The actress appeared in one episode of the sci-fi classic, bit it was the role of a lifetime.
Film and TV actress Celeste Yarnall has died at age 74. The star, who shot to fame in the late 1960s and early ’70s, passed away at her California home after a battle with ovarian cancer, her husband British artist Nazim Nazim told the Hollywood Reporter.
Yarnall’s IMDB page lists dozens of acting credits on TV shows of the day, including The Wild Wild West, Bewitched, The F.B.I., Hogan’s Heroes, and Bonanza, but the actress is best known for her one-episode role on Star Trek. The role had Yarnall playing Chekov’s (Walter Koenig) red-uniformed love interest, Yeoman Martha Landon, in the classic episode “The Apple,” which originally aired on Oct. 13. 1967.
While Celeste Yarnall was one and done on Star Trek, it turned out to be the guest role of a lifetime. The actress continued to be a beloved figure on the Star Trek convention and autograph circuit for decades.
Yarnall was such an integral part of the Star Trek community that she shared details of her cancer diagnosis on the official website for the classic show. In 2014 and 2015, the actress wrote several guest columns for the website about her diagnosis, per Deadline.
The official Star Trek Twitter page paid tribute to Celeste Yarnall following her death.
In a 2013 interview with StarTrek.com, Yarnall said she was grateful to have landed such a coveted role on the cult classic sci-fi series.
“I’m so glad to have landed that wonderful role. I was cast by Gene Roddenberry and (Star Trek casting director) Joe D’Agosta and Gene Coon personally. They’d been looking for something for me to do as a guest starring role. They wanted something perhaps a bit more exotic than Yeoman Martha Landon, but they brought me in and said, ‘Do you like the part, Celeste? If you like it, it’s yours. We were hoping to find something more exotic for you…’ I said, ‘Oh, no. I love this part.’ As actors, we’re always worried about paying the mortgage, you know? So I said, ‘I love the part. I love the part.’”
According to Yahoo Entertainment, Celeste Yarnall was actually discovered by Rick and Ozzie Nelson when she walked past their studio offices on her way to an audition. Her first acting credit is listed as an episode on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1962, where she was credited as “Girl” in the episode “Rick and the Maid of Honor.”
Yarnall was also a film actress. While she appeared in the 1960s movies The Nutty Professor and Under the Yum Yum Tree (in uncredited “College Girl” roles), her big movie break came in 1968 when she co-starred opposite Elvis Presley in Live a Little, Love a Little. In one of the most memorable scenes from the film, Presley serenaded Yarnall’s character with the song “A Little Less Conversation.”
You can see Celeste Yarnall in a classic scene from “The Apple” episode of Star Trek below.
Celeste Yarnall is survived by her husband Nazim, a daughter and granddaughter.
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