Wednesday, March 14, 2012
From Sawdust to Stardust: Review
Wow. Just wow.
I don't care if you're not a Star Trek fan. I don't care if you've been living in some weird other world and have no clue who DeForest Kelley was (the Original Dr. "Bones" McCoy and cast in many westerns prior to Star Trek stardom). You really must read this book. From Sawdust to Stardust: The Biography of DeForest Kelley, Star Trek's Dr. McCoy by Terry Lee Rioux is an absolutely amazing book about one of the most decent men of the 20th Century--and definitely one of the most decent people to go ever through Hollywood.
The down-to-earth son of a Georgia Baptist preacher, DeForest Kelley was all that a true Southern gentleman should be--a Southern gentleman without all the prejudices and stereotypical behaviors ascribed to the people of the South. He always treated women as ladies--without being condescending. He always treated everyone--black, white, Asian, older, younger, it did not matter--with the respect due an equal. He grew up with certain principles--principles that came both from his preacher father and his gentle mother--and he never let them go. Not when trying hard to make his way in the dog-eat-dog world of movie industry and not even when late in life he finally reached the star status which being part of the iconic Star Trek mythos brought him.
In the glittering world of Hollywood where marriage partners could be changed as often as one's outfits, Kelley remained married to the same woman for over 40 years. And not only remained married, but friends said he was just as in love and just as romantic as when he first courted her. He was infinitely patient with the clamoring fans who loved him for the space age doctor he portrayed. And up until the end of his life, he had all his fan mail delivered directly to his home and he and his wife Carolyn opened, read, and answered every piece they possibly could. He touched more lives "playing a doctor on TV" than he ever could have had he become one in real life--visiting sick children who were fans, inspiring young people to become doctors themselves, and influencing everyone he met to be kinder, gentler, and better than they were before.
Terry Lee Rioux has given us an incredible look at a truly remarkable person. McCoy has always been my favorite Star Trek character. DeForest Kelley is one of my favorite human beings. Five Stars--unreservedly.