R.I.P. Yvette Mimieux, the first actress to bare her belly button on TV

The 'Where the Boys Are' star was 80.

The Everett Collection

In 1951, the National Association of Broadcasters established its Code of Practices for Television Broadcasters. Amongst many other things, the regulations prohibited the display of a woman's navel. The Code stood in place until 1983, though shows had been disobeying the rules for years.

Yvette Mimieux was no stranger to a swimsuit. The Southern California girl had starred in Where the Boys Are (1960). She played Melanie Tolman, one of the four Midwestern girls coming of age on spring break in Fort Lauderdale. Her character suffered a tragic fate, but that would be a breakout year for the actress. She turned heads as Meena, one of the gentle Eloi in The Time Machine, the adaptation of the classic H.G. Wells novel. That same summer, she could be seen in Platinum High School, which despite its title, was gritty military school drama.

After making a splash on the scene, the Los Angeles native, born to a French father and Mexican mother, became one of the blonde starlets of the early '60s, garnering three Golden Globe nominations. A contract player with MGM, she landed roles in steamy dramas such as Toys in the Attic and Diamond Head. But Mimieux never truly blew up into an A-list leading lady. Still, she holds a unique place in TV history. She was the first woman to bare her navel on the small screen.

The event happened in the two-part Dr. Kildare episode "Tyger, Tyger," in 1964. Perhaps moralists allowed it because her character perished atop a surfboard in the end, dying in the manly arms of Richard Chamberlain.

Despite earning acclaim, she saw her roles dwindle a bit. Mimieux appeared just once more on television in the Sixties, though, in the Seventies, she popped up in several made-for-TV movies, stuff like the horror-western Black Noon and the yeti monster flick Snowbeast.

While acting, Mimieux studied archeology at UCLA. She found the roles on offer less than satisfying. “It's all surface. There's nothing to play," she explained to The Los Angeles Times. "They're either sex objects or vanilla pudding."

In one of her later roles, Mimieux turned up as a last-minute replacement in The Black Hole, the 1979 Disney sci-fi epic.

Mimieux passed away earlier this week in her sleep, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She was 80.

 
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JeffBaker 2 months ago
I remember her in an unsold pilot for a sitcom version of "Bell, Book and Candle." they aired it in the 70s. Once.
Coldnorth 3 months ago
Does anyone know when I select “like” it says unlike on my screen
Shar65 3 months ago
I had the pleasure of meeting Yvette in the 80s when doing Tricks of the trade at the Bergen Mall play house in New Jersey, with William Shatner. We spoke. For an hour , such a sweet woman. R.I.P. Yvette.
Lantern 3 months ago
Wow - surprised to learn that she was an LA native.
PulsarStargrave 3 months ago
I always used to get her mixed up with SUSAN OLIVER but they were BOTH BEAUTIFUL! REST WELL, YVETTE!
Kenner 3 months ago
R.I.P. Yvette. I still watch “the time machine’ from time to time. After all, wiiiillllbuuuur is in it.
cperrynaples Kenner 3 months ago
Alan Young is in both versions!
Sway 3 months ago
RIP Yvette Mimieux. Very memorable performance in Where the Boys Are. The character she played in Time Machine was Weena not Meena as written above. Memorable in that movie too.
WilliamJorns Sway 3 months ago
Absolutely right! At one point in the film, Rod Taylor's character even writes her name in the dirt, W-E-E-N-A. It's also spelled that way in H.G. Wells' original novel. I know; I've got a copy, and I've read it. C'mon, Me-TV, do your research before you post your articles!
musiclady1 3 months ago
I always liked her. I thought she had a rather unique kind of appeal & beauty.
BrittReid 3 months ago
Will always remember her in "The Time Machine " as Weena, not Meena. R.I.P. Yvette
Alienbill909 3 months ago
I have had a crush on her since I was 8yo, when the time machine came out, God bless you, maybe you and Rod Taylor can make some more movies in heaven...
MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
When I was 19-20 I was told I looked like Yvette Mimieux.
teire MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
What a nice compliment, she was lovely.
MrsPhilHarris teire 3 months ago
I was like who? There was no internet back then.
Catman MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
To misquote Peter Falk in Princess Bride, "When I was your age the Internet was called 'the library.'"
CaptainDunsel 3 months ago
They completely overlooked her two regular TV series roles: 1970's "The Most Deadly Game" with Ralph Bellamy and George Maharis, and 1975's "Berrenger's" with Sam Wanamaker.
Berrenger's was 1985,NOT 1975! Sad Footnote:On TMDG, she replaced Inger Stevens after her suicide!
You are correct. I believe the technical term is "typo".
teire 3 months ago
She had a lovely delicate beauty as a young actress. She was very good in The Light in the Piazza with Olivia de Havilland as her mother. Rest in peace and condolences to her family.
Peter_Falk_Fan 3 months ago
I watched "The Time Machine" this past Saturday on TCM. She was also good in another Rod Taylor film, "Dark of the Sun". I watched it on TCM a couple of months ago. She was also an anthropologist.

R.I.P. Yvette Mimieux
Runeshaper 3 months ago
R.I.P. Yvette Mimieux. Here's to her navel too!
Tresix 4 months ago
I remember the Seventies movie “Jackson County Jail” that starred her and an up-and-comer named Tommy Lee Jones. It had a made-for-TV sequel called “Outside Chance”.
cperrynaples Tresix 3 months ago
Yes, and the TV movie was a backdoor pilot for a possible female Fugitive! Ironically, Jones played Lt. Gerard in the Harrison Ford reboot!
Moverfan cperrynaples 3 months ago
Loved that movie! Biggest laugh in it (for me, anyway) is the parade scene--the marchers are going up to down (on the screen), Harrison Ford's going left to right...and Tommy Lee Jones STILL can't find him!
WilliamJorns cperrynaples 3 months ago
Although in the reboot, he was Deputy U.S. Marshal Gerard.
PZA 4 months ago
In The Time Machine her name was Weena, Not Meena.

Tresix PZA 4 months ago
I thought I was right.
15inchBlackandWhite 4 months ago
What was the obsession that Standards and Practices had with navels? It's just weird. And it held on until 1983? By then it had to have been completely ignored. Cheryl Ladd joined Charlie's Angels in the 70's, and she used to wear some awfully tiny bikinis on that show.
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Like with I Dream Of Jeannie. They couldn't show her navel, but they sure showed plenty of breast. I never understood
that. 😏
Moody 15inchBlackandWhite 3 months ago
Yes, T & A was fine but no belly buttons.
Moody MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
Attitudes were different in those days compared to today. Remember this was the era of no toilets or couples in the same bed. But I agree, it was ridiculous when look back at it.
MadMadMadWorld Moody 3 months ago
No T's allowed, if you are talking nipples, and no completely bare A's, so the misleading term T & A is not 100% accurate, if talking about the whole T and whole A exposed to the tv audience!
Snickers 4 months ago
We have lost yet another one in 2022. I remember her in the Black Hole even though the movie was pretty bad. RIP Mimieux
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