Joan Van Ark

Joan Van Ark Headshot

Actress

Birth Date: June 16, 1943

Age: 81 years old

Birth Place: New York, New York

Tall, leggy and blonde, Joan Van Ark is best recalled as the long-suffering Valene Ewing on "Knots Landing" (CBS, 1981-93), but is also a successful stage actress and her velvet voice has made her one of the most prolific voice-over performers for TV and radio commercials and animated projects.

Van Ark attended the Yale School of Drama, reportedly as one of the youngest students ever. After graduating, she appeared with the prestigious Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Her big break came when she was tapped to replace Elizabeth Ashley as the idealistic, free-spirited female lead of Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park" on Broadway and on tour. In 1971, Van Ark earned a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her work in "The School for Wives." Following that success, she moved to L.A., but periodically returned East to appear on stage. Van Ark worked summers at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and in 1995 replaced Marian Seldes in Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Three Tall Women." She co-starred with her daughter Vanessa Marshall in the 1997 L.A. production "Star Dust."

Van Ark began to travel West in the late 1960s and established a toe-hold on the small screen. In 1968, she appeared in episodes of "The Guns of Will Sonnet," "The Mod Squad" and "Gunsmoke." She had her first regular series work as a sexy nurse on the first season of the ABC sitcom "Temperatures Rising." On the short-lived CBS sitcom "We've Got Each Other" (1977-78), she was hilarious as a self-involved model. Throughout the 70s, Van Ark made numerous guest appearances in key roles on series: In a 1975 episode of "Rhoda" she played the first wife of Rhoda's husband while in a 1977 episode of "Kojak" she was the first woman cop in the squad room. TV-movies like "The Judge and Jake Wyler" (NBC, 1972) and miniseries like the syndicated "Testimony of Two Men" (1977) also provided work.

Cast in 1978 as the fragile Valene Ewing, the wife of black sheep Gary, on the CBS primetime serial "Dallas," Van Ark found what was to become her signature role. Val and Gary were originally to be the anchors of the spin-off series, "Knots Landing." Over the long run of the show, the focus changed, but the characters remained integral to the plot. Van Ark was given the opportunity to work with her idol, Julie Harris, who played her mother, and a rising actor, Alec Baldwin, was cast as her brother. As with several of the regulars, she was also given the opportunity to direct episodes. Because of her strong voice--she could have been a news anchor--and presence, Van Ark found herself acting as host for CBS specials like the Tournament of Roses Parade and both the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants.

Of course, the inevitable TV-movie roles came as well. Van Ark was the wife of test pilot Barry Bostwick in "Red Flag: The Ultimate Game" (CBS, 1981), played famed 40s Hollywood madam Brenda Allen in "Shakedown on the Sunset Strip" (CBS, 1988), portrayed a power-made PTA president in "Menu for Murder" (CBS, 1980) and was Stephen Dorff's adopted mother from whom he flees to find his real mother in "Always Remember I Love You" (CBS, 1990). In 1993, Van Ark was executive producer of "In the Shadows, Someone's Watching" (NBC), and in 1994, played a wife and mother who becomes a fanatical cult member in "Moment of Truth: A Mother's Deception" (NBC). She directed "Boys Will be Boys," a 1994 "ABC Afterschool Special" about a girl who finds her reputation besmirched by innuendo and scribblings on the lavatory wall. She reprised her most famous role in "Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-De-Sac" in 1997.

Additionally, Van Ark leant her unique vocal talents to a number of TV commercials (for perfume, automobiles, etc.) and numerous animated projects She was the voice of the comely Roxanne in the 1975 ABC version of "Cyrano" and a lead voice in "Batman and the Super Seven" in 1980. More recently, she was a seductive insect in the CBS animated series "Santo Bugito" (1995-96).

