Joan Van Ark

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Joan Van Ark
Joan Van Ark.jpg
Born (1943-06-16) June 16, 1943 (age 79)
New York City, U.S.
EducationYale University
Years active1963–present
SpouseJohn Marshall (m. 1966)
ChildrenVanessa Marshall

Joan Van Ark (born June 16, 1943)[1] is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Valene Ewing on the primetime soap opera Knots Landing. A life member of The Actors Studio,[2] she made her Broadway debut in 1966 in Barefoot in the Park. In 1971, she received a Theatre World Award and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for the revival of The School for Wives.[3]

In 1978, Van Ark landed her most famous role of Valene Ewing, who first appeared on the CBS series Dallas, then was a leading character for 13 seasons on its spin-off Knots Landing (1979–92). For her performance on Knots Landing, she won the Soap Opera Digest Award for Best Actress in 1986 and 1989. She left the show in 1992, although she did return for the series' final two episodes in 1993 as well as the 1997 miniseries Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac. In 1985, she received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination as host of the Tournament of Roses Parade on CBS. From 2004 to 2005, she starred in the soap opera The Young and the Restless. She reprised her role of Valene in an episode of the new Dallas series in 2013.

Early life and education[edit]

Van Ark was born in New York City to Dorothy Jean Van Ark (née Hemenway) (1917-1983) and Carroll Van Ark (1897-1972), an advertiser and public relations consultant from Holland, Michigan, of Dutch ancestry.[4] Carroll Van Ark's paternal grandfather was an immigrant from The Netherlands.[5] Both parents were also writers.[6] She grew up in Boulder, Colorado, with three siblings.

At age 15 as a student reporter, Van Ark met and interviewed actress Julie Harris, who recommended that Van Ark apply to the Yale School of Drama, which Harris had attended in her early twenties. Van Ark followed in Harris' footsteps and went to Yale Drama on a scholarship. Van Ark was one of the few acceptees to attend the Yale graduate program without first having earned an undergraduate degree. Van Ark was also reportedly the only female student on campus at the time. She attended for only one year. Years later, Harris appeared on Knots Landing as Lilimae Clements, the mother of Valene Ewing, Van Ark's character.[6][7][8][9]

After Harris died in 2013, Van Ark announced at a Broadway memorial service the creation of the Julie Harris Scholarship, which provides annual support to an actor studying at the Yale Drama School. Alec Baldwin, who played Harris' son and Van Ark's brother on Knots Landing, made the first contribution.[10] In 2021, Yale Drama became tuition-free and was rebranded the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University.[11]


Van Ark and Howard Duff in Felony Squad (1968)

Van Ark began her professional career at the Guthrie Theater in Molière's The Miser, in which she appeared opposite Hume Cronyn and Zoe Caldwell. That was followed by Death of a Salesman at the Guthrie with both Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. After a season at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., she originated the role of Corie in the national touring company of Barefoot in the Park, directed by Mike Nichols. She recreated the role at the Piccadilly Circus in the critically acclaimed London Company when she replaced Marlo Thomas, who had torn a ligament, and she eventually played the part again on Broadway in 1966.

Van Ark and her new husband moved to Los Angeles, where she started garnering television credits; however, in 1971, she revisited Broadway, where she earned a Theatre World Award and received a Tony nomination for her performance as Agnès in Molière's The School for Wives, directed by Stephen Porter.[12]

Van Ark starred opposite Ray Milland and Sam Elliott in the horror film Frogs, which was theatrically released on March 10, 1972.

After receiving a contract with Universal Studios, Van Ark co-starred with Bette Davis in The Judge and Jake Wyler, a 1972 telefilm and series pilot that failed to be picked up by NBC. Van Ark played the role of Erika in M*A*S*H in 1973 in the episode entitled "Radar's Report." Van Ark was also a regular castmember of the short-lived television sitcoms Temperatures Rising (1972–73) and We've Got Each Other (1977–78).

