DeForest Kelley didn't find fame before Star Trek because he was "too nice"

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Before Star Trek, DeForest Kelley played in many small television roles, mostly as a character actor who wasn't identified for a single role. Though he spent a lot of time in westerns, he hadn't made a name for himself until Star Trek: The Original Series came along. Initially, according to a 1968 interview with Democrat and Chronicle (via MeTV), Kelley was turned down for the role. But Gene Roddenberry wanted him for the part, which he acknowledges "wasn't supposed to be much." The actor was signed for "seven of the first thirteen episodes." And that turned into even more episodes until he became an integral part of the show, playing the often grumpy Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy.

It's ironic that Kelley played such a part, considering he called himself "a sweet young innocent thing" when he got into acting in 1946, and said he was "too nice."

"And it has taken me a good many years to realize that nice guys don't mean a damn thing in this business. They get trampled. I wish I had learned that a lot earlier.""

DeForest Kellley

Kelley ended up in most of the episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series. The actor did some small parts after Star Trek was cancelled in 1969, but in 1973, he returned to voice Dr. McCoy in Star Trek: The Animated Series. Star Trek was resurrected on the big screen in 1979, making Kelley and the rest of the cast of The Original Series major stars in the industry.

And though Kelley had achieved that level of fame he'd never found before Star Trek, by all accounts, he remained one of the nicest actors in Hollywood. Though he might have considered that a strike against him at first, it served to create an enduring legacy of a kind man who embodied a role that millions adored.

Next. Watch: DeForest Kelley read his poem for Star Trek’s 25th anniversary. Watch: DeForest Kelley read his poem for Star Trek’s 25th anniversary. dark