Joan Van Ark first became well-known for her role as Valene Ewing in the Dallas spinoff series, Knots Landing. The actress, who briefly played the part again in 2012, is now happily married to the man she first fell in love with in high school, and they have a kid together.
Despite getting older, Van Ark, who is now 78, is still in good health. This tells you everything you need to know about Joan Van Ark’s life and her assertion that she is solely to blame for Knots Landing’s demise.
Dorothy Jean Van Ark and Carroll Van Ark had four children together when Joan was born on June 16, 1943 in New York City, New York. When she was 7 years old, her family relocated to Boulder, Colorado, and the new environment was very beneficial to her later in life.
Van Ark always knew she wanted to be an actor, despite the fact that her parents never worked in the film industry (her mother was a writer and her father was in public relations).
When the quarterback of her high school football team didn’t invite her to prom, Joan claimed to We Love Soaps, she made the decision to pursue a career in show business.
“Boulder is where that developed more. I attended a Community Playhouse audition for a play. Joan Van Ark recounted, “I thought, ‘Screw boys,’ and went and auditioned for a play since the quarterback of the football team didn’t ask me to the prom.
“I got the flower girl and the insect bit, but not the role I tried out for. I performed a monologue during my audition, and not a soul was stirring. They praised me so much that I said, “Who needs guys?”
During an interview for a neighborhood newspaper while performing in Denver, Van Ark met the actress Julie Harris, who convinced her to enroll in the Yale Theater School’s acting and drama program.
Van Ark was the second woman to enroll at the prestigious school and the youngest student to ever get a scholarship as a result. Julie Harris was the first female and assisted Van Ark in entering the school.
She requested a meeting with me in a letter to the dean. Short version: My parents drove me to New Haven, Connecticut, where I met the dean and received a scholarship. It was destined to happen.
Van Ark made her stage debut at the Minneapolis Guthrie Theater, playing the title role in Molière’s The Miser. In 1963, she relocated to work with the national touring company Barefoot in the Park after spending nearly a year performing at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. This led to her Broadway debut. She starred in The School for Wives and was nominated for a Tony Award in 1971 for Best Featured Actress in a Play.
By that time, Joan Van Ark had switched from working on stage to working in front of a screen. She made guest appearances on several television shows, including as Temperature’s Rising, Spider-Woman, Days of Our Lives, and even in a Bonanza episode.
Even though Joan Van Ark had enough of work, as the 1980s got closer, she was still searching for her important breakthrough role. She made multiple cameos on Dallas as Valene Ewing in 1978, which helped her land the part of a lifetime.
In 1979, Joan Van Ark returned to play Valene Ewing in the Dallas spinoff Knots Landing. She played alongside Michele Lee as Karen and Ted Schakleford as Gary in 327 episodes and rose to fame.
Although it was a Dallas spinoff about the corrupt but affluent Ewing Clan, it was originally introduced to CBS years before.
Dallas was chosen as the “large rich family” show the network sought, nevertheless. But as the studio learned how huge of a show Dallas had become, Knots Landing shot to fame and, after just one season, entered the top 20 of TV ratings.
The narrative of Gary Ewing and his wife Valene—played by Van Ark—and their decision to begin a new life in Knots Landing—became the focus of the television series Knots Landing.
Van Ark, however, almost failed to snag Valene Ewing’s role. She revealed that she had a “three-way conflict” in which she shot The Love Boat and a commercial in New York at the same time.
Her husband, John Marshall, who we will return to in a moment, ultimately convinced her to choose Dallas. Furthermore, it was a crucial and vital choice.
“I received a call asking me to make a guest appearance in the well famous television program Dallas, but I told my husband, John, ‘Why should I even read this script?’ She said, “I can’t be in three places at once. “After reading it, he responded, “No, you must do it. It looks fantastic.
Basically, he persuaded me to agree to a schedule that had me spending one day in LA, two days in Dallas, two days in New York, and then returning to Texas. But after seeing this old cast photo from Knots Landing, the Dallas spinoff, I’m so happy I paid attention to him,” she continued.
Van Ark, who became known for her part, made a 15-year commitment to Dallas and Knots Landing. She and Julie Harris, who had a long history together as was previously established, reconnected in 1980.
