finally come to fruition.

Star Trek: Section 31 releases on Paramount+, although no official date has been announced.

Source: Variety

The Star Trek universe encompasses multiple series, each offering a unique lens through which to experience the wonders and perils of space travel. Join Captain Kirk and his crew on the Original Series' voyages of discovery, encounter the utopian vision of the Federation in The Next Generation, or delve into the darker corners of galactic politics in Deep Space Nine. No matter your preference, there's a Star Trek adventure waiting to ignite your imagination.

Screen Rant

10 star trek actors who played younger characters.

Star Trek has several iconic characters but the actors who play them are sometimes deceptively older than their Starfleet counterparts.

  • Star Trek actors are often older than their characters due to intricate timelines and makeup effects.
  • Characters like Spock have longer lifespans, allowing actors to play them at any age.
  • Despite age differences, the franchise consistently casts actors who perfectly suit their roles.

Many iconic Star Trek actors are deceptively older than the iconic characters they play. Because of Stardates and complicated timelines, the age of some Star Trek characters remains unknown. However, some characters' birth years have been said on screen, and Star Trek fans have determined the birthdays of others by referencing tie-in materials or events on the Star Trek timeline. While audiences may expect actors to be about the same age as their characters, this is not always possible, especially when dealing with reboots, prequels, and spin-offs.

Many actors also look younger than they actually are, making it easy for them to pass as younger characters. Plus, in the far future of Star Trek , advances in medicine and science enable people to live longer, which makes the actors' ages largely irrelevant. Some aliens, like Vulcans, for example, have very long lives and continue to look relatively young by human standards. Regardless of the discrepancies between a character's and actor's ages, the Star Trek franchise has done a consistently good job of casting actors who perfectly suit their roles. Here are 10 Star Trek actors who are actually older than their characters.

14 Biggest Star Trek Updates: Section 31, Starfleet Academy, Strange New Worlds & More

10 deforest kelley as dr. leonard mccoy, star trek: the original series.

Born in the year 2227, Dr. Leonard McCoy went to medical school and joined Starfleet as a medical officer without attending Starfleet Academy. Although McCoy's exact Star Trek timeline is somewhat difficult to pin down, he was serving as the USS Enterprise's Chief Medical Officer by 2266, at the age of 39. DeForest Kelley was 46 in 1966 when he took on the role of Dr. McCoy in Star Trek: The Original Series , making him seven years older than his character.

In the alternate Kelvin timeline of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek films, Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban) enrolled at Starfleet Academy in 2255, soon after which he and James Kirk (Chris Pine) became close friends.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the final film with the entire Star Trek: The Original Series' main cast, took place in 2293, making McCoy 66 years old, while Kelley was 71. As seen in the premiere episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation , McCoy lived to be at least 137. Tragically, Deforest Kelley was the first main TOS cast member to pass away in 1999 at the age of 79, after a battle with cancer.

9 Walter Koenig As Pavel Chekov

The youngest member of Captain James T. Kirk's (William Shatner) crew, Ensign Pavel Chekov joined the Starshop Enterprise straight out of the Starfleet Academy, sometime prior to 2267. Chekov was only 22 years old at the time, and he primarily served as the ship's navigator, though Chekov would go on to fill many jobs throughout his Starfleet career. In 2293, at the age of 48, Chekov was one of the guests of honor on the maiden voyage of the USS Enterprise-B in Star Trek Generations .

Walter Koenig was already 30 when he began playing the young ensign, and he was once told he was too old to play Chekov . After joining the cast of TOS for the show's second season, Koenig went on to appear in thirty-six episodes of the series, as well as seven feature films. Born in 1936, Koenig is currently 87 and remains active in the Star Trek community, attending conventions and other events.

8 Jonathan Frakes As Commander/Captain William T. Riker

Star trek: the next generation.

Commander William Riker was born in August of 2335, making him 29 when he took on the role of First Officer on the newly launched USS Enterprise-D. Over the next several years, Riker would turn down multiple promotions to remain on the Enterprise with Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). Riker finally accepted his own command in 2379 at the age of 44, becoming Captain of the USS Titan.

Jonathan Frakes was 35 when Star Trek: The Next Generation began in 1987, making him about 6 years older than Riker. While filming Star Trek: Nemesis , Frakes was 50 compared to his character's 44. Now 71, Frakes recently reprised the role of Captain Riker for Star Trek: Picard , playing a major role in the show's award-winning third season, during which Riker was 66.

In addition to portraying William Riker (and his transporter twin Thomas Riker), Frakes has also become one of Star Trek's most beloved and prolific directors.

