Friday, January 10, 2020

BEYOND STAR TREK BLOGATHON: DeForest Kelley on Zane Grey Theatre


The Beyond Star Trek blogathon is the brainchild of our hosts Quiggy of The Midnite Drive-In and Hamlette's Soliloquy. The blogathon explores the careers of Star Trek actors beyond and before their involvement with the influential and enduring series. Your exploration begins HERE and HERE.

DeForest Kelley
January 20, 1920 - June 11, 1999

DeForest Kelley is immortalized in pop culture for making the role of Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy on Star Trek such a memorable and beloved character in the franchise. Nonetheless, it is fitting that Mr. Kelley was awarded the In Memoriam citation from the Golden Boot Awards, presented by the Motion Picture and Television Fund for significant contributions to the western genre. His film and television credits include numerous westerns films including Tension at Table Rock, 1956, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 1957, Warlock, 1959, and Gunfight at Comanche Creek, 1963. 

Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, John Hudson, DeForest Kelley
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral directed by John Sturges

DeFrest Kelley's television western appearances are plentiful beginning with The Lone Ranger through to Gunsmoke, Rawhide, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Trackdown, The Virginian, and Bonanza before settling in on the little series Gene Roddenberry touted to executives as "Wagon Train in space."

DeForest Kelley
Warlock directed by Edward Dmytryk

Dick Powells Zane Grey Theater (1956-1961) provided DeForest Kelley with a paycheque and the chance to display his acting versatility in the four guest spots looked at here. The anthology western series was produced by Four Star Productions (founders: Dick Powell, David Niven, Charles Boyer, and Joel McCrea. McCrea bowed out early on and was replaced by Ida Lupino). Zane Grey Theater ran on CBS from 1956 to 1961.

STAGE FOR TUCSON
Written by John McGreevey and Harold Shumate
Directed by Bernard Girard
First aired on Friday, November 16, 1956

"What's the matter with you -- with everybody? One failure, one hurt and you think you can spend the rest of your life feeling sorry for yourself!"

The usually quiet stop at the Dragoon Springs waystation, run by Sandy Neal (Mona Freeman) will be the site of violence and transformation. Marshal Tharpe (Rusty Lane) has word a notorious bank robber and murderer has escaped Las Cruces on the incoming stage to Tucson. They must keep the passengers at the station until the arrival of a neighbouring rancher (Tyler McVey) who can identify the criminal. Will the murderer's gang arrive first?


The disparate group includes a drummer (Eddie Albert), a one-armed veteran of the Civil War (John Ericson), a disgraced doctor (Ian McDonald), and a runaway couple. Les Porter (DeForest Kelley) has convinced the married May Farrell (Jaclynne Greene) to run away with him, and her husband's money. It is evident from their testy exchanges that things are not going well. Porter is only interested in the money and guilt is overwhelming Mrs. Farrell.

Porter's true character, a chance at redemption for the doctor and the soldier, and a new life for pretty and feisty Sandy await those who stand up to villainy and bloodshed.

VILLAGE OF FEAR
Written by Antony Ellis
Directed by Christian Nyby
First aired on Friday, March 1, 1957

"Sometimes violence is the only way. I wish it was different."

Allan Raikes (David Niven), a traveling bookseller is surprised to ride into a deserted town and then shocked to be taken hostage by a gang of thieves and murderers. Brill (George Wallace) had ridden into town with his gang to rob a gold shipment. In a shootout, his kid brother was killed and Brill has hanged the sheriff and taken the townspeople hostage until they reveal his brother's shooter.

The "book man" has the respect of the outlaw for his knowledge, and is thrown in with the frightened hostages and tasked with seeking out the outlaw's killer. Raikes will use his experience as a soldier and his knowledge of human nature to help the townspeople in their plight.


Holton (Peter Hansen) and Donnelly (Ross Elliot) are stable forces in the group, but nerves are frayed and the future seems hopeless. Sherm Pickard (DeForest Kelley) is almost certain he knows who shot the young outlaw. His fear shows in his proclamations and actions. Is he a loose cannon or someone who can be depended upon in the fight for the lives of all?

SHADOW OF A DEAD MAN
Written by Frederick Louis Fox and Aaron Spelling
Directed by Robert Gordon
First aired on Friday, April 11, 1958

"I guess we all got reasons for the things we do."

