Shields and Yarnell
March 26, 1951 |
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, mime artist|
|Spouse(s)||Lorene Yarnell (m. 1972; div. 1986)
Laurie Burke (m. 2006; her death 2007)
Jennifer Griffiths (m. 2009; div. 2014)
Shields was born in Los Angeles and graduated from Grant High School. At the age of 18, while working as a street mime and performing at the Hollywood Wax Museum, Shields was discovered by Marcel Marceau, who offered Shields a full scholarship to his school of mime in Paris. His apprenticeship was short lived as he felt the need to develop his own style and pry mime loose from its artsy pedestal. Shields soon returned to California, working in Union Square, San Francisco. Shields is credited with being the originator of "The Robot" moves early in his career. In 1974, Shields appeared in Francis Ford Coppola's film The Conversation. In 1998, Shields was recruited by the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus to serve as their Director of Clowning.
Lorene Yarnell and Robert Shields met when they worked on "Fol-de-Rol," a 1972 Sid and Marty Krofft TV special that marked Shields' first TV appearance.
|Born||Lorene Louise Yarnell
March 21, 1944
Inglewood, California, U.S.
|Died||July 29, 2010
|Cause of death||Intracranial aneurysm|
|Resting place||Sandar Church Cemetery in Sandefjord, Norway|
|Occupation||Actress, mime artist|
|Notable work||Voice of Ms. Clinker in Christmas at Walt Disney World (1978)
Voice of Melissa in Clown White (1981)
Dot Matrix in Spaceballs (1987)
|Spouse(s)||John R. Hartman (m. 1966; div. 1967)
Robert Shields (m. 1972; div. 1986)
Bjørn Jansson (m. 1996; her death 2010)
Lorene Yarnell (also a native Angeleno) had been a dancer and actress in movies and television shows, including Bye Bye Birdie, Shindig!, and The Carol Burnett Show, as well as off-Broadway musicals, before she met Shields, in San Francisco.
Yarnell later appeared as Claudine in a 1983 outdoor production of Can-Can at The Muny in St. Louis, starring Broadway's Judy Kaye, John Reardon, John Schuck, Beth Leavel and Lawrence Leritz, her dance partner, to excellent reviews. On film, Yarnell played Dot Matrix (body acting, with Joan Rivers doing the voice) in the 1987 Mel Brooks movie Spaceballs.
As a duo
The Shields and Yarnell comedy act originated in their partnership. Their specialty was taking on the personae of robots, with many individual, deliberate motions (as opposed to normal smooth motion) stereotypical of robots and early animatronics, enhanced by their ability to refrain from blinking their eyes for long stretches of time. They called themselves The Clinkers.
Their dance and mime performances were featured in 1977 on their own CBS television comedy-variety program, The Shields and Yarnell Show. They appeared on 400 national television shows in the US, including The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Red Skelton Show, The Muppet Show (1979), and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The pair played the "Six-Hundred-Dollar People" created by Dr. Loveless, Jr., in the TV movie, The Wild Wild West Revisited, in 1979. They performed in the unsuccessful Broadway musical production Broadway Follies in New York City, which closed after several performances. Career highlights included shows for two American Presidents and a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II, as well as a tour of China with comedian Bob Hope.
Shields and Yarnell were married in 1972 and divorced in 1986. Shields opened a jewelry and art business in Sedona, Arizona, while Yarnell remarried and moved to Norway. They reunited periodically to tour with their act.
In 2002, Shields met Laurie Burke, a singer-songwriter in Sedona, and the two were married on September 25, 2006. Burke was diagnosed with a brain tumor the next spring, and died on April 25, 2007. Shields married Jennifer Griffiths in December 2009. The couple divorced in 2014. Shields currently resides in Verde Valley, Arizona, where he creates paintings, sculptures, and jewelry design.
Death of Lorene Yarnell
- "Robert Shields' Biography". Arthur Shafman International, Ltd.
- McLellan, Dennis (August 6, 2010). "Lorene Yarnell dies at 66; half of the Shields and Yarnell comedy mime team". Los Angeles Times.
- "Shields & Yarnell". Arthur Shafman International, Ltd.
- Bierly, Mandi (August 7, 2010). "Remembering Lorene Yarnell of Shields and Yarnell (and 'Spaceballs')". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
- Armstrong, Lois (June 20, 1977). "Prime Time Is Mime Time for the Married Robots Shields & Yarnell". People. Retrieved 2011-05-15.
- Fox, Margalit (August 7, 2010). "Lorene Yarnell, Half of a Dance Duo, Dies at 66". The New York Times.
- Ireland, Philip K. (May 4, 2007). "Remembering Laurie Burke Shields: Songwriter traveled the world". San Diego Union-Tribune.
- Tveitan, Flemming Hofmann (August 3, 2010). "Lorene Yarnell Jansson er gått bort" [Lorene Yarnell Jansson has passed away]. Sandefjords Blad (in Norwegian).