Those of you who have been around Trekland for a year or two or maybe even longer know well that I always mark every Jan. 20 as the birthday of one beloved Jackson DeForest Kelley, aka the first and legendary Leonard McCoy, MD of that little sci-fi show a lot of people still remember, with a moment and a peek at a new photo.
De would have been 97 today… but died in 1999 of stomach cancer, the first of the original regulars to pass. Here’s our hold-the-press memorial issue of Communicator (left), one of my first and certainly my most invested issue of my seven-year tenure at the old official fan club’s pro magazine.
This photo above is by Stan Burns, one of many taken one day in 1973 that yielded the “civilian” version of De’s headshot that year for David Gerrold‘s classic The World of Star Trek, alongside similar spreads for all his castmates.
Trekland veterans also know I have waxed on and often, even amid that bevy of legendary cast and iconic characters, about De as my favorite actor and McCoy as my fave character—for reasons I’ve cited often. More recently, it’s also dawned on me how the prism we view all of them, even De’s McCoy, is not static, and changes both with our own lives and evolving world events and mood.
That’s never been more true than today, this Jan. 20—which also, it occurred to me, was only the third Inauguration Day to cycle around and share De’s day since the founding of Trekland in 2008. I’d never even thought about that one before. I guess there’s a reason why this year brought it out.
Dammit he’s a doctor not a politician, yes, but I can think of no time like the present to be glad that the echoes and accents of De’s sweet soul, the one that infused McCoy with such power and empathy as to endear him to fans forever, might provide a needed boost as they hover over this year’s posthumous birthday.
Well, either a boost or a cleanse.
Happy birthday, De—you still look great for 97!