Logan Wheeler (DeForest Kelley) believes he has completed a question. He has captured Raney Benson (Barry Sullivan), wanted for bank robbery. It is not a purely mercenary act on Logan's part. His father Zachary Wheeler (Carl Benton Reid) lost his $600 savings in the robbery and Logan wants the reward for his father and sister Jessie (Whitney Blake), whom he hasn't seen in years.


On the return trip, the two men learn about each other's lives. Benson is not a lifetime criminal. His ranch went under financially, and this was his first "job". He didn't get any of the money, just a wanted poster and a reward. When Logan is bitten by a rattlesnake Benson has the opportunity to escape, but he opts to take Logan safely to his family. Logan Wheeler dies imploring his family to help Benson.

Zachary and Jessie bury Logan with a headstone proclaiming he is Raney Benson. Despite her engagement to Mark Wilkins (Richard Shannon), Jessie doesn't try to fight her growing attraction to Benson. Zachary can see that the feeling between his daughter and the bank robber is genuine and worries for her future. Mark discerns the truth and goes to Sheriff Kenney (Fred Kohler Jr.), whose arrival brings an unexpected twist to the story of the star crossed lovers.

CALICO BAIT
Written by Raphael Hayes
Directed by Robert Ellis Miller
First aired on Thursday, March 31, 1960

Kelley's final episode on Zane Grey Theater is this 4th season episode. I was unable to access the episode online and, as far as I can tell, that season has yet to be released on DVD. I probably saw it when we had an all-western channel in the vicinity 20 years ago.

The premise as a Deputy (Robert Culp) on the trail of a murderer (Burt Douglas). He uses the outlaw's girlfriend (Inger Stevens) as bait and comes up against trouble in the form of his own attraction to the woman, and opposition from a fellow named Swain (DeForest Kelley). I imagine someone out there has a clearer memory of Calico Bait.


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DeForest Kelly at home, 1968

Doesn't this look like a comfortable place to sit back and enjoy a western or two?













34 comments:

  1. I watched GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL. I also saw DEFOREST KELLEY in the western movie TOWN TAMER with DANA ANDREWS and TERRY MOORE. Miss Moore turned 91 three days ago!

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    1. It is heartening how many actors from the era are still around. TCM has a lot of interviewing to catch up on.

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  2. And of course, there was that Trek episode where they’re on a planet that resembles the set of a Wild West town and they end up replaying the OK Corral shootout. Kelley was part of that too.

    Were these teleplays adapted from Grey stories?

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    1. You can well imagine that Spectre of the Gun is a particular favourite of mine. I love it when worlds collide.

      During the beginning of the series, they used some Grey stories but as time went on it was more original stuff and the famous western writer was there for name recognition.

      Aaron Spelling was one of the young actors working at Four Star Productions. Dick Powell advised Spelling to try writing and then convinced him he would find success as a producer. Good eye.

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  3. Like many, I only knew Kelley as the acerbic Bones and was not aware of any of his other roles. (Unlike Shatner, who I saw in everything from Judgement at Nuremberg to Twilight Zone to TJ Hooker,) I need to check these out!
    - Chris

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    1. Now that the door has been opened, I imagine you discovering Mr. Kelley popping up every time you turn around! The Zane Grey Theater series is very interesting with amazing guest stars. The anthology programs of the past bring me a lot of enjoyment.

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  4. Did you know that on his deathbed that Kelley told Shatner he wished they could do one more western together? I have heard of this series but have yet to see an episode.

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    1. I did not know that story. It goes straight to my heart.

      There are some episodes of the show on YouTube, and being a half hour series, minus commercials, they don't take up a lot of your time but leave many good memories.

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  5. Wiki has a nice section about this show. Some of the guest stars were DENVER PYLE and JOHN DEHNER. GINGER ROGERS did one where she owned a ranch and had one daughter. Speaking of a ranch and a daughter-like THE BIG VALLEY-BARBARA STANWYCK did 4 eps, just like she did 4 of WAGON TRAIN.

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    1. One of Barbara Stanwyck's episodes of Zane Grey Theatre was a takeoff on Double Indemnity co-starring David Janssen. Janssen's first series was was Richard Diamond, Private Detective for Four Star Productions and, of course, they produced The Big Valley.

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  6. I always enjoy seeing DeForest Kelley's appearances in Westerns, especially as he so often plays villains! It is interesting seeing him playing characters as far removed from Bones McCoy as one can get!

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    1. So true. It enhanced my appreciation for his talent.

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  7. Funny, before ST, Kelley was a great western actor. Love him in Warlock and Gunfight! Too bad that they didn't offer him a role in something like Silverado. He would have been great!

