Joan van Ark

Actress, Director


Dutch American Heritage Award 1996 Recipient

Joan van Ark’s professional start began at Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater in Moliere’s “The Miser”, opposite Hume Cronyn and Zoe Caldwell and playing in repertory with “Death of a Salesman” with Cronyn and Jessica Tandy.

After a season at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. she was cast in the national touring company of “Barefoot in the Park”, directed by Mike Nichols, recreated the role in the critically acclaimed London company and later on Broadway. Ms. van Ark earned a Tony nomination for her role in “The School for Wives” and won the Theater World Award for “The Rules of the Game”. She also appeared off-Broadway in “Love Letters”.

Most recently, she co-starred in the New York production of Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, “Three Tall Woman”. Her Los Angeles theater credits include “Cyrano de Bergerac” playing Roxanne opposite Richard Chamberlain as Cyrano, “Ring Around the Moon” with Michael York, “Chemin de Fer”, “Heartbreak House” and “As You Like It”, for which she won a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award.

Perhaps best known for her role as Valerie Ewing on “Dallas” and “Knots Landing” for 13 seasons, which earned her six nominations and two Soap Opera Digest Awards for Best Actress, she also starred in the TV comedies, “Temperatures Rising” and “We’ve Got Each Other”. Last fall she was one of the voices for CBS-TV’s new Saturday morning series, “Santa Bugito”.  Ms. van Ark also directed a short documentary on homelessness and domestic violence for the Directors Guild of America.

A marathon runner, van Ark has been married more than 20 years to Emmy-winning newscaster John Marshall. They have a daughter, Vanessa.

Joan van Ark’s Great Grandfather, Gradus, came over from the Netherlands and settled in Holland, Michigan. He built the family furniture store in town and the Third Dutch Reformed Church. He was best known and loved as the Town Wine Maker. The wine was made for the church communion services, but Joan’s father, Carroll, remembers going to Grandpa’s house for Sunday family dinner where the wine had nothing to do with communion. Before dinner, Grandpa would take the men down into the basement to inspect the vats. Some time later, they would all come back upstairs with flushed faces and jolly spirits.  After the death of his first wife, Grandpa Gradus, well into his eighties, further distinguished himself by marrying a young woman. His male descendants claim that Grandpa Gradus infused future bloodlines with “Hot Dutch Love”, a trait of which all Dutchmen are traditionally proud.

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