Polaroid fooled everyone into thinking this Star Trek actress was married to James Garner

Mariette Hartley went from ''All Our Yesterdays'' to a ''marriage'' with Maverick.

Read to Me

Zarabeth is the last great female character introduced on Star Trek: The Original Series. Considering she appeared in the penultimate episode, "All Our Yesterdays," the lonely Sarpeidon exile has little competition. The less said about the problematic series finale, "Turnabout Intruder," the better, but that tale's Dr. Lester is a cringy, dated hysterical woman stereotype from Kirk's past.

"All Our Yesterdays" would have let the classic series end on a much better note. McCoy and Spock similarly find themselves exiled to the ice age of the planet Sarpeidon. A brilliant McCoy gets the heroic spotlight, while Spock finds a love interest in the "cavewoman" Zarabeth, played by the wonderful Mariette Hartley. Well, she is not an immediate romantic flame for the Vulcan so much as a sympathetic strandee. The episode avoids shallow smooches and instant love for something more mature. Spock, under the spell of the time portal, is simply regressing back to a primitive Vulcan state.

Hartley's acting skills help make the episode work. Though still in her 20s, the Carnegie Mellon University graduate had plenty of screen experience, most notably a recurring gig on Peyton Place. On the primetime soap, she was Dr. Claire Morton, a "tropical medicine" expert running away from her husband (Leslie Nielsen). 

The same year Star Trek kicked off, in 1966, Hartley landed her first lead television role, as the wife in the Western spoof sitcom The Hero.

Over the decades, the charming and versatile actress has appeared in dozens of shows, from anchoring short-lived sitcoms like Goodnight, Beantown (opposite Bill Bixby!) to small parts on Law & Order: SVU and 9-1-1 in recent years.

But you most likely know her from camera commercials. And you probably, at some point, assumed she was married to James Garner. No shame in that. We all did.

Through the early-'80s, Garner appeared in a series of commercials for the instant cameras alongside Hartley, who portrayed his wife. The key word here is "portrayed."

"I was making plenty of money. I didn't need money. It wasn't for the money," Garner told the Archive of American Television in a 2010 interview. "I think I wanted to do it to see if I could."

Garner compared his snappy dialogue with Hartley to The Bickersons, a radio program from the Truman era that centered around a married couple in a constant war of words. Originally, the advertising folks had hired Hartley to come in for just a single day of work. Garner and Hartley clicked. The chemistry between the two was instant and obvious.

"She and I got into this banter… and they thought it was fun," Garner explained. "We started doing this back-and-forth."

Polaroid turned Garner and Hartley into a winning comedy team, helping sell its OneStep camera around the holidays. Polaroid sold "millions" of OneSteps, at least according to Garner in an ad. So why not keep a good thing going? Hartley had to come back with results like that.

"The next year, they had to hire her," Garner said. He demanded that they not pay her a daily wage, but rather sign her to a contract just like he had. "I told them, you're not going to have me up there making all this money and her working, you know, the daily. That won't work. She'll be upset, I'll be upset, everybody will be upset. You've got to make a deal with her."

"She got a good deal and everybody was happy," he added with a smile. "We sold a lot of cameras."

The two actors were perhaps a little too good together — at least from the perspective of their spouses. The American public assumed Garner and Hartley were married. "[Mariette] and Jim were the couple bickering spiritedly on the Polaroid TV commercials. The repartee seemed so genuine that many viewers assumed the two were married—or so press agents hinted," People wrote in 1979.

Hartley began wearing a T-shirt declaring, I AM NOT MRS. JAMES GARNER!

She had one printed up for her son that read I AM NOT JAMES GARNER'S CHILD. Yes, her husband, Patrick Boyriven, sported one that said, I AM NOT JAMES GARNER!

Ironically, Hartley had met Boyriven when the two were testing for a commercial spot for Folgers coffee.

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MountainMike 12 months ago
She was also married to David Banner in the Incredible Hulk episode "Married". She died of a terminal illness leaving David a two time widower.
LEXMART1234 14 months ago
I'm a true Westerners. Hello Everyone ..
kimmer 15 months ago
I remember those commercials... Even had that camera. Never thought about commercials that intently....lol
F5Twitster 15 months ago
"The same year Star Trek kicked off, in 1966, Hartley landed her first lead television role, as the wife in the Western spoof sitcom The Hero."

"The Hero," starring the late Richard Mulligan (it was a sitcom about a TV Western star, many of whose problems stemmed from the fact that he wasn't really as brave in real life as his onscreen character) actually aired right after "Star Trek," Thursdays at 8:30PM

It was, unfortunately, cancelled halfway through the season (I remember really liking it), with NBC putting up the revived "Dragnet" as its replacement.
EmBee 15 months ago
They didn't trick us or fool us into thinking that. For some reason, when performers click, people assume they are married. See Bobby and Cissy from Lawrence Welk. These two were no exception. But as the article states, they were PORTRAYED as husband and wife.
carrman EmBee 15 months ago
So the article is lying? No one thought that they were married?
Wiseguy 15 months ago
I bought a OneStep around Christmas 1978 after Garner started the commercials (but before Hartley joined him.) And no, not "everyone" thought they were married. I knew they were actors.
stephaniestavr5 Wiseguy 15 months ago
You are correct. Not everybody was that gullible and stupid.
I don't remember the stories she told, but I was privy to Mariette's life growing up. My mom had a friend {they were both members of the League Of Women Voters, and general friends. Then something happened and they had a falling out.} But whenever she came over she would talk about her, and Rev. Jim/Doc Brown himself: Christopher Lloyd. She grew up with him as well.
daDoctah 15 months ago
Is the (!) after Bill Bixby's name in reference to the fact that she also starred with him in a multipart "The Incredible Hulk" story arc where they were a couple before her character died tragically?
Wiseguy daDoctah 15 months ago
No, it's because most people wouldn't know or remember that she did a sitcom with well-known actor Bill Bixby.
stephaniestavr5 Wiseguy 15 months ago
I think the [!] is because she was lucky enough to work with BB not once, but twice.
Pacificsun 15 months ago
Besides we've already read this Hartley/Garner story before, and no, most people wouldn't remember that camera commercial, unless they're already classic TV viewers of the day.

Let's put some fresh stuff out there, okay.
Pacificsun 15 months ago
MeTV Poeple. You've got this (revised) page template so loaded up with "stuff" now that you can't read through the article without it actually jumping to the forced (yes) "skip ad" promo! Do you beta testing!
cperrynaples 15 months ago
Hartley also did a TZ!
What didn't MH do?!?! I'm surprised the article doesn't mention the R. Files episode she did. Part of the storyline was a take off on the polaroid commercials.
I'm sorry, but James Garner was wrong in his comparing he and Mariette to John and Blanche Bickerson. Yes, the "snappy patter" was there, and the "married couple" bit was there as well. But John was more angry and vocal, and was a whiner and complainer. Come to think of it John was to. He was also more of a worrier. I'm probably a bit off in my thinking, {perhaps I should go and rewatch the ads for a refresher course;} but I liken J&M to either Bob & Emily Newhart, or Rob & Laurie Petrie. {Or Buddy & Sally.} I'll stop. I'm getting a bit crazy! I'm sure there are a lot of you who will agree with me!
Wiseguy stephaniestavr5 15 months ago
"But John was more angry and vocal, and was a whiner and complainer. Come to think of it John was to." Huh?
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