Star Trek's DeForest Kelley thought about becoming a real doctor

The Star Trek doctor once considered becoming a doctor in real life! Dr. McCoy reporting for duty.

DeForest Kelley was the far out space doctor in Star Trek for a total of 76 episodes from 1966 to 1969. He played the role of Doctor Leonard "Bones" McCoy alongside William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols and more. 

In the series, Dr. McCoy treated everyone from space aliens to humans. Being a doctor seemed to come natural to Kelley, and maybe it was. Before starting his acting career, Kelley thought about becoming a doctor in real life. With his experience in the Trek world, we could see it for him. 

In a 1968 interview with The Desert Sun, Kelley said he was inspired to become a doctor by his uncle, who was a distinguished physician in his hometown of Atlanta.

Even though he had the support to become a doctor, Kelley went a different route.

In a 1968 interview with The North Adams Transcript, Kelley said taking the role on Star Trek led him to more opportunity than he could have ever imagined.

"I'm eternally grateful for Star Trek and what it's done for me," he said. "I had been in the business 20 years and even made two pilots, which never sold. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would never have a series. I still can't get over the popularity this show has brought me. It gave me renewed faith in myself." 

During the Apollo 7 flight, Kelley said he felt naturally involved by playing Bones on Star Trek. According to the interview, Kelley sent out the following telegram to the space program: 

"I do not make house calls but under the circumstances would be pleased to beam aboard and take care of the common cold." It was even signed by Bones. 

According to the interview, Kelley said in developing his character as Dr. McCoy, he had to become a doctor. Mindset wise, that is. 

"It's been my experience that there are very few physicians who give the patient any kind of warmth," he said. "I've tried to inject warmth into McCoy. I've tried to make him a human being, a man who cares."

Even though Kelley technically was a doctor in the series, we could only imagine how different Kelley's life would have been if he would have become a real doctor, as he had hoped to become when he was young.

"If I could have picked any role in the series, I would have picked McCoy," he said. "He reminds us that the sci-fi world is still troubled by humans."


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17 Comments

CoreyC 22 days ago
Kirk: The Brawn
Spock: The Brains
McCoy: The Heart
daDoctah CoreyC 22 days ago
Chekov: The Hair
jd4862 daDoctah 21 days ago
I believe they modeled Chekov after Davy Jones of The Monkees.
Runeshaper 22 days ago
Dr. McCoy was such a GREAT character and DeForest Kelley definitely brought him to life! I think he would have made a good doctor in real life too (-:
JHP 22 days ago
well

I think every male between yrs 6 and 10 considered being a doctor:)
daDoctah JHP 22 days ago
I did, but after a summer as one of two male candystripers in a class of about twenty, I learned just how dreary it was being around sick people all day.
JHP daDoctah 22 days ago
well.....don't know how to respond:) at that year of a male's life there was a different doctor calling?

in a ep of MASH you kinda sound like Frank Burns:)
Andybandit 23 days ago
That would have be cool if he was a Dr. in real life. He was good on Star Trek.
Karellen 23 days ago
Not to nitpick, but Original Star Trek had 78 episodes.
Pacificsun Karellen 22 days ago
Which one did they remove, and why?



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Star_Trek:_The_Original_Series_episodes
daDoctah Pacificsun 22 days ago
I think this discrepancy has to do with whether you count the two-parter "The Menagerie" as one episode or two.
Pacificsun daDoctah 22 days ago
😉😉 You deserve two of these, (one) because you're a Regular & faithful contributor and (two) because you're always good natured!

Believe me, I checked Wiki first. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Star_Trek:_The_Original_Series_episodes
So the point of my comment was a turnabout gesture, as in, what's the point of counting, one or two short, or not. To look at the numbering reflects what was intentionally aired during each Season. A few other Series (and I can name one) also added (and reworked) footage to make a "movie" length version (originally) for overseas distribution, and then later added to the DVD Collection. And as original Fans, we were grateful for that.

More so than 𝒏𝒊𝒕𝒑𝒊𝒄𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈 Fans should honestly appreciate what was filmed, period. No matter how it was used. ST:TOS happens to be an unusual example of how a Series came to be, which has never hindered it's endless Franchise!!
LoveMETV22 23 days ago
DeForest Kelley had an interesting career in both Film and Television. Although his first feature film was "Fear in the Night" (1947), he did a short armed forces educational film prior to that "Time To Kill"(1945)
that also featured George Reeves (Superman), and Betty White (which was also her film debut).
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 22 days ago
That's a curiously, interesting piece of trivia. How fortuitous the actors would become some of the most iconic classic TV characters we've come to enjoy throughout the decades!!

Just as hundreds of other fans have, I met Mr. & Mrs. DeForest Kelley; we share something in common 😉
daDoctah 23 days ago
"I'm a doctor, not a doctor! Wait, what?"
Peter_Falk_Fan 23 days ago
Reminds me of a commercial with Peter Bergman (Dr. Cliff Warner on “All My Children”): "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV."
justjeff Peter_Falk_Fan 23 days ago
...one of my favorite lines...
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