Ms. Martin was born in Decatur, IL, and raised in Santa Monica, CA, the daughter of cornetist father, Clarence Martin, and cellist mother, Frances.
J.B., Archibald MacLeish's modern retelling of the Job story, was her biggest stage success. She played Sarah, the faithful wife of J.B., played by Pat Hingle, and was nominated for a Tony Award for Featured Actress in a Play in 1960.
An angular figure, with large, baleful eyes, Ms. Martin made her Broadway debut a decade earlier in the short-lived A Story for a Sunday Evening. She was in a 1951 revival of Maugham's The Constant Wife starring Katharine Cornell and the Tyrone Guthrie-directd Makropoulos Secret.
In 1959, she performed in a Broadway revival of O'Neill's The Great God Brown and played the title role in a Phoenix Theater revival of Lysistrata the same year. The Phoenix also employed her in Henry IV, Part I, in which she played Lady Percy. Further Broadway plays included Under the Yum-Yum Tree, Come Live With Me, Summer Brave and Eccentricities of a Nightingale.
Ms. Martin appeared in many Shakespeare productions during the early years of Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival. She was Portia to George C. Scott's Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Gertrude to Al Ryder's Hamlet, and Beatrice to J.D. Cannon's Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing She and her husband, screen composer Robert Emmett Dolan, divorced in 1963. At that time, the Ford Foundation helped to set up a program under the Department of State for Cultural Exchange. Ms. Martin was the chairperson of the theatre committee and a member of the Arts Advisory Committee, appointed by President Kennedy.
During the 1960s, she did a lot regional work, performing at the Arena Stage and the Alley Theater. She worked in the inaugural season of the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 1967.
Her films included "Toys in the Attic," "For the Love of Ivy" and "Goodbye Columbus."
In 1969, she married California architect Harry Gesner, with whom she had attended Santa Monica High School 25 years earlier (and had not seen since), and moved to Tarzana, CA, and later Malibu. They stayed together for 41 years. During this period, she acted regularly at such West Coast theatres as South Coast Repertory and Los Angeles Theater Center. In 1995, she was a Joseph Jefferson Award winner for her performance in Albee's Three Tall Women.
Television audiences remember Ms. Martin best by her regular appearance as the lively Mrs. Lauder on "The Drew Carey Show."
She is survived by husband, and sons Casey Dolan (by the first marriage) and Zen Gesner.