Joan Van Ark: A Hollywood Star Who Made Her Mark on *Knots Landing*

Joan Van Ark

Joan Van Ark is a name that evokes memories of the beloved primetime soap opera Knots Landing. Born on June 16, 1943, in New York City, this talented actress has had a long and successful career in Hollywood. However, it was her role as Valene Ewing on Knots Landing that truly solidified her place in the film industry.

From a young age, Joan knew that she belonged in Hollywood. She began performing at a tender age and it was during a performance in Denver that she met actress Julie Harris, who would become a significant influence in her life. It was Harris who convinced Joan to attend the prestigious Yale Drama School and even helped her secure a scholarship. Joan became the second woman to enroll in the school at that time, thanks to Harris’s intervention.

After honing her skills in theater, Joan transitioned to television. She appeared in various television series such as Temperature’s Rising, Spider-Woman, Days of Our Lives, and even had a guest role on Bonanza. However, it was in 1978 when she made her first appearances as Valene Ewing on Dallas that her career took a major turn. The success of Dallas led to the creation of the spin-off series Knots Landing, where Joan reprised her role as Valene Ewing. It’s interesting to note that Knots Landing was actually written before Dallas, but the producers chose Dallas as their initial focus because they wanted a show about a “big rich family”.

Joan’s portrayal of Valene Ewing made her a household name. She became a central character on Knots Landing for an impressive 13 seasons. What’s more, it was her own husband who convinced her to accept the role, even though she was already juggling two other projects at the time.

One of the most remarkable moments for Joan on the show was when her character’s mother was introduced. To her surprise, the role was given to none other than her dear friend, Julie Harris. In an interview with Florida Today, Joan recalled how she went “right through the roof” upon learning this news. The producers had no idea about their friendship, making the casting choice even more special.

After 327 episodes and 13 seasons, Joan bid farewell to Knots Landing, and the show was eventually canceled a season later. Joan was well aware that her departure played a part in the show’s ending, but she believed it was necessary to explore new challenges. Leaving the show proved to be a bittersweet experience for Joan, as she cherished her time on set and the relationships she had formed with the cast and crew. She describes it as a family, having shared everything from marriages to deaths and divorces with them.

Following her departure from Knots Landing, Joan continued to appear in various television series. One notable role was her portrayal of Gloria Fisher in The Young and The Restless.

Joan Van Ark’s talent and contribution to the entertainment industry cannot be understated. Her role as Valene Ewing on Knots Landing not only helped her achieve fame and success but also left a lasting impact on television history. Joan’s journey serves as an inspiration to aspiring actors and reminds us of the power of friendship and the importance of embracing new challenges.