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.


DesLily said...

being a friend of both of the Kelley's I wish I could agree with you. The book started of "ok" but one never feels they really get to know DeForest. No credits are listed (not even at the back of the book) and far too much is made of Ms Smith (who betrayed his trust) me on that one.

but I am glad that someone at least tried to let the world know of this gentle actor, who was far better an actor than he got to show.

Gina @ Hott Books said...

I'm a huge trekie. He was my favorite in the show :)
Terrific review!

Bev Hankins said...

DesLily: Interestingly enough, there are other folks on the Amazon reviews who say THEY were friends with the Kelleys. And they happen to like this book and give it high marks. Not knowing you or them...I'll go with my impression of the book. I liked it. I think it is a wonderful tribute to a remarkable man. THAT is what I have emphasized in my review.

My copy of the book actually DOES list and credit sources and even has an index. I don't know what copy you happened to read. My recommendation for the book is based on the story of DeForest Kelley and quite frankly has nothing to do with Ms. Smith and whether or not she betrayed him (or your opinion of her--or anybody else's opinion of her). Considering that Mr Kelley is the only one who could tell us that first hand, I'm not inclined to take your second hand opinion (or anyone else's for that matter). And, since it hasn't anything do with with the respect I have for Mr. Kelley himself, it really isn't relevant to my review.

I'm not asking you to agree with me...I just wish you wouldn't use my blog as a forum for your opinion of Ms. Smith--who, by the way, wasn't even mentioned in my review.