DeForest Kelley

Happy birthday to actor DeForest Kelley, DeForestKelleyborn Jan. 20, 1920 in Atlanta, GA. Kelley’s first brush with show business was singing in his father’s church in the early 1930s, which eventually led to a singing engagement with Lew Forbes and his Orchestra. But he soon gave up performing to go to school. During WWII, Kelley was assigned to the First Motion Picture Unit, a branch of the armed forces responsible for creating training and propaganda films. In 1946, Kelley moved to California to pursue a career in acting, and caught the attention of a Paramount scout who saw Kelley in a Navy training film. In 1947, Kelley made his film debut with a lead part in the noir film Fear in the Night. He had one more leading role in Variety Girl (1947), but thereafter was used as a character actor in supporting parts, including two more noir films: Canon City (1948) and Illegal (1955). In the early 1950s, Kelley started working consistently in television, often appearing in westerns, usually playing a villain. At the same time, he had roles in several western movies, such as: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, The Law and Jake Wade (1958) with Robert Taylor and Richard Widmark, and Warlock (1959) with Richard Widmark and Henry Fonda, and Black Spurs (1965) and Apache Uprising (1965) both with Rory Calhoun. In 1966, Kelley’s career shot into the stratosphere when he was cast as Dr. McCoy in the Star Trek TV series, bringing him legions of new fans and forever cementing his place in film and television history. After Star Trek was cancelled in 1969, Kelley continued to have guest spots on various TV shows, but by the 1980s his only screen appearances were in the many Star Trek movies that would be released throughout the decade, as well as recording voiceovers for Star Trek games. Kelley died of stomach cancer in 1999 at age 79.

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