DeForest Kelley Up Close and Personal: A Harvest of Memories from the Fan Who Knew Him Best (Book Excerpt) by Kristine Smith

From the Chapter: STAR TREK CEREMONIES — 1991

Sue had asked her club members to send De cards and notes of congratulations for his upcoming star ceremony on the Walk of Fame scheduled for December 18 that year, so she could send them to him and Carolyn as part of their anniversary package. Carolyn called to tell me how choked up De was by the sentiments expressed therein, from all the fans who had responded to Sue’s request.

The card that I had sent De read: “Great men may be among us…but none compare to you.” I had taped a few small photos of De, De and me, and De and Carolyn inside the card and then written, “Congratulations on your STAR and for remaining the wonderful person you are! Love, Kris.” On the empty, inside facing page, I had quoted the trailer from Trek VI: “They have been our guides, our protectors, and our friends.” Beneath that, I had written, “How very fortunate I feel! Most fans have had only the reel McCoy as their guide, protector and friend—and are grateful. I have had DeForest Kelley as ‘all of the above.’ Your caring has transformed me into someone worthy of being cared about. Thank you. God Bless you. I love you.” For the accompanying letter, I created a special letterhead on my PC. The heading was respectfully engraved, “YOU DESERVE ALL OF LIFE’S GOOD THINGS. YOU ARE ONE OF LIFE’S GOOD THINGS.”

The letter read:

Dear, Dear De,

Where do I begin? Your star ceremony affords me the opportunity to get really serious (for once) and to pour out to you all the love, pride and respect you’re engendered – seemingly FOREVER. So where are the proper words to adequately express any of it?! sigh I’ll try…

Your skill as an actor is exceeded only by your skill as a wonderful human being. In a way, wish I had met you first in the way that I met Tippi – without knowing much, or caring much, about “who” you were as an artist. Why? Because it took me so long to get OVER seeing you primarily/chiefly as “my FAVORITE actor” with all the accompanying jitters and shyness and paranoia that that “awesome” perspective entails. It took a long time before I could genuinely relax in your presence and appreciate you as a real, flesh and blood human being who is special despite what you do for a living (instead of because of it).

That’s what I first responded to in Wenatchee in ’68 upon scrutinizing you from the sidewalk (before introducing myself): your genuine niceness. I stood fidgeting on the sidewalk, gauging whether or not you were going to disappoint me if I approached you for an autograph and a smile. (My initial fear was, “Do I really want to risk being turned off by an actor I’d really love to keep on liking?” It had happened before!)

Well! After studying the situation for several long minutes, it became abundantly apparent that you and Carolyn were very nice people. So that’s when I gathered the courage to step forward and open my mouth—and hope my heart wouldn’t leap out of it and land on the floorboard of your convertible! You deserve the star—and I mean this in the “old-fashioned” way: You deserve the honor to the degree for which stars were originally bestowed, not in the way they are too-often awarded nowadays (as a publicity gimmick). Your career has spanned (don’t say “Ouch!”) nearly five decades. You’re genuinely one of Hollywood’s decent, honorable guys (there might be four or five others, but their names escape me at the moment ☺). You do good deeds (quietly, which makes them even “gooder,” ‘cause they’re not done for the sake of publicity). You’re a gentlemen star (who’s an accomplished and convincing “bad-ass” only in the movies). You meet, exceed and annihilate the criteria for being awarded an “old- fashioned” star. In fact, I can easily envision you being named MAN OF THE YEAR, no problem…no exaggeration…no stretch of the imagination. I think the Creator (the real “Big Bird of the Galaxy”) delights in you and sees you in the same way He sees Yosemite or a healthy new bud on a rose bush: as a damn’ fine piece of workmanship, if He does say so Himself…

I don’t know what else to say…how else to express how proud I am of you… how lucky I feel to have “fallen” for you…how blessed I am to know you well enough to know I’m right about all of the above! You are an inspiration to me. “When I grow up” — I want to be just like you.

I love you, De.

Kris

*A Pacific Northwest native, Kristine M. Smith’s freelance writing career was launched by actor DeForest Kelley more than forty years ago. It was Kelley and his wife Carolyn who encouraged Kris to try Hollywood on for size, which she did from 1989 to 2003. Kris served as Mr. Kelley’s personal assistant and caregiver during the final months of his life and presented heartfelt sentiments about her mentor at Paramount Studios’ memorial service for him in 1999. She has written two books about him: DeForest Kelley Up Close and Personal, A Harvest of Memories from the Fan Who Knew Him Best (2016) and The Enduring Legacy of DeForest Kelley: Actor, Healer, Friend.

In Hollywood, Kris served as an administrative assistant and secretarial floater to writers, producers and—later—information technology professionals at various studios. Most of her Hollywood career was spent at Warner Bros. Studios.

The author of seven books, Kris’s sixth title, Serval Son: Spots and Stripes Forever—a cautionary true story about what it’s like to own, and be owned by, a wild cat for seventeen years—reached the #2 and #4 spots at Amazon in two niche categories when it debuted in September 2011.

Kris’s 2012 title, Settle for Best: Satisfy the Winner You Were Born to Be contains     encouragement and instructions to entrepreneurs and anyone else who wants to leave a business, personal, or family legacy that will resonate for generations to come. Settle for Best stood at #1 in the Motivational Self-Help category at Amazon for three days when it debuted.

Kris loves dancing with words and interacting with people. You can reach Kris at kris@wordwhisperer.net. Please visit her website for descriptions, excerpts and reviews of her books at YellowBalloonPublications.com.