‘Knots Landing’ Star Joan Van Ark Tells Her Story Of Fame And Departure From Hollywood


Find out the full story of Joan Van Ark's remarkable lifeFind out the full story of Joan Van Ark's remarkable life

Soap opera characters go through plenty of ups and downs and that was certainly the case for the cast of Knots Landing. Joan Van Ark played Valene Ewing, who moves to LA for a fresh start with her husband Gary as they begin marriage number two and Val’s turbulent life was on display in explicit detail for 14 seasons. Can you believe that? But Joan Van Ark’s personal life was a much different story.

Who is Joan’s husband in real life? Was Joan Van Ark ever on M*A*S*H and why did she move away from Knots Landing? Today we’re going to dig deeper and tell you all about the private life of Joan Van Ark, the woman behind some of the most compelling arcs on TV. Without further ado, time to head on over to Sea View Circle.

A star is born

KNOTS LANDING, Joan Van Ark, Julie HarrisKNOTS LANDING, Joan Van Ark, Julie Harris
KNOTS LANDING, Joan Van Ark, Julie Harris, 1979-93, © Lorimar Television / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Joan Van Ark was born June 16, 1943, in New York. Her father named her after Joan of Arc because he knew she would become famous. Van Ark interviewed actress Julie Harris for her school newspaper at just 15 and it was a fateful encounter for the inspiring ingenue.

That’s because it was Harris recommended Van Ark to the Yale School of Drama and she became the second youngest student to receive a scholarship. Just in case you were wondering, Julie Harris was the youngest and Harris played Valene’s mother Lily May on Knots Landing and also became a mentor to Van Ark throughout her entire career.

Who is Joan Van Ark’s husband?

John Van Ark and John Marshall were high school sweethearts in Boulder, Colorado, and got married in Germany while Marshall was a reporter in the Armed Forces television service. After his military service ended, Marshall was a correspondent for KNBC TV for 20 years and won an Emmy and a Golden Mic Award.

But in 1992 Marshall was released from KNBC in a controversial cost-cutting move by new management. Now you did it. Well, Marshall immediately landed at a competing station but left after one day to pursue other opportunities outside of broadcasting.

Who is Joan Van Ark’s daughter

Actress Vanessa MarshalActress Vanessa Marshal
Actress Vanessa Marshal / Byron Purvis/AdMedia

Ark and John Marshall welcomed their first and only child Vanessa Marshall to the family on October 19, 1969, and the apple did not fall far from the tree. Vanessa received her undergraduate degree from Princeton and her Masters in acting from NYU she has worked as a model, a stand-up comic, and an actor.

As a result of all this hard work, Vanessa Marshall has over 200 voice acting credits including the role of Hera in Star Wars Rebels, Wonder Woman in DC’s Harley Quinn, and Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy. She also appeared on stage with her mom in 1997 in the play Stardust at the Tiffany Theater.

Was Joan Van Ark on ‘M*A*S*H?’

Before Knots Landing. Joan Van Ark had already worked with several major stars, including Telly Savalas, James Garner, Raymond Burr, Betty Davis, and James Arness in the Gunsmoke episode “Striker.” She plays Sarah Jean Striker, the daughter of a former U.S. marshal who returns to Dodge City to clear his name after 15 years in prison.

Yes, Joan Van Ark also appeared in the season two episode of M*A*S*H, “Radar’s Report.” Radar writes his report on a typical week for the 407 7th but it’s anything but typical; the episode features Majors Houlihan and Burns unsuccessfully attempting to get Corporal Klinger transferred out of the unit as well as Trapper’s ethical struggle with providing medical treatment to an enemy soldier. Van Ark plays assisting Captain Hawkeye Pierce during surgery. Of course, Captain Pierce begins pouring on the charm followed by a few drinks and he falls hard for the young Lieutenant but she’s ordered to Japan at the end of the episode and Hawkeye is heartbroken.

Joan strikes oil

It began in DallasIt began in Dallas
It began in Dallas / Everett Collection

Dallas debuted in 1978 as a five-part mini-series on CBS and neither the producers nor the network had further plans for the show when series creator David Jacobs offered the part of Val to Joan Van Ark. She was busy shooting Estee Lauder commercials in New York and was concerned about having enough time for the gig but her husband read the script and told her “you’ve got to It’s a wonderful part.” Joan would say, “I remember going to wardrobe and getting a peachy pink waitress uniform and the shoes and then I was trying to get that Texas sound her all-important accent and so we created her layer by layer.”

