(written from a Production point of view)
|Date of birth:||18 February 1941|
|Place of birth:||Long Island, New York City, New York, USA|
|...on the cover of the NBC 1966-1967 television season information brochure|
| || |
Andrea Dromm (born 18 February 1941; age 74) portrayed Yeoman Smith in "Where No Man Has Gone Before", the second pilot episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. She filmed her scenes from Monday 19 July 1965 through Thursday 22 July 1965 on Desilu Culver Stage 15. Dromm was the second actress to play a captain's yeoman, after Laurel Goodwin, who played yeoman J.M. Colt in the first, un-aired pilot, "The Cage".
Dromm was slated to become a regular on Star Trek, though studio executive Herb Solow, somewhat cynically, recalled in what matter Dromm was brought aboard, "Model Andrea Dromm, also fitting the mold [i.e. being cute, shapely, bubbly and not too bright, at least for Gene Roddenberry according to Solow], came aboard for the second pilot as Yeoman Smith. Actually, it was a non-part. But during the casting process, director Jimmy Goldstone overheard Gene say, "I'm hiring her because I want to score with her." It was not only a non-part, I'm sure it was a non-score as well." (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 75) When asked about it, decades later, she, surprised at the statement, reiterated, "I had no problems with Gene at all. I thought he was a very nice man." (Lisanti, p. 16)
Her appearance on Star Trek's second pilot episode was actually Dromm's very first outing as actress in the motion picture industry. Yet, she was treated with kindness as she recalled, "William Shatner was very pleasant and professional. Gary Lockwood and Sally Kellerman were guest stars in the pilot. Gary was especially friendly and helpful, because there were a lot of things I had to react to without dialog, like the ship rocking, and I did not know what to do. This was my first real acting job and this was all new to me. I was a little nervous and not quite sure of myself and did not know how to approach those scenes. The director was not telling me very much, but Gary helped me out and I just did my best." (Lisanti, p. 16) Contracted for four days of shooting, Dromm received a fee of $450.00. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One, 1st ed., p. 85)
Though considered for a recurring role, Dromm had a decision to make, "I was offered a role in "The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming". They told me that you either do the film or the series. I chose the film, but if I had known that Star Trek would become such a phenomenon, I probably would have opted for the series. But this episode was still only a pilot. Not only did nobody know if it was going to be picked up as a series, but nobody had a clue that it was going to turn out as big as it did. In fact, William Shatner told me that if the show didn't hit, he didn't know what he was going to do. Since Star Trek was only a pilot, they could keep you under option for six months and change your character, or even worse, drop you from the show. [A fate that befell Laurel Goodwin]. You had no guarantee that they would sign you for the series. I thought doing the movie would be more exciting and a great thing to do. That was a choice I had to make and you can't look back." (Lisanti, p. 16) The series was picked up however, and Dromm's role was from then on filled by Grace Lee Whitney, playing the third yeoman, Janice Rand.
It was therefore so much the more remarkable that NBC chose to have her prominently featured with Shatner on the cover of their promotional series brochure for the 1966-1967 television season, even though NBC was very much aware that Dromm had left, already mentioning her appearance in her upcoming movie on page five of the brochure. She was not even to appear in the first aired episode, only being featured in her single episode that aired third. Whitney as Rand was not mentioned at all in the brochure, even though publicity shots with her (wearing the same style uniform Dromm wore, i.e. with trousers, which Whitney however, would never adorn in any of her appearances) were already made.
Solow was underwhelmed by Dromm's performance as he has said this of her in a comment, poured in the guise of a fictionalized news bulletin headline, "SEXY YEOMAN ANDREA DROMM FAILS TO SIZZLE! SLIPS INTO SUSPENDED ANIMATION!" (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 152) This, in retrospect, might be considered a bit unfair, as she was given very little to work with, falling in line with what Shatner had said about Kellerman, as far as the role of women were concerned in the second pilot, "(...)she supplied plenty of sex appeal. All of these elements were consciously conceived and aimed at pleasing the network brass(...). (Star Trek Memories, p. 107) Shatner referred to the great objections NBC's studio executives had against Majel Barrett's portrayal of Number One in the previous pilot, forcing Roddenberry to dial down the characterization of women to what at the time was considered acceptable. How sexist or politically incorrect this "acceptable" characterization at the time was to 21st century audiences, was underscored by the description of Yeoman Smith on page five of NBC's information brochure, which literally read,
"YEOMAN SMITH, who has drawn the important assignment of secretary to the Captain on her first mission in deep space, is easily the most popular member of Kirk's staff. A capable secretary and efficient dispenser of instant coffee, she also provides a welcome change of scenery for eyes that have spent long hours scanning the vast reaches of space."Essentially "eye candy", starting with Dromm, the Star Trek producers struggled with beefing out the role of Captain's Yeoman for Dromm's successor, Grace Lee Whitney. Even before the series started its run, Producer Robert Justman, already urged Roddenberry in a memo dated 14 April 1966, "(...)to work out additional duties for the Captain's Yeoman, fill out her role a bit, plus give her some landing party duties where we need her on a planet." (The Making of Star Trek, p.169) They never quite succeeded in doing so and ultimately gave up by dropping the character all together, with Whitney released from the series after just eight appearances, partly for creative and cost reasons, partly for freeing up the Captain James T. Kirk character for romantic endeavors, and partly for personal reasons. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp. 243-244; Star Trek Memories, p. 282-283)
By that time, Andrea Dromm had already been relegated to becoming a footnote in Star Trek history, but her contribution to the franchise was not entirely forgotten, as trading cards company Rittenhouse Archives, honored her with two autograph cards, numbers A174 and DA15, as part of their 2008 Star Trek: The Original Series - 40th Anniversary: Series 2 trading card set.
