StarTrek.com is saddened to report the passing of actress Celeste Yarnall, who played Martha Landon, Chekov’s love interest in The Original Series episode “The Apple” and was a beloved figure on Star Trek convention circuit. Yarnall succumbed to ovarian cancer on October 7 after a brave four-year battle with the disease, a battle she chronicled in detail for StarTrek.com via a series of guest blogs. She was surrounded by family upon her death, which occurred at her home in Westlake Village, California.
As an actress, Yarnall counted among her credits such television shows as The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, Land of the Giants, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Columbo, Melrose Place and on and on, and such films as The Nutty Professor, Live a Little, Love a Little (in which Elvis Presley crooned “A Little Less Conversation” to her), The Velvet Vampire (a cult fave from Roger Corman that, along with Eve and Beast of Blood, established her scream queen cred), Scorpio, Bob and Ted and Carol and Alice, The Mechanic, Funny About Love (directed by Leonard Nimoy) and the upcoming comedy, Unbelievable!!!!!, on which she served as a producer. An utterly stunning beauty in her youth -- and still radiant to the end -- Yarnall was the last Rheingold Girl, earning the honor in 1964.
More recently, she had been a regular on the sci-fi convention/autograph show circuit and authored several books about holistic health care for both humans and pets. She was also an entrepreneur, public speaker and avid dancer (particularly the Argentine Tango), appeared in recent documentaries about Elvis Presley and Star Trek, including William Shatner’s Get a Life!, and served as the muse and inspiration for her British husband’s art.
As noted, Yarnall wrote several guest blogs for StarTrek.com, detailing her illness after she was diagnosed in late 2014 with stage 3 Primary Peritoneal cancer, or ovarian cancer. In her first entry, in February 2015, she kicked it off with the following words: “I have cancer.” She ended it with: “And, I think Dr. McCoy would be proud of this: My doctor has some exciting things for me planned, as we banked a bit of my tumor for future use to make a vaccine to give me to help my body defend itself against this cancer. This is very expensive and not covered by insurance and I will need to travel most likely by air to Texas to get these shots regularly. He has other things in mind, too, but again this requires your help. Please join me on my journey so that I can get well and get back out in the world and be of help to others, which is what I like doing best, through my books, personal appearances, speaking engagements, film production and on and on. However I can reach and inspire people to help themselves personally and help our planet come together in oneness and peace, I want to do it, and sharing my cancer story is part of that. Thank you so much dear friends! All my love and blessings to each and every one of you and Nazim and I wish you all a healthy, happy 2015!” In one of her final public appearances, Yarnall greeted fans and participated in a guest star panel in August at Star Trek Las Vegas.
Yarnall is survived by her husband, Nazim, daughter, Cami, granddaughter, Gaby, and son-in-law, Stephen Forte. Please join StarTrek.com in offering our condolences to her family, friends, colleagues and fans.