Shields and Yarnell': What Happened to Their Mime Act from the Seventies?

Jaimie-lee Prince
May 20, 2019
08:43 P.M.

It's fair to say that the celebrity status that mimes could achieve back in the '70s has died out, but we wonder what happened to the popular couple that brought their silent act to the small screen?


Robert Shields and Lorene Yarnell were the only mimes talented enough and uniquely skilled in their craft to make their way into our living rooms with their show, "Shields and Yarnell."

Yarnell, born in 1944, began her journey in entertainment as a dancer at the tender age of four. By 15, she was a professional in her craft, especially in tap dancing, Shields said according to LA Times.

As for Shields, at 18 he began miming outside of the Hollywood Wax Museum and a famous French mime noticed. In 1970, he received a full scholarship to France to attend Marcel Marceau's mime school, but he didn't stay very long.

He decided to go to San Francisco and take his miming to the street, becoming a famed tourist attraction. Soon, television captured him for the first time on 1972's "Fol-de-Rol."

That's where he met Yarnell, who was also on the Marty Krofft TV special. By then, Yarnell had already appeared on a few episodes of "Shindig!" The two instantly hit it off.


Shields taught Yarnell to mime, and the latter left her dancing career behind. In 1972, they got married in Union Square in a dramatic display that included belly dancers, fire eaters, snake charmers and, of course, mimes.

When the two went to Los Angeles in 1975, they landed regular spots on "The Mac Davis Show," and later on "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour." In 1977, they got their own half-hour summer variety series, "Shields and Yarnell."

They played the robotic couple known as the Clinkers, doing comedic sketches, dancing, and miming. Unfortunately, the show only lasted one season before it was canceled.

Still, through the show, Shields brought to life the now-famous "robot dance" that everybody knows. Furthermore, the couple continued to appear on other shows.

Sadly, they got divorced in 1986 but continued various performances together up until 2009. Yarnell remarried to Bjorn Janson and Shield attended her wedding. He himself remarried in 2018.


After their retreat from the spotlight, Fields pursued painting, sculpting, and jewelry-making. Yarnell went back to dancing, opening a dancing school in Norway to teach ballet and tap.

In 2007, Shields and Yarnell did a tour together in Los Angeles. Held at the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael, they called it "The Reunion Farewell Tour."

Sadly, Yarnell passed away from a brain aneurysm in 2010 as she sat in front of the television next to her husband. Shields commented that he was "devastated by her death."

He called her "an incredibly gifted and magical person." As of 2016, Shields was still creating art in his Cottonwood, Verde Valle studio. He oftentimes travels throughout Arizona to showcase his work.

While he no longer does miming, one celebrity who worked as a street mime before he got big was actor Robin Williams. Of course, Williams achieved much bigger success on screen before his untimely death in 2014.

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