10 Best Star Trek Episodes Directed By Jonathan Frakes

7 avery brooks as commander/captain benjamin sisko, star trek: deep space nine.

Born in 2332, Commander Benjamin Sisko took over command of space station Deep Space Nine in 2369 when he was 37 years old. During his time on the station, Sisko was promoted to Captain, and he commanded the USS Defiant in multiple battles against the Jam'Hader and Cardassiasn during the Dominion War. In 2375, at the age of 43, Sisko sacrificed himself to end the Dominion War.

Although Sisko was initially presumed dead, the Bajoran Prophets had actually transported him to the Celestial Temple due to Sisko's status as their Emissary . Avery Books was an accomplished Shakespearean actor before he began playing Sisko in 1992 when he was 44, seven years older than his character. Brooks played Sisko for seven years on DS9 and continued to appear at Star Trek conventions for years after.

6 Roxanne Dawson As Lt. B'Elanna Torres

Star trek: voyager.

B'Elanna Torres was born in 2346 to a human father and a Klingon mother. Although she entered Starfleet Academy around the age of 18, she dropped out after two years and joined the rebel Maquis. In 2371, B'Elanna was on the Maquis ship, the Val Jean, when it was transported to the Delta Quadrant along with the USS Voyager. After the Maquis members were integrated into Voyager's crew, the 25-year-old B'Elanna became the ship's Chief Engineer, a position she held until Voyager made it home in 2378.

Actress and director Roxann Dawson was born in 1958, making her 37 when Star Trek: Voyager premiered in 1995. Despite being twelve years older than her character, Dawson has always looked younger than her actual age. Plus, the prosthetics and make-up required to make her appear half-Klingon made her age difficult to determine.

5 Scott Bakula As Captain Jonathan Archer

Star trek: enterprise.

In 2151, Jonathan Archer became the Captain of United Earth's first starship, the Enterprise NX-01. Archer had been born in 2112 in upstate New York and worked as a test pilot in the NX Program before he was chosen to take over command of the Enterprise. Archer was 39 when he set out on his first mission and 49 when his command ended in 2161 , soon after which he signed the charter ratifying the Coalition of Planets, the precursor to the Federation.

Scott Bakula was 47 when Star Trek: Enterprise began in 2001 and 51 when the show ended four seasons later. While Bakula will always be Captain Jonathan Archer for some, the actor had already achieved fame by starring as Dr. Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap from 1989 to 1993. Bakula went on to have another starring role, as Special Agent Dwayne Pride in NCIS: New Orleans , which came to an end in 2021 after seven seasons.

4 Mary Wiseman As Lt. Sylvia Tilly

Star trek: discovery.

Born on Earth in 2233, Sylvia Tilly joined the crew of the USS Discovery as an incredibly intelligent and eager Starfleet cadet sometime around the year 2256, when she was 23. In 2257, at the age of 24, Tilly was awarded the Starfleet Medal of Honor for her role in the Federation-Klingon War, at which time she also became a full ensign and joined the command track.

At the end of Star Trek: Discovery season 2 , the titular ship traveled over 900 years into the future to the 32nd century, making the characters' ages a bit more difficult to track. Tilly should be around 25 by the year 3190 when Starfleet Academy reopened and United Earth rejoined the Federation. Actress Mary Wiseman was 32 when Discovery began in 2017, and her infectious energy makes it difficult to imagine anyone else as Tilly.

Star Trek: Discovery's Wilson Cruz, Mary Wiseman & Blu del Barrio On Their Season 5 Journeys

3 ethan peck as lt. spock, star trek: discovery, star trek: strange new worlds, star trek: strange new worlds.

Being half-Vulcan, Spock had a longer lifespan than a human and lived to the age of 161. Born in 2230 to Vulcan Ambassador Sarek (James Frain) and human mother Amanda Grayson (Mia Kirshner), Spock entered Starfleet Academy sometime prior to 2250. Spock was assigned to Captain Pike's Enterprise crew in 2253, at the age of 23, although he took a leave of absence from Starfleet in 2257 after the Federation-Klingon War.

In 2258, now 28 years old, Spock returned to his position as Science Officer on the Enterprise and remains in that position as of 2259. Actor Ethan Peck was 33 when he began playing Spock in 2019, making him 38 as of 2024, while Spock remains just shy of 30. Based on the first looks at Strange New Worlds season 3 , Spock will be spending some time in a new lab set on the Starship Enterprise.

