Legacy: Lorene Yarnell – And Now For A Real Moment Of Silence

I don’t mean to mock the death of a beloved, if somehow forgotten, 70s icon by my post’s title – I’m sure Yarnell would have gotten a kick out of it.  As a child of said 70s, I remember comedy-mime husband/wife duo Shields & Yarnell all over the TV through the early 80s.  From THE SONNY & CHER SHOW to THE MUPPET SHOW to the talk show circuit, they were a ubiquitous presence. Sadly, Lorene Yarnell passed away a week or so ago.  Even as a child I never adhered to their brand of “comedy” (and to this day will never understand the appeal of the art of miming), but a little part of my childhood died too.

Here’s the NY TIMES obit:

Lorene Yarnell, who with Robert Shields formed the mime-and-dance comedy team Shields and Yarnell, a familiar presence on television in the 1970s, died on July 29 after suffering a brain aneurysm at her home in Sandefjord, Norway. She was 66.

The death was confirmed by Mr. Shields’s wife, Jennifer.

With Mr. Shields, her husband at the time, Ms. Yarnell starred in the variety show “Shields and Yarnell,” broadcast on CBS in 1977 and 1978. She had originally trained as a dancer, he as a mime; after meeting in the early 1970s, each learned the other’s art. Together they developed a style that was an amalgam of the two.

The result charmed many viewers, though not everyone. Reviewing the first episode of “Shields and Yarnell” in The Washington Post, Tom Shales wrote, “The premiere last week broke the scoop that even the Captain and Tennille can be out-cutesie-wootsie’d.”

In 1981 Mr. Shields and Ms. Yarnell starred in “Broadway Follies,” a musical revue at the Nederlander Theater in New York. The show received poor notices and closed after one performance.

Ms. Yarnell’s other credits include the robot Dot Matrix (with a voice supplied by Joan Rivers) in “Spaceballs,” Mel Brooks’s 1987 film comedy.

Ms. Yarnell was born in Inglewood, Calif., on March 21, 1944. After she married Mr. Shields in 1972 — the ceremony was performed in mime — the couple worked as street performers in San Francisco before breaking into television as a duo.

Mr. Shields and Ms. Yarnell divorced in the mid-1980s. Survivors include her fourth husband, Bjorn Jansson, and a brother, Richard, The Los Angeles Times reported.


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