Joan Van Ark has had a long and prosperous career as an actress in Hollywood, but it was her part as Valene Ewing on the primetime soap opera Knots Landing that helped her establish her reputation and secure her spot in the industry.
Joan, who was born on June 16, 1943, in New York City, was always certain that she belonged in Hollywood. Her parents had no connection to television in any way. She began acting when she was very young, and it was during a Denver performance that she first met Julie Harris, an actress who would have a significant impact on her life and career. Joan was convinced to enroll at the renowned Yale Drama School by Harris. Joan became the second woman to enroll at the institution at the time thanks to her help in getting a scholarship.
“Harris sent a letter to the dean and asked him to meet with me, and he agreed to do so. “To make a long story short, my parents took me to New Haven, Connecticut, to see the dean, who gave me a scholarship,” Joan said. “The dean was very kind. It was meant to be.”
Joan entered the world of television after spending a number of years working in the theater. She made guest appearances on a number of popular tv programs, including as Temperature’s Rising, Spider-Woman, and Days of Our Lives, as well as Bonanza for a single episode. The next year, in 1978, she appeared on the tv series Dallas in the recurring role of Valene Ewing, which would go on to become the most prominent role she has ever played in. Due to the overwhelming success of Dallas, the network made the decision to produce the spin-off series Knots Landing, in which Joan played the part of Valene Ewing once again. In point of fact, Knots Landing was written before Dallas; but, when it came time for the producers to choose which program to work on, they went with Dallas because they wanted a show about a “big rich family.”
Her husband was the one who ultimately convinced her to play the leading role on the tv show Knots Landing, which ran for a total of 13 seasons. Joan was already in the middle of working on two other projects when the invitation to have her be a part of the series was extended to her.
At one time, when the character of Valene Ewing’s mother was ready to be brought to the program, Joan couldn’t have imagined in a million years that the part of her TV mother would be handed to the person who meant the world to her, and that person was none other than Julie Harris.
In an interview she gave to Florida Today in 1984, she said, “I held my breath when the producers informed me they had finally found someone to play my mother.”
“Oh my God, I wondered whether they would mention Zsa Zsa Gabor or Phyllis Diller. Upon hearing that it was Julie Harris, my heart rate immediately shot through the sky. I was shocked that they chose her to be my mother. They had no idea that we were close.”
The program was discontinued a season after Joan left Knots Landing after 13 seasons and 327 episodes. Although Joan knew she was partly fault for the cancellation, she felt she wanted to take on fresh tasks.
She said, “I have enjoyed the 13 years I’ve spent on that program more than life. Knots Landing creator David Jacobs has had a significant impact on my life and educated me a great deal about a variety of subjects. Ted Shackelford is the other half of every breath I take on the show, and he’s a big part of my heart. These people are my family. We’ve been through marriages, deaths, and divorces together. It was much harder to leave than I thought it would be.”
Joan had guest appearances in a number of different television programs, the most notable of which being The Young and the Restless, in which she played Gloria Fisher.
Hollywood celebrities often marry other Hollywood celebrities, and these unions typically don’t last very long.
But Joan Van Ark, who met the love of her life in high school, didn’t experience it. While they were both students at Boulder, she met her husband, John Marshall. The wedding took place on a military base in Germany in 1966. They had a daughter, Vanessa Marshall, who works in the entertainment industry.
Despite being 78 years old, Joan still has a youthful beauty. Her estimated net worth is $10 million.
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