In 1962, Arlene Martel made her first of two appearances on Perry Mason, as Fiona Cregan in “The Case of the Absent Artist”. Later, she guest starred as Sandra Dunkel in “The Case of the Dead Ringer” (1966) when Raymond Burr played a dual role, that of Mason and as the actual murderer, Grimes. Martel appeared in the Star Trek episode “Amok Time” (1967) as T’Pring and the original The Outer Limits episode “Demon with a Glass Hand” (1964). Martel played the princess Sarafina on Have Gun – Will Travel, the evil witch Malvina on Bewitched, the French Underground contact Tiger in five episodes of Hogan’s Heroes, a female cosmonaut on I Dream of Jeannie, a Hungarian immigrant Magda on The Fugitive episode “The Blessings of Liberty” (1966), and, memorably, as the nurse who repeatedly utters the sinister phrase “Room for one more, Honey!” at the entrance to a hospital morgue and as the stewardess at the door of a doomed airplane in the Twilight Zone episode “Twenty-Two”. She also appeared in the season-one episode of The Twilight Zone “What You Need”. Martel was billed (as Arline Sax) as a featured actress in the episode of Route 66 called “The Newborn”, in which she gives birth. She also made guest appearances on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible (season 4, episode 20, 1970), appeared as Asastia in Here Come the Brides (1970, episode “To The Victor”), The Wild Wild West, Battlestar Galactica, the 1968 movie Angels from Hell, two appearances on The Monkees, and the adult comedy film Chatterbox (1977). She played Interpol agent Violette in The Six Million Dollar Man episode “The Last Fourth of July” (season 1, episode 13, 1974). Martel appeared as a featured actress in the Gunsmoke episode titled “The Squaw” (1975). Martel also appeared multiple times on Hogan’s Heroes (1965 – 1971) playing an Underground agent named “Tiger”. In 1974, Martel was billed as “Tasha Martelle”, playing secretary “Marty Bach” (eventual mistaken murder victim) in an episode of The Rockford Files_(season_4), Episode 2, titled “Trouble in Chapter 17”.
Martel received top billing when she starred as the commandant in charge of the Russian road crew in Zoltan, Hound of Dracula (1978), although it was only a bit part lasting less than five minutes of the 97 minute movie. She also received credit in a font so large that it was almost twice as large as that used for Reggie Nalder or Michael Pataki, the leads who occupied most of the screen throughout the movie. She appeared in the Star Trek webisode “Of Gods and Men” in the final scene as a Vulcan priestess initiating a marriage ceremony between Uhura and Vulcan native Stonn (a character from the episode “Amok Time”, played by original actor Lawrence Montaigne). Martel played Gloria, mistress of murder victim Tony Goodland (Bradford Dillman), in the Columbo episode “The Greenhouse Jungle” (1972). Martel semi-retired from acting in the mid 1980s, but continued to work sporadically in showbiz after that. She appeared in several episodes of TV and in some unreleased TV pilots in the early 2000s. She stated in interviews that even in her early career, she got most of her work via word of mouth and not through talent agents. In her later years, she often remarked, “I don’t have a good agent who will get me the plum roles.” Before her death, Martel was one of the narrators for the 2015 documentary film Unity, which was released on August 12.
Martel attended the (then) Performing Arts High School in New York, on which the movie “Fame” was based, graduating in 1953. She later studied method acting and was a member of The Actors Studio. She remained friends with Sidney Lumet and Anthony Quinn throughout their lifetimes. Martel lived on the west side of Los Angeles when she first moved there, and for a time lived on Martel Ave. in West Hollywood. She appropriated the street name, and became known as Arlene Martel. During her third marriage, she became known off-screen as Tasha Martel Schoen. Martel married and divorced three times. Her first marriage was to Robert Palmer. Her second marriage was to actor Jerry Douglas. Her third was to Matthew Schoen. She had three children: Adam Palmer, Avra Douglas, and journalist and designer Jod Kaftan. She had three grandchildren – Shane Palmer (Adam), Molly Rose Brutsman (Avra), and Dashiell Kaftan (Jod). Shane died in 2010 at the age of 20.
In her later years, Martel wrote a screenplay, “Whisper Into My Good Ear”, based upon the one-act play of the same title by William Hanley. She had also begun work on a second screenplay, “Mrs. Dally Has a Lover,” also by Hanley. Unfortunately, neither was produced, although Edward James Olmos was slated to direct “Whisper Into My Good Ear.” Maximilian Schell and Max Von Sydow were slated to play the leads. Anthony Quinn was her original choice to play one of the leads and was learning the lines shortly before his death. Martel dated James Dean and Cary Grant. She appeared in the Robert Altman film “The James Dean Story” (1957) and did many interviews in the years following his death for such networks as the BBC. She was a regular at Star Trek Conventions worldwide from 1972 to 2014. In 2010, Martel and Jeff Minniti self-published a book called “Mixed Messages”, which was in fact an extensive collection of emails exchanged between them. Minniti was a fan of Martel’s who contacted her some years before her death and they struck up a friendship. Martel had written her autobiography several years before her death, but it has not yet been published. On August 12, 2014, Martel died from complications of a heart attack at a hospital in Santa Monica, California. She had suffered breast cancer in her later years, although this was reportedly not the cause of her death. She lived in Santa Monica for many years. She is survived by her children and two of her three grandchildren.
- April, 14, 1936
- The Bronx, New York
- August, 12, 2014
- Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death
- heart attack