Born: April 14, 1936; Died: August 12, 2014.

Loading article content

Arlene Martel, who has died aged 78, appeared in dozens of films and television series in the 1960s and 1970s, but commands an exalted position among Star Trek devotees, having played T'Pring, Spock's intended bride in one of the best-known episodes of the original series in 1967.

The episode, entitled Amok Time, also features the Vulcan elder T'Pau, who is meant to conduct the ceremony and who gave her name to an English pop group in the 1980s, and a ritual fight to the death between Spock and Captain Kirk.

Arlene Martel was previously Arline Greta Sachs or Sax, born into an Austrian-Jewish immigrant family in New York in 1936. She spent her early years in the Bronx and attended New York's School of Performing Arts (later immortalised in the 1980 film Fame and the spin-off TV series).

While a student there she got to know James Dean, who had been on TV, but was not yet the iconic movie star he became in the mid-1950s. She told Dean's biographer Joe Hyams that he was her first lover and they would spend their time reading poetry and walking in Central Park.

She made her Broadway debut at the age of 20, in the comedy Uncle Willie, and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in films and TV. By the early 1960s she was appearing regularly in hit series such as The Twilight Zone (1959 and 1961), The Untouchables (1960, 1961), The Outer Limits (1964) and The Fugitive (1966), by which time she had changed her name to Arlene Martel.

Playing a highly logical Vulcan on Star Trek presented her with new challenges. "Our director Joe Pevney, contrary to what most directors usually request of the actor, said 'Give me less, give me less'… Playing a character as emotionally controlled as T'Pring was certainly a first for me."

In the episode Spock returns to his home planet Vulcan where he and T'Pring have been betrothed since childhood. But it turns out she has formed a bond with someone else (the word "love" might be pushing it) and exercises her right to choose a challenger to fight a duel against Spock, choosing Kirk for the task. It all works out logically in the end, sort of. Martel has been described as "the sexiest Vulcan ever".

Although she never really made that leap to lead roles or major movies, she continued to turn up regularly in guest roles in some of the most successful television series of the time, including Mission: Impossible (1970), Bewitched (1971), as the witch Malvina the ­Terrible, and Battlestar Galactica (1978), playing Adulteress 58 in one episode. By this point she had changed her billing again, to Tasha Martel. She was married and divorced three times and is survived by three children.