2 Christina Chong As Lt. La'an Noonien-Singh

A descendant of the infamous Earth dictator, Khan Noonien-Singh (Ricardo Montalban), La'an was born in 2228 and spent much of her childhood on the colony ship SS Puget Sound. La'an later chose to attend Starfleet Academy and graduated at the top of her class. In 2259, at the age of 31, La'an joined the crew of the USS Enterprise under the Commander of Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount).

The events of the Strange New Worlds season 2 finale , "Hegemony," occurred later in the year 2259, meaning La'an will still be around the age of 31 or 32 when the show returns for its third season. Actress and singer Christina Chong was 39 when Star Trek: Strange New Worlds began in 2022, making her eight years older than her character. However, like many of the actors on this list, Chong easily passes for someone in their early 30s.

1 Paul Wesley As Lt. James T. Kirk

The legendary James T. Kirk was born in 2233 in Riverside, Iowa. Kirk entered Starfleet Academy in 2252, at the age of 19, and quickly made a name for himself, becoming the only cadet in history to beat the infamous Kobayashi Maru scenario. After graduating from the Academy, Kirk joined the crew of the USS Farragut and soon became the youngest First Officer in Starfleet, at 26.

Paul Wesley made his first appearance as an alternate future James Kirk in the Strange New Worlds season 1 finale, before portraying the Prime Universe Kirk in the show's second season. Paul Wesley was 40 when he began playing Kirk in 2022, but regardless of his age, he brings the right kind of charming energy to the role and has the look of a young Jim Kirk. It remains to be seen how large of a role Wesley's James Kirk will play in Strange New Worlds season 3, which will hopefully be one of the first Star Trek projects to premiere in 2025.

All of these Star Trek shows are streaming on Paramount+.

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‘Star Trek 4’ Beams Up New Screenwriter: ‘The Flight Attendant’ Creator Steve Yockey (EXCLUSIVE)

By Adam B. Vary

Adam B. Vary

Senior Entertainment Writer

  • Jerrod Carmichael Was Terrified of Being Seen, So He Made a Reality Show: ‘This May Be Unhealthy. It Is a Little Dangerous’ 3 days ago
  • ‘Star Trek 4’ Beams Up New Screenwriter: ‘The Flight Attendant’ Creator Steve Yockey (EXCLUSIVE) 4 days ago
  • The Future of ‘Star Trek’: From ‘Starfleet Academy’ to New Movies and Michelle Yeoh, How the 58-Year-Old Franchise Is Planning for the Next Generation of Fans 4 days ago

Steve Yockey Star Trek

Steve Yockey , creator of the Max series “The Flight Attendant,” is joining Starfleet as the new screenwriter for “ Star Trek 4.”

Story details remain under a powerful cloaking device, but Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot still intend the project to be the final chapter for the cast that rebooted the franchise in movie theaters with 2009’s “Star Trek,” including Chris Pine (as Capt. James T. Kirk), Zachary Quinto (as Cmdr. Spock), Zoe Saldaña (as Lt. Nyota Uhura), Karl Urban (as Dr. Leonard McCoy), John Cho (as Lt. Hikaru Sulu) and Simon Pegg (as chief engineer Montgomery Scott). ( Variety first reported the news in its cover story on the future of the “Star Trek” franchise.)

Yockey’s involvement is the most promising sign of forward momentum the project has had since. The playwright started his TV writing career on the MTV series “Awkward” and “Scream,” before joining the writing staff of “Supernatural” for four seasons. His latest series, the Sandman universe adaptation “Dead Boy Detectives,” will premiere on Netflix in April.

Paramount is also developing a separate “Star Trek” project, with writer Seth Grahame-Smith (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) and director by Toby Haynes (“Black Mirror: USS Callister”), that would feature a new cast in a story meant as a kind of origin story for the franchise. A project with screenwriter Kalinda Vazquez (“Fear the Walking Dead”) first announced in 2021 also remains in development.

Yockey is represented by CAA and Slate PR.

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  1. Leonard McCoy

    Dr. Leonard H. McCoy, known as "Bones", is a character in the American science-fiction franchise Star Trek. McCoy was played by actor DeForest Kelley in the original Star Trek series from 1966 to 1969, and he also appears in the animated Star Trek series, in six Star Trek films, in the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and in numerous books, comics, and video games.

  2. DeForest Kelley

    DeForest Kelley. Jackson DeForest Kelley (January 20, 1920 - June 11, 1999), known to colleagues as " Dee ", [1] was an American actor, screenwriter, poet, and singer. He was known for his roles in Westerns and achieved international fame as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy of the USS Enterprise in the television and film series Star Trek (1966-1991).

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  9. Leonard McCoy

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  10. Karl Urban

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  13. DeForest Kelley

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