General News

EXTRA: He's Dead, Jim (and Members of the Academy)!

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Mar 19, 2001 | 11:50am EST

"Star Trek" fans have a Bones to pick with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. On Sunday's Oscar telecast, actor DeForest Kelley, aka Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy of the Starship Enterprise crew, was excluded from the annual montage of Actors Who Died Since The Last Oscars -- even though the man had impeccable credentials, having died himself June 11 at age 79.

As Bones himself might say: "He's dead, Jim!"

Trekkers, understandably, are not taking the snub lightly.

Soon after the Oscars, the alt.startrek Internet newsgroup was buzzing. Asked one post: "Did anyone else notice that the Academy totally snubbed DeForest Kelley and John Colicos [the evil Count Baltar from the "Battlestar Galactica" TV series, who died March 6] during the memoriam section tonight? What the hell?"

Turns out that lots of other people did notice and, as of Tuesday, more than 100 messages about Kelley had been posted in several newsgroups.

Fandom is fired up.

"It was a tragedy that DeForest Kelley wasn't announced in the 'in memoriam' tributes. We should all call the Academy and let them know we are upset," Mary Jensen, author of the DeForest Kelley Tribute Page (http://members.tripod.com/~Nimoy_Kelley/kelley.html), tells Hollywood.com.

"If they tell you, 'He's just a TV personality and not a motion-picture personality,' then let them know he made 20 movies and this his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is for his contribution to the motion picture industry," says Jensen.

Jensen's got a point: Kelley had quite a film career, dating back to the 1940s and '50s, when he played bad guys in westerns such as "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (1957), "Raintree County" (1957) and "Apache Uprising" (1966). Heck, he was even in "Night of the Lepus," a 1972 movie about giant bunny rabbits terrorizing people in the Australian outback.

Even his "Trek" gig wasn't strictly small screen. In addition to playing the crusty physician (who often complained, "I'm just a country doctor!'' when treating intergalactic diseases) on the original "Star Trek" TV show (1966-69), Kelley starred in the first six "Trek" feature films.

So what happened? Why was Bones forgotten, while other recently deceased Hollywood personalities -- Hedy Lamarr, Desmond Llewelyn ("Q" from the James Bond flicks), even Jim Varney (late star of the "Ernest" movies) -- were paid tribute? (As for John Colicos, we can kind of understand why he didn't make the Oscars cut, as he was mostly a TV actor.)

Hollywood.com first asked the Academy's John Pavlik about the Kelley oversight Sunday night, while the Oscars were still in progress, and he was perplexed.

"Who?" Pavlik asked, finally surmising that "somebody must've forgotten" the sci-fi icon.

On Wednesday, Jane Labonte, another Academy spokesperson, was equally devoid of knowledge and an explanation, saying the memorial montage is put together by a free-lance production team which, now that the festivities are over, has disbanded for the year.

"I have no clue how they pick them [the dead stars featured in the montage]," Labonte said.

And although some "Star Trek" fans are complaining in cyberspace, Labonte said none have called the Academy to berate the Oscars personally.

Yes, but their phasers are set on stun.

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