Joan Van Ark
Joan Van Ark
Actress Joan Van Ark, shown here in 2008, appeared as Lt. Erica Johnson in the Season 2 M*A*S*H TV series episode "Radar's Report".
Personal Information
Born: (1943-06-16) June 16, 1943 (age 75)
Birthplace: New York City, New York, U.S.
Years active: 1963 - present
Spouse(s): John Marshall (February 1, 1966-present); 1 child
Series connection
Appeared on/Involved with: M*A*S*H TV series
Character/appeared as: Lieutenant Erica Johnson
Episode appearances/
Involved with:
"Radar's Report" (Season 2)

Joan Van Ark (born June 16, 1943) [1] made a guest appearance as Lieutenant Erica Johnson in the season 2 episode of M*A*S*H titled "Radar's Report". Joan is perhaps best know for her role as Valene Ewing, which she originated on the CBS-TV series Dallas and continued for thirteen seasons on its spin-off, Knots Landing. A life member of The Actors Studio,[2] Joan has also received a Theatre World Award and been nominated for a Tony Award for her stage work. [3]

Early lifeEdit

Born in New York City, Joan is the daughter of Dorothy Jean Hemenway), a writer, and Carroll Van Ark (born 1897, Holland, Michigan – died 1972), who worked in advertising and public relations.[4][5] Her paternal great-grandfather was an immigrant from theNetherlands.[6] Both of her parents were writers.[7] She grew up in Boulder, Colorado with three siblings: Carol (a writer), Mark and Dexter.

At the age of 15, as a student reporter, Van Ark met and interviewed actress Julie Harris, who later recommended Van Ark apply to the Yale School of Drama. Harris had been the youngest student to attend the school on scholarship. Van Ark was one of the few students to attend the graduate program without first having earned an undergraduate degree. She attended for only one year. Years later, Harris appeared onKnots Landing as Lilimae Clements, the mother of Valene Ewing, Van Ark's character.


Van Ark began her professional career at the Guthrie Theater in Molière's The Miser, oppositeHume Cronyn and Zoe Caldwell. That was followed by Death of a Salesman at the Guthrie with both Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. After a season at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., she was then cast in the national touring company of Barefoot in the Park, directed by Mike Nichols. She recreated the role in the critically acclaimed London Company and later on Broadway. She earned a Theatre World Award[9] and received a Tony nomination in 1971 for her performance in The School for Wives. After receiving a contract with Universal Studios, Van Ark co-starred with Bette Davis in The Judge and Jake Wyler, a 1972 television pilot that failed to be picked up by NBC.

Van Ark was also a regular castmember of the short-lived television sitcoms Temperatures Rising (1972–73) and We've Got Each Other (1977–78). After working for several years in a variety of guest roles on television, she gained her best-known role as Valene Ewing (originally as a one-time guest appearance on Dallas) in 1978. However, writers later worked the character into a couple of additional episodes; she then carried the character over into the long-running spin-off Knots Landing in 1979. She remained with Knots Landing for thirteen of the show's fourteen seasons, leaving in 1992 (although she did return for the series' final episode in May 1993). In the storyline, Valene was married three times to husband Gary Ewing (played in the series by Ted Shackelford), and had two other marriages during the show's run.

During her thirteen seasons on Knots Landing, Van Ark earned two Soap Opera Digest Awards for Best Actress and was nominated a further six times. She also directed two episodes of the series. Van Ark and co-star Michele Lee became good friends while working on the series, mirroring their characters' on-screen friendship. In May 1997, she reprised her role of Valene Ewing in the CBS mini-series, Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac, while in December 2005, she appeared in the non-fiction reunion Knots Landing Reunion: Together Again in which she reminisced with the other cast members of the long running CBS television show.

After leaving Knots Landing, she starred in an ill-fated pilot called Spin Doctors, a sitcom for NBC that was not picked up. In addition, she originated the role of Gloria Fisher Abbott on CBS television's The Young and the Restless from 2004–2005, then decided to leave the role and was replaced by Judith Chapman. [3][4]Joan Van Ark in 2008

She also appeared Off-Broadway opposite John Rubinstein in Love Letters. More recently, she co-starred in the New York production ofEdward Albee's Pulitzer Prize winning play Three Tall Women. Her Los Angeles theater credits include Cyrano de Bergerac as Roxanne, as well as Ring Around the Moon, Chemin de Fer, Heartbreak House and As You Like It, for which she won a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award. She appeared as Lady Macbeth in the Grove Shakespeare Festival's production of Macbeth. Van Ark has also starred in the Williamstown Theater Festival productions of The Night of the Iguana, The Legend of Oedipus, and the festival's 40th anniversary production of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music.

Joan has played a variety of guest roles in her career, including episodes of Bonanza, M*A*S*H, The Six Million Dollar Man, Petrocelli, Quincy, M.E., Kojak, Barnaby Jones, and Rhoda (in which she played the ex-wife of Rhoda's husband). She appeared in three separate episodes of Medical Center, Cannon and The Rockford Files, and four separate episodes of The Love Boat. In 1978, she also appeared in an episode ofWonder Woman with Ted Shackleford who would later become her onscreen husband Gary Ewing on both Dallas and Knots Landing. Van Ark also performed the voice of Spider-Woman in the short-lived 1979 animated series of the same name.

In April 2001, Van Ark was featured in an episode of the Howard Stern-produced show Son of the Beach as Ima Cummings, the mother of show regular BJ Cummings (played by Jaime Bergman). In 2008, she was reunited with her Knots Landing co-star Donna Mills in an episode of the FX drama series Nip/Tuck. The same year, she also played a network executive in the film Channels.

Van Ark appeared at the TV Land awards in April 2009 where Knots Landing was being honored on its 30 year anniversary. Other Knots Landing actors who were present included Michele Lee, Donna Mills, Kevin Dobson, Ted Shackelford, Lisa Hartman Black, Constance McCashin, Don Murray, and Michelle Phillips, along with Dallas/Knots Landing creator David Jacobs.

In 2011, she performed voice work in an episode of the animated comedy series Archer. In 2013, she reprised her role as Valene Ewing, guest-starring in an episode of the new Dallas series. The same year she also appeared as a guest judge on the Logo series RuPaul's Drag Race.

Personal and Family lifeEdit

Joan has been married to husband John Marshall, a former reporter with KNBC-TV, since February 1, 1966. They have one child, voice actress/performer Vanessa Marshall (born October 19, 1969).


  1. ^ "Staff". Charleston Daily Mail. 2009-06-16. p. 8B.
  2. A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio, David Garfield, MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York City, ISBN 0-02-542650-8, page 280, Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980.
  3. Joan Van Ark profile at Yahoo! Movies

External linksEdit