Trekmate is saddened to report the passing of Arlene Martel, who died on August 12 following a heart attack. The veteran television and film actress had a career that spanned parts of seven decades, dating back to the golden age of television, but she was arguably best known for her role as T’Pring in the “Amok Time” episode of Star Trek: The Original Series.
The character — Spock’s betrothed, whom she spurns — was a sexy, exotic presence in the episode, the first and only episode set on Vulcan. Martel had previously auditioned for roles in the episodes “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and “Catspaw.”
Martel’s other credits included the popular Outer Limits episode “Demon with a Glass Hand” (written by Harlan Ellison), the “Twenty-Two” episode of The Twilight Zone, Hogan’s Heroes, My Favorite Martian, Bewitched, Columbo, Battlestar Galactica, Knot’s Landing, A Walk to Remember, Brothers & Sisters, and Star Trek: Of Gods and Men.
Talking to StarTrek.com in 2010, Martel spoke fondly of her brief but important visit to the Star Trek universe and noted the enduring popularity of “Amok Time,” which remains a fan favorite. “It does hold up,” she said. “If it didn’t, they wouldn’t re-run it as much as they do. I just saw it a couple of weeks ago. It’s re-run almost more than any other episode, and it seems to be so popular because of the mating issue. To see a Vulcan in the heat of his sexuality is a very interesting thing. It’s interesting to see anyone in that situation, if the story is good, but to see someone who’s usually so repressed going through it, I think that captured people’s imaginations. I think that’s the fascination about it. And then to see how this woman deals with that, and the decisions and choices she makes.”
“My performance, I think, holds up quite well, especially visually,” she continued. “I didn’t have that much to say, but I think you see me and my reactions, and my presence is felt. Looking at it, I can see why they cast me in that role.”
Martel, who was also a regular on the convention and autograph show circuit, was 78 years old.