Joan Van Ark: From New York City Teenager to Television Icon

Joan Van Ark, a remarkable actress known for her iconic roles on television, was born on June 16, 1943, in New York City, New York. Despite not having any connections to the film industry, Joan’s talent and passion propelled her towards success.

One encounter would change the course of Joan’s life forever. During her teenage years as an actress in Denver, she met the renowned actress Julie Harris. Encouraged by Julie, Joan pursued her dreams and enrolled at the esteemed Yale Drama School. With Julie’s support and the scholarship she had acquired, Joan became the second woman ever to join the Drama School.

Although Joan initially performed in theater, her true passion lay in television. She gained immense recognition through her roles in various television series such as “Temperature’s Rising,” “Spider-Woman,” “Days of Our Lives,” and even a guest appearance on “Bonanza.” However, her breakthrough came in 1978 when she portrayed Valene Ewing on the popular show “Dallas.” This role not only brought her widespread popularity but also paved the way for her most significant role.

Due to the immense success of “Dallas,” Joan was then asked to join its spin-off show, “Knots Landing.” Interestingly, “Knots Landing” was actually written before “Dallas.” However, the producers believed that “Dallas” was the perfect platform to depict affluent households at that time, and Joan was compelled to continue playing Valene Ewing in “Dallas” instead of joining the “Knots Landing” cast.

For 13 seasons and 327 episodes, Joan Van Ark graced the screens of audiences as part of the cast of “Knots Landing.” There were even moments when her real-life connections intertwined with her on-screen family. On one occasion, Julie Harris, who played Joan’s mother on “Knots Landing,” was chosen for the role. It was a pleasant surprise for Joan, as Julie was a dear friend, and the producers were unaware of their connection.

After leaving “Knots Landing” a season before its final season, Joan Van Ark was ready for new adventures. Although many believed her departure led to the show’s cancellation, Joan knew it was time for fresh experiences. Reflecting on her time on the show, she expressed her gratitude for the 13 remarkable years she spent there and acknowledged the influence of David Jacobs, the creator of “Knots Landing,” on her life.

Joan’s talent and dedication to her craft continued to shine as she appeared in various roles after leaving “Knots Landing.” Notably, she joined the cast of “The Young and The Restless” as Gloria Fisher. Throughout her career, Joan has shown remarkable versatility and an undeniable presence on screen.

Beyond her successful acting career, Joan’s personal life has been filled with love and joy. She met her husband, the renowned newscaster John Marshall, in high school, and they have been happily married for 56 years. They have a lovely daughter named Vanessa Marshall, who is also involved in the entertainment industry. Despite their fame, the couple leads a private and fulfilling life away from the spotlight.

Now at the age of 78, Joan Van Ark continues to be as stunning as ever. With a net worth of $10 million, she remains an iconic figure in the entertainment industry. Although her most recent appearance on screen was in the 2017 television film “Psycho Wedding Crasher,” Joan’s influence and legacy endure.

Joan Van Ark, with her remarkable talent and incredible contributions to the film industry spanning 50 years, has been recognized as a life member of The Actor’s Studio. She truly is an icon worth celebrating.