David Jacobs wanted to create a show based on family issues and examining relationships at the middle-class level. CBS passed because they were interested in something more glitzy with wealthier characters once Dallas became a huge success. The producers decided to expand the roles of certain characters and Knots Landing is officially spun off from Dallas in the third season.

Ted Shackleford plays Val’s husband Gary Ewing. It is impossible to simply summarize everything that happens to Val over 14 seasons but Hollywood blogger Greg Hernandez boldly gave it a shot saying “She had her husband Gary stolen by another woman and then got pregnant by him, her twin babies were kidnapped by a crooked doctor, she was given a drug overdose at gunpoint by her ex-husband’s fiancee and she racked up enough marriages to give Elizabeth Taylor a run for her money.”

Moving into the cul-de-sac

KNOTS LANDING, Joan Van Ark, 1979-1993. © CBS /Courtesy Everett Collection

Joan Van Ark and Donna Mills appeared together on the FX show Nip/Tuck in 2008 and she told Greg Hernandez she enjoyed picking things up right where they left off. Joan said, “We each had a surgery with Julian McMahon and we were all in bed with him it’s so un-Valene, barely any clothes, on bouncing around with Dr Christian Van Ark.” She also said she loves playing roles with women over 40 and who are still hot when a photograph of Joan at a 2007 Hollywood benefit began appearing in tabloids her seemingly unsuccessful efforts to turn back time became a meme; she was even parodied on Family Guy and two short months later this is what happened to Joan Van Ark.

Plastic surgeon Anthony Yoon speculated about which procedures she had done in the National Enquirer but Joan Van Ark addressed the rumors while appearing on Oprah alongside Donna Mills in 2014. it’s more the norm now, but boy did it cause a splash.

Why did Joan Van Ark quit Hollywood

She had an interesting relationship with age and beautyShe had an interesting relationship with age and beauty
She had an interesting relationship with age and beauty / Mario Casilli / TV Guide / courtesy Everett Collection

Actors on hit TV shows frequently struggle with burnout in later seasons and often seek new opportunities while their show is still on. So, when rumors began circulating that Knots Landing had run its course and wouldn’t be renewed, the writing seemed to be on the wall for Joan Van Ark, and she quit Knots Landing in 1992 to star in an ill-fated pilot for the sitcom Spin Doctors.

During a 2022 interview on the Behind the Velvet Rope podcast, Van Ark claimed she never felt she was on autopilot while shooting Knots Landing and she also said it was a mistake to leave the show at the end of season 13.

Life after ‘Knots Landing’ for Joan Van Ark

She admits to missing the famous, groundbreaking soap operaShe admits to missing the famous, groundbreaking soap opera
She admits to missing the famous, groundbreaking soap opera / ImageCollect

Van Ark has made numerous memorable guest appearances on some other great TV shows. Maybe you recall some of the programs: The Six Million Dollar Man, Quincy, Kojak, and Rhoda. She also appeared on multiple episodes of Medical Center, The Rockford Files and The Love Boat. In 2009, she appeared on Celebrity Ghost Stories to describe her own encounter with a ghostly apparition and Joan returned to television full-time in 2004 as Gloria Fisher Abbott on The Young and the Restless.

But she grew tired of the daily grind of daytime TV and left the show in 2005. Van Ark told Greg Hernandez, “It was a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.” Her last on-screen appearance was as Aunt Daisy in the made-for-TV movie Psycho Wedding Crasher in 2017.

Knots Landing was the first and only soap opera about middle-class families and was also the longest-running TV spin-off until 2013; that’s when season 15 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit aired. But during 13 Seasons as Val, Joan Van Ark earned six nominations and two Soap Opera Digest Awards for Best Actress. The cast did reunite in 1997 for the mini-series Knots Landing Back to the Cul-De-Sac and also in 2020 for a virtual reunion.

Photographers for Daily Mail spotted Joan running errands in 2022 and they reported that she dropped some coins while trying to feed the meter – holy smokes, way to get the scoop, guys, keep up the good work.

Were you a big fan of Knots Landing or did you prefer Dallas or what about Dynasty? It’s time for all this knowledge of the 20th century to pay off, so you have to get in the comments and let us know; we love reading your thoughts.

The actress made soap opera historyThe actress made soap opera history
The actress made soap opera history / ImageCollect
Joan Van Ark walking in the Go Red For Women – The Heart Truth Red Dress Collection 2014 Show at The Theatre at Lincoln Center on February 6, 2014 in New York City.


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