Memory Alpha
Memory Alpha
Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)


"For those interested in the life and work of actor DeForest Kelley, they cannot do better than consult From Sawdust to Stardust, Terry Lee Rioux's thorough and engaging life story of the beloved actor."
– Nicholas Meyer, screenwriter and film director
In the forty-year history of Star Trek, none of the television show's actors are more beloved than DeForest Kelley. His portrayal of Leonard "Bones" McCoy, the southern physician aboard the Starship Enterprise, brought an unaffected humanity to the groundbreaking space frontier series.
Jackson DeForest Kelley came of age in Depression-era Georgia. He was raised on the sawdust trail, a preacher's kid steeped in his father's literal faith and judgment. But De's natural artistic gifts called him to a different way, and a visit to California at seventeen showed a bright new world.
Theater and radio defined his early career – but it was a World War II training film he made while serving in the Army Air Corps that led to his first Paramount Pictures Studios contract.
After years of struggle, his lean, weathered look became well known in notable westerns and television programs such as You Are There and Bonanza. But his work on several pilots for writer-producer Gene Roddenberry changed his destiny ad the course of cultural history.
This thoroughly researched actor's life is about hard work and luck, loyalty and love. It is a journey that takes us... from sawdust to stardust.
"A baseball coach of some note once opined, 'Nice guys finish last.' Terry Lee Rioux's well-researched and readable From Sawdust to Stardust is warm, charming and inspirational – especially for those who work just out of the limelight, and never curse their luck. For Star Trek fans, it's a chance to re-enter the final frontier with a really nice guy."
– Ronald J. Drez, author of Voices of Valor and Remember D-Day

Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.


  • The Actor's Prayer
  • A Foreword by Harve Bennett
  • The Sawdust
  • The Preacher's Son
  • The Young Artist 1939-1942
  • Her Innocent Young Man 1942-1945
  • Cinderella Boy 1945-1948
  • The Actor's Life
  • The Cold Hunger 1947-1952
  • DeForest Lawn 1952-1956
  • The Reel Cowboy 1956-1959
  • Playing the Heavy 1960-1964
  • The Voyage
  • Starlight 1966
  • Dammit, Jim 1967
  • Rising Star 1968
  • DeForest Lawn Revisited 1969-1974
  • Beginner's Luck 1974-1978
  • The Starshine
  • I Must be McCoy
  • "Someone suggested they get Harve Bennett, Rich Man Poor Man – fix it in a minute"
  • That Green-Blooded Son of a Bitch 1983-1985
  • Any Problems, Just Call Me 1986-1987
  • Don't Say I Didn't Warn Ya
  • The Last Best Hope in the Universe for Peace 1990-1994
  • The Stardust
  • Note on the Sources
  • Notes