Arlene Martel was a versatile and talented actress who appeared in many classic TV shows in the 1960s and 1970s, such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Hogan’s Heroes, Columbo, and The Twilight Zone. However, she is best remembered by sci-fi fans for her role as T’Pring, the Vulcan bride of Mr. Spock in the Star Trek episode “Amok Time”. In this article, we will explore the life and career of Arlene Martel, as well as the cause and date of her death.
Early Life and Career
Arlene Martel was born as Arline Greta Sax on April 14, 1936, in the Bronx, New York. She was the daughter of Austrian Jewish immigrants who lived in poverty. When she was 12 years old, she auditioned for and gained entrance to the prestigious High School of the Performing Arts in New York. She graduated with the school’s top drama award and began her professional career on Broadway.
She moved to Hollywood in the late 1950s and changed her name to Arlene Martel. She quickly established herself as a guest star on various TV shows, often playing characters of different ethnicities and nationalities. She was nicknamed “The Chameleon” by casting directors and Hollywood insiders for her ability to transform her appearance and master accents and dialects.
Star Trek Fame
Arlene Martel’s most iconic role was that of T’Pring, the Vulcan woman who was betrothed to Mr. Spock since childhood. The episode “Amok Time” aired in September 1967 and was the first one to be set on Spock’s home planet of Vulcan. The plot involved Spock returning to Vulcan to undergo a ritual mating or die. However, T’Pring had fallen in love with another Vulcan named Stonn and challenged Spock to a fight to the death with Captain Kirk as his opponent.
Martel’s performance as T’Pring was praised by critics and fans alike for its subtlety and complexity. She portrayed T’Pring as a cold, logical, and manipulative woman who used her intelligence and cunning to achieve her goals. She also had a memorable scene with Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock, where they exchanged a Vulcan salute and a kiss.
Martel later said that she had no idea that the role would be so memorable and influential. She said that she was honored to be part of Star Trek history and that she enjoyed attending fan conventions and meeting her admirers.
Other Roles and Projects
Arlene Martel continued to work as an actress until 2013. She appeared in many other TV shows, such as The Outer Limits, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, The Fugitive, Mission: Impossible, The Six Million Dollar Man, Battlestar Galactica, Brothers & Sisters, and more. She also had roles in some movies, such as Hong Kong (1961), The Glass Cage (1964), Chatterbox (1977), Angel’s Flight (1965), and A Walk in the Clouds (1995).
Besides acting, Martel also worked as a screenwriter and an acting coach. She wrote a screenplay called “The Last Tango in Vegas”, which was based on her relationship with James Dean. She also taught acting classes at various venues, such as UCLA Extension, Beverly Hills Playhouse, Lee Strasberg Institute, and her own studio.
Personal Life and Death
Arlene Martel was married three times and had three children: Adam Palmer, Avra Douglas, and Jodaman Douglas. She also had a granddaughter named Molly Rose Brutsman. She was romantically involved with James Dean for several years before his death in 1955. She also dated Cary Grant for a brief period.
Martel died on August 12, 2014, at the age of 78 in Santa Monica, California. The cause of her death was a heart attack. She had previously battled breast cancer and had undergone a heart bypass surgery. Her death was mourned by her family, friends, colleagues, and fans. Leonard Nimoy tweeted: “Saying goodbye to T’Pring, Arlene Martel. A lovely talent.”
Arlene Martel was a remarkable actress who left a lasting impression on many TV viewers with her diverse and captivating roles. She will always be remembered as T’Pring, the Vulcan bride of Spock who challenged him to a duel with Kirk. She was also a talented writer and teacher who shared her passion for acting with others. She was a beloved mother, grandmother, friend, and icon who passed away too soon.