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The Story of Joan Van Ark

Known as Valene Ewing on the famous TV series Dallas, actress Joan Van Ark rose to fame in the 1980s. While this is where she gained most of her recognition, she returned to her role in the spin-off series Knots Landing in 2012 for just one episode.

Van Ark is happily married to her high school sweetheart and they have a daughter together. At 78 years old, she remains active and vibrant. In a recent interview, Van Ark claimed sole responsibility for Knots Landing’s demise.

Her family moved to Boulder, Colorado when she was a young child. Later in her career, she found this change of scenery advantageous.
Joan Van Ark never doubted her desire to become an actress from a young age. She recounted that when the quarterback of her high school football team didn’t ask her to the prom, she knew she was destined for show business. Despite her parents lacking prior film industry experience, they always supported her endeavors. With roles in both film and television, Van Ark has enjoyed a distinguished career spanning over 50 years.

In a play, Joan Van Ark was cast as the flower girl after not being chosen for the role she initially auditioned for. After thoroughly enjoying herself, she made the decision to take acting more seriously. She discovered a love for acting that became a significant part of her life.

After meeting actress Julie Harris while performing in Denver, Van Ark enrolled at the Yale School of Drama. Harris encouraged her to pursue acting and drama studies. Van Ark was the youngest student ever to receive a scholarship at the prestigious institution and only the second woman to enroll there.

“After writing to the dean, my parents drove me to New Haven, Connecticut to meet him. He offered me a predetermined scholarship.”

Van Ark made her acting debut in 1963 in The Miser at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. After spending a year at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, she moved south to work with the national touring company of Barefoot in the Park.

Transitioning from stage to screen, Van Ark made her Broadway debut and in 1971, following her role in The School for Wives, she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play. She made guest appearances on various TV shows including Temperature’s Rising, Spider-Woman, Days of Our Lives, and even an episode of Bonanza.

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