Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Mike Lynch/DeForest Kelley Connection

I remember one time when I was a kid, my dad was getting off a plane (must've just come back from a University Film Association convention) and he greeted me first. I mean, I was there with the whole family, and I distnctly remember being singled out FIRST.

Dad had a "second-hand handshake" from DeForest Kelley; a friend of his had met Kelley, shook HIS hand, and then this friend met Dad, shook HIS hand, and dad SAVED the next handshake for ME! Wow!

It was cool. Hey, growing up in the Midwest, that is as close to a Hollywood celebrity as one can expect to get.

So today I watching this old Kelley flick on YouTube (More about this 1949-50 program here.), and I suddenly remembered something:


It's true.

Without my relative, there would have been some other guy as Dr. McCoy!

My great grandfather was Austin Goetz, one half of a vaudeville act. The other half was his wife, Mimi Fae. They toured successfully -- albeit modestly -- throughout the Midwest. My Mom still has all their review clippings that they pasted in a scrapbook.

In the later years, after decades of performing, they retired from the stage. Mimi Fae turned to Christian Science, and husband Austin wrote plays. Most of these were comedies of manners, rather dated droll plays that he hammered out on his maual typewriter and mailed into the Samuel French company. The chief appeal of these plays were that they were designed for one set, with a smallish group of actors.

Let's turn to the fellow who would be known as Dr. McCoy.

30 years before STAR TREK, De Kelley was the teen-aged son of a reverend and lived in Decatur, Georgia. In the 1930s, when he was in high school --

He dated young ladies under the Reverend's strict eye, and therefore not very late, not very often, and not very successfully. He did manage to enjoy female company, however, acting in the Decatur Girls High School production of He Couldn't Take It, a comedy in three acts by Austin Goetz.
-- From Sawdust to Stardust; The Biography of DeForest Kelley, Star Trek's Dr. McCoy
By Terry Lee Rioux

I think that this play, so early in his life, helped him decide to be an actor. I mean, this was a way to hang out with girls! My great grandfather's play gave De Kelley a cool way to hang out with the chicks and get attention!

Oh, and one of Austin Goetz's plays, "Hillbilly Courtship," was performed this year by the Dupuyer Community Players in Montana.

This is pretty good stuff for a kid from Iowa!

PS When I was in a junior high variety show at my Ohio junior high, my great grandmother commented how wonderful it was to hear that someone in the family was FINALLY going back into the thee-uh-tuh!


Mark Anderson said...

I'm sure I heard Kelley say once "Damn it, Jim, I'm an actor thatnks to Austin Goetz!"

(BTW, sorry I haven't commented earlier, for some reason your blog isn't showing new articles in my RSS reader... :( )

celebdun said...

This may be a really old post but I just read this and it made my dad :) I love De so much!

Mike Lynch said...

Thanks, celebdun, for those kind words.