In 1974, Van Ark, tapped as a late replacement for Mary Ure, returned to Broadway as Silia Gala in a revival of Pirandello's The Rules of the Game, which was performed by the New Phoenix Repertory Co. at the Helen Hayes Theater and also featured Glenn Close, who, in addition to playing a bit part as a neighbor, served as Van Ark's understudy in the lead role of Silia.[13][14] Game reunited Van Ark with School for Wives director Stephen Porter as well as Wives co-star David Dukes. In 1975, a production of Game was also broadcast on Great Performances as one of its Theatre in America selections.[15]

Van Ark co-starred opposite Richard Boone in the science fiction outing The Last Dinosaur, which was filmed at Tsuburaya Studios in Tokyo and on location in the Japanese Alps.[16] The picture was intended to be released theatrically but failed to find a distributor and instead aired as a TV movie in February 1977.

In addition, Van Ark performed the voice of Spider-Woman in the short-lived 1979 animated series of the same name.

After working for several years in a variety of guest roles on television, in 1978, she gained her best-known role as Valene Ewing (originally as a one-time appearance) on Dallas. Van Ark kept a tight schedule and was flying a lot the week of her Dallas debut, as Dallas was being filmed in Texas and she was simultaneously shooting an episode of The Love Boat in L.A. and doing voiceover work for Estée Lauder in New York.[17]

However, writers later worked the character into a couple of additional episodes; and in 1979, Van Ark then carried the Valene character over into the long-running spin-off, Knots Landing, in which she co-starred for thirteen of the show's fourteen seasons. She left in 1992, although she did return for its final two episodes in May 1993. Her character was married three times to husband Gary Ewing, played in the series by Ted Shackelford, and also had two other marriages during the show's run.

During her thirteen years on Knots Landing, Van Ark earned two Soap Opera Digest Awards for Best Actress (1986, 1989) and was nominated an additional six times. Over the course of the program, Van Ark probably received her greatest recognition as an actress during the sixth year, which featured an intricate storyline involving the theft of Valene's twin babies. Their disappearance prompted Valene to embark on a surreal emotional journey and pilgrimage in which she left the cul-de-sac in California and morphed into the persona of a character from a novel she had written.[18][19] In the 1984-1985 season finale, "The Long and Winding Road," Val finds out that her babies are still alive, and this episode's original broadcast marked the only time Knots Landing ever reached the #1 spot in the weekly Nielsen ratings.[20][21] In its edition dated June 29, 1985, TV Guide assessed of her performance: "Knots Landing has the grimmest plots but the strongest cast, headed by the incomparable Joan Van Ark as Valene."[22] Later on, she directed two of the series' episodes, one in the last season after she was no longer a regular performer on the serial.

In 1985, she also hosted CBS' Tournament of Roses Parade, which received a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Special Class Program.

Mirroring their characters' onscreen friendship, Van Ark and KL co-star Michele Lee became good friends while working together on the series. In May 1997, Van Ark reprised her role of Valene Ewing in the CBS mini-series Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac; while in December 2005, she appeared in the non-fiction reunion Knots Landing Reunion: Together Again, in which she reminisced with the other cast members about the long-running CBS television show.

Shortly before leaving Knots Landing, she starred opposite Christopher Meloni in an ill-fated pilot called Spin Doctors, a sitcom for NBC that was not picked up.

An ABC Afterschool Special called Boys Will Be Boys: The Ali Cooper Story (1994), which she appeared in and directed, was nominated for a Humanitas. In 1997, Van Ark also directed a documentary short on homelessness and domestic violence for the Directors Guild of America, and the piece was nominated for an Emmy Award.[8]

She originated the role of Gloria Fisher Abbott on CBS television's The Young and the Restless from 2004 to 2005, then decided to leave the role and was replaced by Judith Chapman.

Van Ark also appeared Off-Broadway opposite John Rubinstein in Love Letters, as well as in Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize winning Three Tall Women at the Promenade Theatre and The Exonerated at the Bleecker Street Theatre. In 2000, she performed in Camino Real in Washington, D.C.[23] Her Los Angeles theater credits include: Cyrano de Bergerac as Roxanne, as well as Ring Around the Moon, Chemin de Fer, Heartbreak House and As You Like It, for which she won a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award. Opposite David Birney, she appeared as Lady Macbeth in the Grove Shakespeare Festival's production of Macbeth, produced by Charles Johanson. Van Ark has also starred in three Williamstown Theatre Festival productions: The Night of the Iguana (1987),[24] the 40th anniversary presentation of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music (1994) [25] and The Legend of Oedipus (1988), which is a five-hour, two-part adaptation by Kenneth Cavander of the classic Greek tragedies and was directed by WTF co-founder Nikos Psacharopoulos,[26][27] who was also Van Ark's acting professor when she was attending the Yale School of Drama.