Credits

Daily Blast Live

Guest
Show
2017

Psycho Wedding Crasher

Actor
Aunt Daisy
Movie
2017

Watercolor Postcards

Actor
Momma
Movie
2013

The Talk

Guest
Talk
2010

Access Hollywood Live

Guest
Show
2010

Channels

Actor
Megan Phillips
Movie
2008

My Name Is EarlStream

Guest Star
Janine
Series
2005
82%

Icemaker

Actor
The Hemingway Diamond
Movie
2005

Nip/TuckStream

Guest Star
Annette Wainwright
Series
2003
74%

Net Games

Actor
Dr. Klein
Movie
2003

Tornado Warning

Actor
Mayor McAnders
Movie
2002

Son of the Beach

Guest Star
Series
2000

Held for Ransom

Actor
Nancy Donavan
Movie
2000

The Ghoul

Actor
Show
1998

Loyal Opposition: Terror in the White House

Actor
Vice President Elizabeth Lane
Movie
1998

Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac

Actor
Movie
1997

The Client

Guest Star
Show
1995

Women of the HouseStream

Guest Star
Series
1995
38%

CybillStream

Guest Star
Series
1995

When the Dark Man Calls

Actor
Julianne Kaiser
Movie
1995

Touched by an AngelStream

Guest Star
Series
1994

Moment of Truth: A Mother's Deception

Actor
Nora McGill
Movie
1994

The NannyStream

Guest Star
Series
1993

Con Mala Intención

Actor
Movie
1993

Tainted Blood

Actor
Mrs. Drew
Movie
1993

In the Shadows, Someone's Watching

Actor
Cinnie Merritt
Movie
1993

Terror on Track 9

Actor
Leslie Renner
Movie
1992

The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirStream

Guest Star
Series
1990

Menu for Murder

Actor
Julia Alberts
Movie
1990

Always Remember I Love You

Actor
Martha Mendham
Movie
1990

The Joan Rivers ShowStream

Guest
Talk
1989

Shakedown on the Sunset Strip

Actor
Brenda Allen
Movie
1988

My First Love

Actor
Claire Thomas
Movie
1988

Red Flag: The Ultimate Game

Actor
Lt. Linda Fowles
Movie
1981

Drapeau rouge: L'Ultime manoeuvre

Actor
Movie
1980

Knots Landing

Actor
Valene Ewing Gibson Waleska
Series
1979

Knots Landing

Director
Series
1979

Knots Landing DFN

Actor
Show
1979

Spider-Woman

Voice
Show
1979

DallasStream

Guest Star
Soap
1978

The Last Dinosaur

Actor
Francesca "Frankie" Banks
Movie
1977

McMillan

Guest Star
Georgie
Show
1976

Wonder WomanStream

Guest Star
Series
1976

Joe Forrester

Guest Star
Show
1975

Shell Game

Actor
Shirley
Movie
1975

The Rockford FilesStream

Guest Star
Barbara Kelbaker
Series
1974

Rhoda

Guest Star
Series
1974

Big Rose

Actor
Nina
Movie
1974

Cyrano

Voice
Roxanne
Movie
1974

KojakStream

Guest Star
Det. Josephine Long
Series
1973

The Girl With Something Extra

Guest Star
Series
1973

The Young and the RestlessStream

Actor
Series
1973

The Six Million Dollar ManStream

Guest Star
Valerie Sheffield
Series
1973

Barnaby JonesStream

Guest Star
Series
1973

Great PerformancesStream

Actor
Franchise
1972

Afterschool Special

Actor
Show
1972

M*A*S*HStream

Guest Star
Lt. Erica Johnson
Series
1972

Temperatures Rising

Actor
Annie Carlisle
Show
1972

Frogs

Actor
Karen Crockett
Movie
1972

The Judge and Jake Wyler

Actor
Alicia Dodd
Movie
1972

Cannon

Guest Star
Francine Dexter
Series
1971

Night Gallery

Guest Star
Series
1970

The Odd CoupleStream

Guest Star
Trudy
Series
1970

Dan August

Guest Star
Harrison's Secretary
Series
1970

Love, American Style

Actor
Jelen
Series
1969

Mod Squad

Guest Star
April Showers
Series
1968

MannixStream

Guest Star
Jennifer Crane
Series
1967

The Guns of Will Sonnett

Guest Star
Series
1967

The Felony Squad

Guest Star
Lynne Thackeray
Show
1966

BonanzaStream

Guest Star
Series
1959

GunsmokeStream

Guest Star
Sarah Jean Stryker
Series
1955

Today

Guest
News
1952

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