Sunday, August 17, 2014

R.I.P. Arlene Martel.

At TIAH Blog, we mourn the passing of actress Arlene Martel, on August 12, 2014, at the age of 78.

Arlene Martel has had the distinction of being featured in TWO of the all-time greatest works of science fiction presented on television. 

She was, of course, best known for the role of T’Pring in the ultra-classic STAR TREK episode “Amok Time” (1967), which took full advantage of her exotic beauty.  I can’t count the number of times, over the years, that I’ve seen “Amok Time”.  It’s one of those things you can never see too often, and is about as close to perfection – in terms of story, acting / casting, and music score – as TV sci-fi ever got.

Arlene Martel was no small part of the success of “Amok Time”.  Her unexpected “Challenge” is surprise enough, but her final scene with Spock, when she ultimately explains her startling and unanticipated actions in that unsettlingly cool demeanor, is both brilliant and unforgettable!

Somewhat lesser known than “Amok Time”, though it shouldn’t be, is “Demon with a Glass Hand”, a 1964 episode of THE OUTER LIMITS written by the great Harlan Ellison, which paired Arlene Martel with future I SPY hero Robert Culp. 

Together, “Amok Time” and “Demon with a Glass Hand” are two of the best sci-fi productions to emerge from what was a great era for televised science fiction and fantasy – and Arlene Martel can lay claim to both. 

In addition, she may have only had one line (“Room for one more, Honey!”), as the “Nightmare Nurse” / Flight Attendant in TWILIGHT ZONE’S “Twenty-Two” (1961, also featuring Jonathan Harris of LOST IN SPACE), but it was a darned memorable one! 
Creepy, Honey!
"I have chosen my Champion..."

"...My Champion is Special Guest Star Jonathan Harris!"

"I?  No!  No!  It Can't Be!  Oh, dear!  I'm allergic to fighting Vulcans to the death!  And, my BACK is quite the disaster area today!  SAVE ME!"

Lest we neglect other genres, let’s note another personal favorite Arlene Martel appearance in HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL “The Princess and the Gunfighter” (1961) where, as you might guess from the title, Paladin is hired by the ministers of a foreign land to bring back their “runaway princess”, who has escaped into the expanse of the American West.  

Richard Boone, as Paladin, and Arlene Martel, as “The Princess", find a nice level of chemistry for what becomes an enjoyable "two-person show". 

And, though it was a very small role, here's Arlene Martel on BEWITCHED as witch "Malvina" in "How Not to Lose Your Head to Henry VIII" (1971). 

Sure makes you witch... I mean WISH, we could have seen more of "Malvina" in other episodes! 

Ms.  Martel's vast list of credits can be found HERE at IMDB.

You'll find more credits than you think, because, early on, she billed herself as "Arline Sax"  - as seen below in HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, with THE OUTER LIMITS looking to be her first credit as "Arlene Martel". 

Click to Enlarge.

Rest in Peace, Arlene Martel... and thank you for all the great moments! 



TC said...

Looking at her filmography at imdb, I was struck by (1) how many classic sci-fi and spy-fi appearances she made, and (2) how many times I saw her without recognizing her.

Of course, I remember "T'Pring," and I also remembered she had a recurring role on Hogan's Heroes as a French Resistance agent code named "Tiger." But I didn't realize she was the same actress who played "Consuela" in the Outer Limits "Demon With a Glass Hand" episode. Or that she was the same actress who played a Russian officer in an "I Dream of Genie" episode, and who played a communist spy in an episode of The Monkees.

She also guest starred in episodes of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Wild Wild West, and The Six Million Dollar Man.

Her appearances in classic episodes of Star Trek, Outer Limits, and Twilight Zone should make her an icon for science fiction fans. In fact, any one of those episodes alone would make her noteworthy.

Her nickname, "the Chameleon," was well-earned.

Joe Torcivia said...


Now you can see why I had to limit the number of “appearance references” even within “Things I Like”, much less her overall resume! It’s often much easier, from my own personal view / likes / less-likes, etc. , to decide which things to highlight.

There were simply too many things to list – even when restricting it to those very “Things I Like” - many more of which you mention!

Quite a career, I’d say!

TC said...

"Quite a career," for sure.

I just realized that the name of that sitcom was "I Dream of JEANNIE," but then, Jeannie was a genie, so I was only half wrong.

And I also wish that Ms. Martel could have made more appearances on Bewitched as Malvina. But, looking at her vast list of credits, she must have been one of the busiest actresses in Hollywood. I don't know if she could have found the time.

Joe Torcivia said...

Oh, I knew what you meant, TC. And, yes… she was far busier than I’d ever imagined!