Later stage work includes: her origination of the role of Mrs. Fenway in Escape, one of the newly discovered Tennessee Williams' short plays featured as part of the Five by Tenn collection at the Kennedy Center in 2004;[28] the 2005 La Jolla Playhouse production of Private Fittings, directed by Des McAnuff, and a presentation of A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur in 2006 at the Hartford Stage.[8]

Her TV movies include: My First Love, in which she plays the younger woman in a romantic triangle with Bea Arthur and Richard Kiley; Always Remember I Love You opposite Patty Duke; Moment of Truth: A Mother's Deception; In the Shadows, Someone's Watching with Daniel J. Travanti, a former Yale classmate, and Rick Springfield; and based on the novel by Stuart M. Kaminsky, When the Dark Man Calls, in which she portrays a radio psychologist opposite Chris Sarandon as her brother Lloyd and James Read as Detective Lieberman.

Van Ark has also performed in a variety of guest roles, including on episodes of Bonanza, Night Gallery, M*A*S*H, The Six Million Dollar Man, Petrocelli, Quincy, Kojak, Barnaby Jones, and Rhoda (in which she played the ex-wife of Rhoda's husband). She appeared in three separate episodes of Medical Center, Cannon and The Rockford Files, and four separate episodes of The Love Boat. In 1978, she also appeared in an episode of Wonder Woman with Ted Shackelford, who would later become her onscreen husband Gary Ewing on both Dallas and Knots Landing. Post-KL guest spots include: The Nanny and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

In April 2001, Van Ark was featured in an episode of the Howard Stern-produced show Son of the Beach as Ima Cummings, the mother of show regular BJ Cummings (played by Jaime Bergman). In 2008, she was reunited with her Knots Landing co-star Donna Mills in an episode of the FX drama series Nip/Tuck. The same year, she also played a network executive in the film Channels.

In April 2009, Van Ark appeared at the TV Land awards, where Knots Landing was being honored on its 30-year anniversary. Other Knots Landing actors who were present included Michele Lee, Donna Mills, Kevin Dobson, Ted Shackelford, Lisa Hartman Black, Constance McCashin, Don Murray and Michelle Phillips, along with Dallas/Knots Landing creator David Jacobs.

In 2011, she performed voice work in an episode of the animated comedy series Archer. In 2013, she guest-starred in an episode of the new Dallas series, in which she reprised the role of Valene Ewing. The same year, she also appeared as a guest judge on the Logo series RuPaul's Drag Race.

Personal life[edit]

On February 1, 1966, Van Ark married news reporter John Marshall, who later became a correspondent for two decades at KNBC-TV and won both an Emmy and a Golden Mike Award.[29] Van Ark and Marshall were high school sweethearts in Boulder, Colorado, and wed in Trier, Germany, where Marshall was stationed at the time in the Armed Forces Television Service. For their honeymoon, they took a European tour of places made famous by her namesake, Joan of Arc.[30]

The couple's only child is voice actress, model, and singer Vanessa Marshall. In 1997, mother and daughter appeared together in the play Star Dust at the Tiffany Theater.[31]

Van Ark is a long-distance runner who has participated in 14 marathons and made the cover of Runner's World.[30]


