Joan Van Ark was born in New York City on June 16, 1943 to Dorothy Jean Van Ark and Carroll Van Ark. Her mother was a writer while her father worked in public relations.
She chose to be an actress after she didn’t get an invitation to prom during her highschool.
Joan Van Ark recalled, “That developed more in Boulder. I auditioned for a play at the Community Playhouse. The quarterback on the football team didn’t ask me to the prom, so I said, ‘Screw boys,’ and went and auditioned for a play, I didn’t get the part I auditioned for but got the flower girl and the bug bit. I did a monologue as my audition, and you could hear a pin drop. They complimented me so much I said, ‘Who needs guys?”
Van Ark went on to study acting and drama at the Yale Drama School.
She went to get gigs in television series and even at that didn’t stop looking for her breakthrough.
It wasn’t long before she got the role that changed her story forever. After appearing on Ewing on Dallas as Valence she reprised her role as Valene Ewing in Knots Landing – a spinoff of Dallas.
Knot landing became a massive success and Van Ark became a superstar.
“I got the call asking me to do a guest appearance in this show called Dallas, which was attracting a lot of buzz, but I said to my husband, ‘John, why should I even read this script? I can’t be in three places at once,’” she told Express. “Then he read it and said, ‘No, you’ve got to do it. It looks wonderful.”
At that time, Van Ark was working on a commercial in new York, and did the love boat simultaneously.
“So basically, he talked me into a schedule that had me in LA one day, then flying to Dallas for two days, followed by two days in New York and then back to Texas. But looking at this old cast photo from Knots Landing – the spinoff from Dallas – I’m so glad I listened to him,” she added.
In 1996, Van Ark tied the knot with her highschool sweetheart, John Marshall.
They welcomed their daughter, Vanessa Marshall a year after their marriage.
Van Ark told The Leader-Post in 1988, “He is the reason we have the most wonderful daughter in the world and that the marriage has stayed strong, I feel I am the committed person who can’t give up time for this or that.”
She continued, “He did not want to miss watching Venessa grow up, and he did not want to miss me,” she added. “He knows correspondents live out of suitcases. John made career choices I didn’t agree with because if it had been me, I would have packed my bags, and I would have been waiving at the airport.”
At the age of 78, Van Ark is doing so well and we wish her all the best.