Tall, blonde leading-lady Joan Van Ark began making the guest-appearance rounds in TV programs of the early 1970s. Her first regular nighttime series work was in the sitcoms Temperatures Rising (73) and We've Got Each Other (77). Though adept at comedy, Joan is better known for her soap-opera work, first as Janene Whitney on the daytimer Days of Our Lives, then as Valerie Ewing on the nighttime serial Dallas. One year after her first 1978 appearance as Valerie, Joan carried the character over into the spin-off series Knot's Landing, appearing in both series until 1981. Joan Van Ark remained with Knot's Landing almost up to its cancellation in 1993; when she left to do a pilot for a TV sitcom, the producers contrived to have her character blown up in a car, effectively preventing Ms. Van Ark from harboring second thoughts. A little-known aspect of Joan Van Ark's career is her extensive work as a cartoon voiceover actress, notably as the leading character in the Saturday morning animated series Spiderwoman (79).
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Married her high-school sweetheart, veteran newscaster John Marshall, in 1968.
- Based on advice from actress Julie Harris, whom she interviewed for her school paper, applied to Yale School of Drama straight out of high school. Harris would later play her mother in Knots Landing.
- Has done voice-over work for various cartoons, including Spider-Woman and Thundarr the Barbarian.
- Avid runner who competed in the 1979 Boston marathon; ran the Los Angeles Marathon in 2011 to raise money for Japan.
- Active in a number of charities, including the Los Angeles Mission, who provide hope to homeless men and women; and the Children's Diabetes Foundation.