Year Title Role Notes
1967 Run for Your Life Donna Hayward 2 episodes
1968 The Felony Squad Lynne Thackeray 1 episode
Peyton Place Paula 2 episodes
The Mod Squad April Showers 1 episode
1969 The Guns of Will Sonnett Laurie 1 episode
Bonanza Annie Laurie Adams 1 episode
Gunsmoke Sarah Jean Stryker 1 episode
1970 Hawaii Five-O Freda Cowan 1 episode
Days of Our Lives Janene Whitney #3 17 episodes
The F.B.I. Hanson Episode: The Condemned
The Silent Force Louise Hanson Episode: "A Deadly Game of Love"
Dan August Harrison's Secretary Episode: "The Union Forever"
1971 The Bold Ones: The New Doctors Evelyn Baker 1 episode
The F.B.I. Carla Episode: The Deadly Gift
1970–1972 Love, American Style Alice 2 episodes
1972 Frogs Karen Crockett THEATRICAL
The Judge and Jake Wyler Alicia Dodd TV movie and series pilot
Night Gallery Sondra Blanco Episode: "The Ring with the Red Velvet Ropes"
1973 Mannix Jennifer Crane Episode: "The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress"
1972–1973 Temperatures Rising Annie Carlisle 26 episodes
1974 Big Rose: Double Trouble Nina TV movie
Barnaby Jones Sheila Barner 1 episode
The Rockford Files Barbara Kelbaker

Susan Alexander

Episode: "Find Me If You Can."

Episode: s2:e4 "Resurrection in Black and White."

Cannon Anna Meister 1 episode
1975 Great Performances Silia Gala The play The Rules of the Game was shown in the Theater in America series
Rhoda Marian Gerard 1 episode
The Last of the Mohicans Cora Munro Voice only
1977 The Last Dinosaur Francesca 'Frankie' Banks TV movie
Kojak Detective Jo Lang Opposite Kevin Dobson, with whom she later co-starred in Knots Landing
1977 McMillan (formerly McMillan and Wife) Georgie 1 episode
1977–1978 We've Got Each Other Dee Dee Baldwin 13 episodes
1978 Quincy M.E. Bert Phillips 1 episode
Quark Princess Libido 2 episodes
Wonder Woman Cassandra Episode: "Time Bomb" with Ted Shackelford, who later played her husband on Knots Landing
1973–1978 M*A*S*H Lt. Erika Johnson 2 episodes: "Radar's Report" and "Our Finest Hour"
1978-1980 Manta and Moray Moray Voice only (8 episodes)
1979 Spider-Woman Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman Voice only (16 episodes)
1979–1984 The Love Boat Deborah Marshall/Kris Hayley/Mary Sue Huggins 4 episodes
1981 Red Flag: The Ultimate Game Marie TV movie: opposite William Devane, with whom she later co-starred in Knots Landing
1988 Shakedown on the Sunset Strip Brenda Allen TV movie
My First Love Claire Thomas TV movie
1990 Always Remember I Love You Martha "Marty" Mendham TV movie
Menu for Murder Julia Alberts TV movie
1978–1981, 1991 Dallas Valene Ewing 8 episodes
1979–1993 Knots Landing Valene Ewing 327 episodes
Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role: Prime Time (1986, 1989)
TV Land Award – Anniversary Award (2009)
Nominated – Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role: Prime Time (1988, 1991)
1993 In the Shadows, Someone's Watching Cinnie Merritt TV movie
1994 Moment of Truth: A Mother's Deception Nora McGill TV movie
1995 When the Dark Man Calls Julianne Kaiser TV movie: based on the novel by Stuart M. Kaminsky; in the book, her character's name is Jean Kaiser
1996 Touched by an Angel Kim Carpenter 1 episode
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Jewel Pemberton 1 episode
Santo Bugito Amelia Voice role (1 episode)
1997 Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac Valene Ewing TV mini-series
1998 The Nanny Margo Lange 1 episode
Loyal Opposition: Terror in the White House Vice President Elizabeth Lane TV movie
2000 Held for Ransom Nancy Donavan Direct to video film
It's the Pied Piper, Charlie Brown Secretary Voice role - TV Special
2001 Twice in a Lifetime Camilla Bianco / Anna Episode: "Mama Mia"
2001 Son of the Beach Ima Cummings Episode: "Light My Firebush"
2001 Heavy Gear: The Animated Series Commander Crusher Von Krieg Voice only (1 episode)
2001 UP, Michigan! Deborah Michaels THEATRICAL
2002 Tornado Warning Mayor McAnders TV movie
2003 Net Games Dr. Klein THEATRICAL
2004 The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy Wanda/Woman/Mandy #3 Voice only (1 episode)
2004–2005 The Young and the Restless Gloria Abbott 54 episodes
2005 Diamond Zero The Hemingway Diamond THEATRICAL
2008 Channels Megan Phillips THEATRICAL
2009 My Name Is Earl Janine 1 episode
2008–2010 Nip/Tuck Annette Wainwright 2 episodes
2011 Archer Ruth Voice only (1 episode)
2011-2012 Pretty the Series Miss Senior Someone Episode: "A Pretty Finale" (2011)

