This fan favorite Star Trek episode pays tribute to DeForest Kelley's rise to stardom
"Spectre of the Gun" took Star Trek fans to the O.K. Corral, a place Bones had visited twice before.
In the third season of Star Trek, "Spectre of the Gun" stands out because it sent the Enterprise crew into the Wild West, where they discover it's the exact date of the history-making gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Immediately in the episode, the Enterprise crew gets mistaken for the Cowboys, the opposing gang famously involved in this fight, pitted against Doc Holliday as well as the famous lawmen Virgil Earp and his brothers Wyatt and Morgan.
For this episode, Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy falls into the shoes of Tom McLaury, a Cowboy outlaw who history knows definitely died at the O.K. Corral shoot-out, and this is the fate that the Enterprise crew must try to avoid if they wish to save their own necks on Star Trek.
What you may not realize is that the actor who plays Dr. McCoy, DeForest Kelley, had been to the O.K. Corral before, not once, but twice.
Kelley first visited the O.K. Corral playing one of the Cowboys in a 1955 episode of the TV series You Are There, but he more famously played one of the Earp brothers in the sensational 1957 Western blockbuster Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
In 1957, a Los Angeles Times critic praised this movie as being on par with some of the genre's best like Shane and High Noon, writing, "The more discriminating moviegoer as well as the avowed Western fan will have little hesitancy in putting his OK on Gunfight at the O.K. Corral."
Kelley featured in this movie alongside a star-studded cast that saw Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday, Burt Lancaster as Wyatt Earp, and playing the Cowboys, as the Enterprise crew did, was the "largest assortment of certified badmen yet rounded up for a single Western," including Lee Van Cleef and Dennis Hopper.
This memorable Western was nominated for two Oscars, and for Kelley, it was a major turning point in his acting career, which up to that point had been such a failure that he was considering quitting acting altogether.
By 1960, Kelley's career had turned around, though, and he was no longer seen as someone who only played heavies in Westerns, but now viewed as an actor with range.
Finally, he was considered someone to watch at 40 years old. Before that he was only known for having clean fingernails.
"While you may not recognize the name," a critic in The Oakland Tribune wrote, "Kelley's face is familiar on TV. He invariably plays the role of a sleek, cunning hoodlum who always stands outside the door, paring his fingernails, with an evil eye on the hero. Because of this Kelley is known as having the cleanest fingernails in Hollywood."
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral helped Kelley break out of what The Kansas City Star reported in 2005 he considered his only way forward as an actor until then: "His fate was the bad hombre, and his genre was the Western."
Of course, a lot of that break-out from Westerns had to do with meeting Leonard Nimoy and Gene Roddenberry on the sets of Westerns, so that when Roddenberry was ready to create Star Trek, he had both actors already in mind.
Originally, he wanted Kelley for Spock.
Kelley saw his future more in Bones, though, and in "Spectre of the Gun," fans can consider the episode a tribute to how the O.K. Corral enabled Kelley's rise to stardom.
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Earp and Holliday's antagonists were , in each iteration, including "Star Trek," actually THE CLANTON GANG, not "the Cowboys."
all our yesterdays, spock and mccoy go back in time, mariette hartley
a taste of armageddon, war by computers without the blood but with the killing
balance of terror, mark lenard as romulan commander
the city on the edge of forever, joan collins, back in time to the 1930s
the cloud minders, miners revolt against the cloud dwellers
dagger of the mind, james gregory, morgan woodward, marianna hill penal colony mind machine
the deadly years, kirk, spock, mccoy, scotty get old from radiation
devil in the dark, silicon creature
the doomsday machine, a destructive machine is loose, and william windom tries to stop it
the enemy within, kirk is split into two, good and evil, due to transporter malfunction
the enterprise incident, kirk and spock steal a cloaking device from romulans
errand of mercy, the organians stop the klingon war
mirror, mirror, the parallel universe where kirk, spock et all are evil, and spock has a goatee
mudd's women, including Karen Steele, drug makes women more physically attractive
the naked time, strange disease on a planet causes crew to act drunk
the omega glory, morgan woodward, yangs and cons
a piece of the action, planet like the chicago mobs
plato's stepchildren, kirk kisses uhura
requiem for methuselah, the story of flint, the thousands year old man, james daly, louise thorel
return of the archons, landru controls the society
the savage curtain, kirk, spock, with lincoln and sarek, fight the bad guys, genghis khan et all
space seed, ricardo montalbon as khan
spectre of the gun, back to the gunfight at ok corral
the trouble with tribbles, whit bissell, william schallert
what are little girls made of, androids created on a planet, with Lurch (Ted Cassidy)
who mourns for adonais, apollo is discovered on a planet, centuries after he lived on earth
Unbelievable access during a time when people could be trusted to be civil to one another.
The Paradise Syndrome.
A few years ([mumble][mumble] back, a fellow in my Toastmasters* group gave a very nice speech having to do with college football. In the speech, he referred several time to "the SEC". At the end of the evening, I complimented him on his talk, but said to him, "I'm puzzled by one thing. What, exactly does the Securities and Exchange Commission have to do with college football?"
A football fan would have known immediately that he was actually referring to the "South Eastern Conference". But speakers (and writers) should not assume such knowledge on the part of their audience. Define your references at least once.
[*For anyone not familiar with Toastmasters, it's a wonderful organization for improving your speaking and presentation skills. https://www.toastmasters.org/]
But how would we ever know what they were really thinking??
We could start with Perry Mason! Have you ever seen any actor as straight-faced as Raymond Burr??
He did that crazy alternate character appearance the other night. And I thought he was going to become unglued.
He played many crazed sadistic villains. He was a very underrated actor, simply brilliant.
btw: I've been on the "40 Acres" lot in Culver City, which MGM used.
They moved to Hollywood because of the better light. But it was undeveloped, so land was cheap. Hence the studios bought up big areas. Build a set, and then leave it up, to be used for something else.
These were sets, just outdoors.
In the seventies, it became too costly, or maybe demand for land meant selling it was too tempting.
Once the studios sold off the backlots, they had to film indoors and on location.
As every fan knows, one of the most interesting guest-star casting serendipities put Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner and Werner Klemperer into a MFU S1Ep9 episode called The Project Strigas Affair (1964) two years before ST:TOS aired. These actors already had a lot of film in their resumes. But the ability to see them within the same hour (even without interacting) provided an easy way to evaluate their styles of acting, together. Roddenberry already knew key players (RV, LN, etc.) and what he needed was ensemble-worthy actors to fill the positions of other character-personalities he had in mind. Nimoy was certainly interesting and unique enough. Shatner demonstrated range even within those same 50 minutes, as well as his flair for women. Klemperer had that no-nonsense appeal from the start. And the off-putting nature of the storyline gave DM plenty to do. The point being, is that it’s easy to see how these actors got plugged into the roles that later on made them famous. I never did understand how anybody but Nimoy could carry off Spock and be at-home with his co-stars. These actors were rightly matched-up, given an act of fate.
It ‘s rare to catch a complimentary MFU episode anymore, but check out the video in this hyperlink to see that Strigas episode again. Directed by Joseph Sargent (credited multiple times) who understood the “personality” of the MFU series very
well. Even for those not MFU fans, Strigas has an interesting, complicated plot and provides a lot of actor-drama and movement!