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    1. Oh, that would have been marvelous! I wish you were in charge of movies.

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  8. You make everything sound like something I need to see ASAP. I hope streaming services are paying you commission...

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    1. Ha-ha-ha. You made me smile.

      I'll have to get the daughter to draw up a new logo. Caftan Woman whipping everyone toward a screen.

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  9. I watched some episodes of Dick Zane Grey Theatre as a kid, but don't remember these specific episodes. The writer of the first one, John McGreevey, went on to write for The Waltons and many other TV shows. As for DeForest Kelly, he appeared in a lot of movies and TV series prior to Star Trek as you noted. Of his pre-Trek performances, I always remember him best as one of the Earp brothers in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

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    1. The only problem I have with Zane Grey Theatre is that I'll tell myself I'll take the time for one episode, but I find myself watching more.

      As an actor, DeForest Kelley fit in any setting he needed to, but I think he was most comfortable in the western.

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  10. Who were some of your favorite guest stars on this show?

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    1. Everybody! Edward G. Robinson, Marsha Hunt, Barbara Stanwyck, Ida Lupino, James Whitmore, Eddie Albert, Robert Ryan, Robert Vaughan, Chester Morris, Cloris Leachman, Don Grady, Beverly Garland, Carolyn Jones, Ralph Bellamy, John Payne, Robert Culp, Mary Astor, Beulah Bondi, Constance Ford, Audrey Totter, Sammy Davis Jr., Brian Donlevy, Raymond Massey. As I said, everybody.

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  11. These all sound so good! I just got season one of ZGT, and it doesn't list eps on the back, but it does list Kelley as a guest star, so I must have at least one of these. Looking forward to digging into them!

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    1. Haha! I just used a coupon on DeepDiscount and got seasons 2 and 3 for a steal. So now I definitely will get to watch all of these! Eventually...

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  12. BEVERLY GARLAND was good in westerns! She did some eps of GUNSMOKE. Of course she later got to work with DON GRADY(what a cutie!) on MY THREE SONS where he was ROBBIE and she became his stepmom BARBARA. Did you know that BEVERLY had a daughter that was on SANTA BARBARA and played KELLY CAPWELL after ROBIN WRIGHT left the show? Her name is CARRINGTON GARLAND and she later left show business and became an interior decorator.

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    1. I enjoyed Beverly Garland in everything I've ever seen her in, especially Decoy, a syndicated police show from 1957. She must have been one of the first police women on television.

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  13. P.S. That's kind of funny that BEVERLY played BARBARA and then her daughter was on SANTA BARBARA. I didn't see the show very often but I remember the cast included NICOLAS COSTER, JANIS PAIGE as his mother (replacing DAME JUDITH ANDERSON), LEIGH MCCLOSKEY, ROBIN MATTSON and CHRISTOPHER NORRIS-who is definitely female(HA HA). I know MISS NORRIS from TRAPPER JOHN, M.D. and eps of HOTEL and MURDER, SHE WROTE to name a few. MISS PAIGE joined TRAPPER JOHN for its last season but MISS NORRIS wasn't on the show that year. I didn't like it that they never told where GLORIA went. Christopher played that part for the first six seasons.

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    1. I didn't have the opportunity to see much of Santa Barbara, but they certainly had a top-notch cast. I remember Christopher Norris most from her time on The Edge of Night.

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  14. Another anthology show you like is TWILIGHT ZONE. CAROL SERLING, the widow of ROD SERLING, has died at 91. She was married to Rod from 1948 until his passing in 1975 at the age of 50. Later this year Rod will be gone for 45 years. Carol and Rod had two daughters.

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    1. Rod Serling left a lasting legacy in his writing and through his family. William Shatner was in some well-known episodes. I wrote about Nick in Time for a Richard Matheson blogathon.

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  15. NATALIE TRUNDY, who was on the TWILIGHT ZONE episode VALLEY OF THE SHADOW with ED NELSON, died in December at the age of 79. The ep had JAMES DOOHAN best known for.....STAR TREK. He was one of your fellow Canadians. Miss Trundy was in four of the PLANET OF THE APES movies and did two eps of PERRY MASON.

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    1. I enjoy seeing James Doohan in roles other than Scotty. Sad news about Natalie Trundy.

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  16. It doesn't surprise me that DeForest Kelley did westerns--he sure had the dry drawl thing down pat. :-)

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    1. It is serendipitous that a large part of his career coincided with the popularity of westerns.

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