Episode: "The Prettiest Finale Yet" (2012)

2012 Watercolor Postcards Momma THEATRICAL
2013 Dallas Valene Ewing 1 episode
2014 The 636 Rose THEATRICAL (Short)
2015 Fallout 4 Bonnie Tournquist, Phyllis Daily & Roslyn Chambers Voice roles - Video Game
2017 Psycho Wedding Crasher Aunt Daisy TV movie
2019 Doom Patrol Mrs. Franklin Voice Role - Episode: "Hair Patrol"


  1. ^ "Staff". Charleston Daily Mail. June 16, 2009. p. 8B.
  2. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 280. ISBN 978-0025426504.
  3. ^ Joan Van Ark profile at Yahoo! Movies Archived December 23, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Pylant, James (March 25, 2015). "The Dutch-American Roots of Joan Van Ark". Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  5. ^ "Southern California Chapter: The Dutch American Hall of Fame". Netherland-America Foundation. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Seremet, Pat (April 5, 2006). "This Joan of Ark is in Town to Worship at Her 'Church'". Hartford Courant. p. D1.
  7. ^ Triplett, William (June 3, 2000). "Actress Joan Van Ark Returns to Her True Love, the Stage". The Washington Post. p. C1.
  8. ^ a b c "Joan Van Ark Biography". Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  9. ^ "Yale Alumni Magazine: famous Yalie dropouts (March 2001)". Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  10. ^ "Julie Harris Scholarship Established at Yale School of Drama". Broadway World. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
  11. ^ Paulson, Michael (June 30, 2021). "Yale Drama Goes Tuition-Free With $150 Million Gift From David Geffen". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  12. ^ "The School for Wives (Broadway, Lyceum Theatre, 1971)". Playbill. Retrieved January 27, 2022.
  13. ^ "The Rules of the Game Original Broadway Cast - 1974 Broadway". Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  14. ^ "Glenn Close Theatre Credits, News, Bio and Photos". Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  15. ^ "Rules of the Game". Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  16. ^ Homenick, Brett (August 19, 2018). "CHASING THE LAST DINOSAUR! A Candid Conversation with Joan van Ark!". Vantage Point Interviews. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  17. ^ McGrath, Nick (January 12, 2014). "Joan Van Ark: My husband had to make me guest-appear in Dallas". Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  18. ^ L, Knots; Fan, ing (September 22, 2020). "The Joan Van Ark Exclusive Interview". Knots Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  19. ^ L, Knots; Fan, ing (January 7, 2021). "Joan Van Ark Returns – Exclusive Interview #2". Knots Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  20. ^ Buck, Jerry (May 30, 1985). "'Knots Landing' Wins Ratings With Cliffhanger Finish". Retrieved November 2, 2021. {{cite web}}: Check |archive-url= value (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ Jr, Kevin Mulcahy. "INTERVIEW: From Theater to TV to the Web - Joan Van Ark, Part 1". Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  22. ^ "An Irreverent Look at the Past Season: The Best and Worst We Saw". Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  23. ^ "Camino Real Fades in the Mist in DC July 23". Playbill. July 23, 2000. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  24. ^ "Night of the Iguana, The". Williamstown Theatre Festival. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  25. ^ "Little Night Music, A". Williamstown Theatre Festival. Retrieved December 7, 2021.
  26. ^ "SUMMER THEATER. Would Sophocles recognize Williamstown's version of 'Oedipus'?". Christian Science Monitor. July 6, 1988. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  27. ^ "Legend of Oedipus, The". Williamstown Theatre Festival. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  28. ^ "More by Tenn | TheaterMania". Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  29. ^ "Marshall Hired by Channel 13". Los Angeles Times. February 28, 1992. Retrieved August 3, 2021.
  30. ^ a b L, Knots; Fan, ing (December 7, 2020). "Joan Van Ark in TV Guide". Knots Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  31. ^ "The Celebrity Collector - Joan van Ark". Retrieved October 15, 2020.

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