Career outside Star Trek Edit
A model-turned-actress-turned-model, Dromm was the daughter of an engineer, and attended school in Patchogue and subsequently in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Urged on by an uncle, she began her modeling career under contract of the John C. Conover Agency at the age of six, but stopped shortly thereafter, as it interfered with school too much. She attended the University of Connecticut, where she studied drama, acting in student productions of The Diary of Anne Frank, The Crucible, and Romeo and Juliet. She dropped out and hitchhiked to San Francisco to work for the Saks store for awhile, but eventually returned for her degree. After getting her degree she began to work in the early 1960s as a New York model, signing with the Eileen Ford Agency. During that period she became the face for promotion campaigns of perfume brands such as Arpege, or body care product brands such as Princess Dial Soap, Max Factor or Head and Shoulders, adorning several period teen magazines (though being in her early twenties), as well as working as runway model for various New York fashion houses. Years later she candidly conceded, "When I got out of college, I realized I really wasn't suited to do very much. A publishing house hired me to do secretarial work, but my typing wasn't that good [note: which somewhat flies in the face of the characterization of her future alter ego, Yeoman Smith], so I decided I might as well try modeling again." (Lisanti, pp. 14-15)
After she took acting classes, Dromm was propelled to temporary national renown in 1963 when she did a National Airlines TV commercial, in which she played a sexy stewardess and delivered the popular catchphrase "Is this any way to run an airline? You bet it is!" The phrase was often parodied and was even referenced in several reviews of the film Come Spy With Me, in which she starred, which would run along the lines of "Is this any way to make a movie? You bet it isn't". A popular commercial at the time, it was the reason that she was encouraged to move to the West Coast again to seek a career as actress in the motion picture industry, though Dromm had her reservations, "During the sixties, when a model became an actress, they didn't want you to model anymore. I had reservations about going to California because I still wanted to be in New York part of the time and model. It was a difficult decision." Nevertheless, she went and landed her first acting gig in Star Trek. (Lisanti, p. 15)
After deciding to leave Star Trek, she then made her big screen debut in the above mentioned The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, a part she got when she accidentally met director Norman Jewison during a dinner. Co-starring in this classic Cold War comedy were Star Trek alumni Brian Keith, Theodore Bikel, Sheldon Collins, Guy Raymond, Don Keefer, Michael J. Pollard, and Paul Lambert. The movie was released on 25 May 1966, a solid three months before Star Trek started to air. She followed up with her appearance in the 1967 spy movie Come Spy With Me, which, however fell flat and did not do well at the box-office. Shortly thereafter she became somewhat of the face of the burgeoning Californian surf culture of the 1960's, appearing on two television shows covering the subject, the syndicated The Mike Douglas Show of 7 February 1967, and ABC's Hit the Surf television special of 20 July the same year. Yet, the very same year, Dromm quit acting and moved back east. "Hollywood is no place to learn acting. In the movies you don't have to be a great actress; you're just a type. They expect you to do sexy things, like seduce people with your eyes. I felt susceptible and vulnerable.", she stated at the time in her next to last interview (Look, 7 February 1967, p. 90), having added in hindsight in her last interview, "I don't know what happened that made me stop acting. Hollywood is very competitive. I guess you really have to want it badly and there was an awful lot of competition. I wasn't aggressive. It goes against my nature. It is also a hard life because you are not always working. You have to be prepared for that. I wasn't. While I was working in New York, I was working all the time. In Hollywood, lots of times, you had to sit around and wait for a long time. When you are used to being busy and then you are sitting around waiting for something to happen, you get lonely and discouraged. I also met a guy at the time. Hollywood was also very wild in the late sixties. I eventually left and moved back east." Still, she later admitted to occasionally feeling pangs of regret of having given up her acting career. (Lisanti, pp. 20-21)
In New York, Dromm resumed her modeling career and became the face for hair product brand Clairol, for their "Summer Blonde" campaign, capitalizing on Dromm's California surf affiliation and on which Dromm had actually already started in the period between her two movies, which ran for three years and nearly garnered her as much (again short-lived) national renown as her 1963 catchphrase did. But then Dromm completely quit and receded from the public eye entirely for reasons she was later unwilling to divulge. In 1988 the tabloid People managed to track her down and reported that unmarried Dromm was living with her mother off real estate investments and splitting her time between homes in The Hamptons and Palm Beach. When asked about it fifteen years later in her only interview ever given after 1967 for Lisanti's below mentioned book, she neither confirmed nor denied the investment claim, but admitted to her dividing the year between her two homes.
Further reading Edit
- "Is this any way to make a living? You bet it is!", Look magazine, 7 February 1967, pp. 88-90
- "The Endless Summer of a Summer Blonde", Katie Hutchinson, People, 11 July 1988, p. 98
- "Andrea Dromm", Drive-In Dream Girls: A Galaxy of B-Movie Starlets of the Sixties, Tom Lisanti, McFarland, March 2003, pp. 14-21