The book is a chronicle of Kelley’s life right from the time when he was a youngster growing up in impoverished circumstances under the watchful eyes of his Baptist preacher father who felt that even going to dances, movies, smoking and drinking were sinful activities with grave consequences. Stifled in such an atmosphere (though he never lost the values that his father inculcated in him and his elder brother) Kelly rebelled by going off to California, becoming involved in theatre, and finally getting a toe-hold in Hollywood. But just as things were looking up came the disruption as US entered the second world war and all the young men were drafted. It was a pattern that would follow Kelley all his life. Just when success seemed to be within reach some disruption would occur which would throw him back to square one: once more to struggle and prove himself. Thus even during the early seventies as Star Trek was becoming a huge success in its syndication avatar and the channels were reaping in the profits, Kelley was reduced to doing dinner-theatre, a situation which made him declare famously: “I am the star of a ghost.”
Kelley was the only one among the Star Trek super seven who did not write an autobiography/ memoir etc and so this book does actually cover a lacuna but somehow I wasn’t too satisfied after reading it. It might be because somewhere the author doesn’t seem to give us what really transpired. For instance, the author writes that George Takei who played Sulu wasn’t too happy with the “Don’t call me tiny” scene in the third Star Trek movie. It was finally Kelley who convinced him to do it though Takei remained unconvinced about it. It would have been nice over here to have Takei recall that discussion but there is nothing. In fact, among the original Star Trek actors only Nimoy and Nichols seem to have anything to say. What about Doohan, Koeing, Takei, Shatner, Barret? Did they have nothing to say about this man who otherwise seems to have been loved and respected by all? Perhaps it is time for another biography to be written.
Overall an okay read that could have been better.
First Line: Reverend Ernest David Kelley began his ministry to the congregation of Convyers, Georgia, on January 12, 1930.
Title: From Sawdust to Stardust: The Biography of Deforest Kelley, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy.
Author: Terry Lee Rioux
Publication Details: NY: Pocket Books, 2005.
First Published: 2005
Other books read of the same author: None
Submitted for various challenges.