Recognize her? Better sit before you learn her true identity

Born on June 16, 1943, in New York City, Joan van Ark’s early years were far removed from the glitz of Hollywood, with parents who had no ties to the film industry.

It was during her teenage years, while pursuing acting in Denver, that she crossed paths with actress Julie Harris, a fateful encounter that altered the trajectory of her life. Harris’s encouragement led van Ark to the esteemed Yale Drama School, where she secured admission with a scholarship arranged by Harris herself.

Recalling the pivotal moment, van Ark reminisced: “It was meant to be”. While her initial passion lay in theater, van Ark eventually found her calling in television, gaining prominence for her roles in shows like “Temperature’s Rising”, “Spider-Woman”, and “Days of Our Lives”.

However, it was her portrayal of Valene Ewing in the hit series “Dallas” that catapulted her to stardom in 1978. The popularity of “Dallas” led to van Ark reprising her role in its spin-off, “Knots Landing”, a decision influenced by her husband, newscaster John Marshall.

Notably, van Ark’s on-screen mother in “Knots Landing” was none other than Julie Harris, a delightful surprise for van Ark given their close friendship, unbeknownst to the producers.

After 13 seasons and 327 episodes, van Ark bid farewell to “Knots Landing”, a decision tinged with mixed emotions. She departed the show a season before its conclusion, ready to embark on new adventures while cherishing the memories and bonds forged on set.

Transitioning to “The Young and The Restless”, van Ark continued to captivate audiences before eventually stepping back from the limelight. In her personal life, she found enduring love with John Marshall, whom she married in high school, and together they share a daughter, Vanessa Marshall.

Despite her decades-long career in the entertainment industry, van Ark maintains a low profile, relishing the quiet moments away from the public eye. Now at 78 years old, with a net worth of $10 million, van Ark’s beauty and grace remain undiminished, a testament to her timeless allure.

While her last on-screen appearance was in the 2017 television film “Psycho Wedding Crasher”, van Ark’s legacy endures, as evidenced by her recent induction as a life member of The Actor’s Studio—an enduring icon in the annals of Hollywood history.