Shields and Yarnell were an American mime team, formed in 1972, consisting of Robert Shields (born March 26, 1951) and LoreneYarnell (March 21, 1944–July 29, 2010).
Shields was born in Los Angeles and graduated from North Hollywood High. 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 & Baily Circus to serve as their Director of Clowning.
Lorene Yarnell (also a native Angeleno) had been a dancer and actress in movies and television shows including, Bye Bye Birdie, Shindig!, The Carol Burnett Show, and off-Broadway musicals before she met Shields, in San Francisco.
She had speaking guest appearances on The Muppet Show and Wonder Woman which both featured her then-husband, Robert Shields.
Yarnell later appeared as Claudine in a spectacular 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. 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.
Their TV special Toys On The Town, written by Shields, earned an Emmy.
They won an award as Las Vegas "Entertainer of the Year," dual Georgies for "Rising Stars of the Year" and "Special Attraction of the Year" from the American Guild of Variety Artists.