As the mother of Van Arks’ character in Knots Landing, Harris’ casting seemed almost too wonderful to be true for the actress.
She claimed in a 1984 interview that she “held my breath” when the producers informed her that they had finally found the right person to portray her 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 roof. I was astonished that they chose her to be my mother. They had no idea that we were close.
There were 327 episodes and 13 seasons with Joan Van Ark on the program. One season later, in 1993, Knots Landing was abruptly canceled. Joan did not, however, leave because she didn’t enjoy it. It was all about her taking on new challenges, instead.
Van Ark stated in 1992, “I could remain on the show indefinitely and be secure.”
However, three years ago, I performed Night of the Iguana in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and I had a Tennessee Williams quotation that was taken from an article he had written about success posted to my mirror. I’m paraphrasing here, but it said: “In Los Angeles, security is in the shape of a kidney-shaped pool, where you sit waiting for your residue checks.” On Knots, I was sitting in a comfortable position, which is against what an artist should do.
At the same time, Van Ark’s life started to revolve heavily around the television show. Even though she felt at ease leaving, it was still a hard blow because she had assumed it would be simpler.
She said, “I have loved the 13 years I’ve had on that show more than life.” “[Knots Landing founder] David Jacobs has had a significant impact on my life and educated me a great deal about a variety of subjects. Every breath I take on the program is complemented by Ted [Shackelford], who also occupies a significant portion of my heart. The individuals are members of my family; we have had the same marriages, deaths, and divorces. I underestimated how difficult it would be to leave.
Without the excellent chemistry between characters Valen and Gary, the show didn’t quite function. In actuality, Joan accepted responsibility for the show’s cancellation.
“Well, I’m to blame. I quickly switched to NBC to work on a pilot that did not sell, she claimed. “After spending fourteen years with the same woman, I was so ready to go on. I went to the pilot audition, and I got the part. The negotiations weren’t as smooth as they ought to have been. They asked me back after the pilot didn’t fare well, and I agreed to do the show’s four-hour conclusion.
Joan Van Ark retired from the soap opera industry but continued to appear in other television shows. She appeared in a few television movies and had small roles in several television series, including Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Joan played Gloria Fisher in 55 episodes of the wildly popular television serial The Young and the Restless between 2004 and 2005.
Hollywood celebrities frequently wed other Hollywood celebrities, and show business unions don’t always last for 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 union took place on a German military installation in 1966.
Believe me when I say it wasn’t anything like the marriages Valene Ewing has experienced.
They welcomed Vanessa Marshall, who also decided to pursue a career in entertainment, in 1969. She actually abandoned up on her on-camera acting career after becoming a successful voice-over performer. Instead, Vanessa Marshall has provided voices for various computer games, television shows, and animated movies.
John Marshall later went on to work for NBC and KNBC-TV and win an Emmy. Along with his wife Joan, he has enjoyed a successful career. Vanessa was growing up as the couple worked hard to succeed in their respective fields.
Van Ark found it challenging to run the business while also becoming a mother. She also praises her husband John for maintaining the family unit throughout those trying times.
Van Ark told The Leader-Post in 1988, “He is the reason we have the most amazing daughter in the world and that the marriage has stayed solid.” “I believe myself to be the dedicated individual who can’t sacrifice time for this or that.”
She said, “He did not want to miss me and he did not want to miss watching Venessa grow up.” “He is aware that journalists travel light. If it had been me, I would have packed my things and been waving at the airport, but John made professional decisions I disagreed with.
Joan Van Ark is an actor, but she also enjoys running a lot. The 78-year-old woman, who has finished multiple marathons, described why she prefers to run over seeing a psychotherapist. She asserted, though, that she would never go for a run with her husband.
Why? Because, in my experience, “it’s the quickest road to a divorce. You often criticize how other people dress, Joan said.
Joan Van Ark has continued to perform on stage in various theatrical productions over the past ten years in addition to starring in films and television shows like Psycho Wedding Crasher and Watercolor Postcards. But her wonderful influence over Dallas and Knots Landing will always be remembered as her greatest achievement.
Joan Van Ark is estimated to be worth $10 million.