Friday, February 11, 2011

Mamie Van Doren

Mamie Van Doren (born February 6, 1931) is an American actress, American singer and sex symbol.

Van Doren was born Joan Lucille Olander in Rowena, South Dakota, the daughter of Warner Carl Olander (March 30, 1908 – June 4, 1992) and Lucille Harriet Bennett (January 21, 1912 – August 27, 1995). She is of three-quarters Swedish ancestry; the remainder is mixed English and German. Her mother named her after Joan Crawford. In 1939, the family moved to Sioux City, Iowa. In May 1942, they moved to Los Angeles.
In early 1946, Joan began working as an usher at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. The following year, she had a bit part on an early television show. She also sang with Ted Fio Rito's band and entered beauty contests. Van Doren was married for a brief time at seventeen. She and first husband, Jack Newman, eloped to Santa Barbara. The marriage dissolved quickly, upon her discovery of his abusive nature. In the summer of 1949, at age 18, she won the titles "Miss Eight Ball" and "Miss Palm Springs". She was also engaged to marry legendary boxer Jack Dempsey, but broke off the engagement when she signed her first contract with Universal.
Joan was discovered by famed producer Howard Hughes on the night she was crowned Miss Palm Springs. The pair dated for several years. Hughes launched her career by placing her in several RKO films.

Early career

Hughes provided Van Doren with a bit part in Jet Pilot at RKO, which was her motion picture debut. Her line of dialogue consisted of one word, "Look!" and she appears uncredited in the film. Though production of the movie was from 1949 to 1953 (delays by Hughes), it was not released until 1957. The following year, 1951, she posed for famous pin-up girl artist Alberto Vargas, the painter of the glamorous "Vargas Girls." His painting of Van Doren was on the July cover of Esquire.
Van Doren did a few more bit parts in movies at RKO, including His Kind of Woman (1951) starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell and Vincent Price. About her appearance in that one, Van Doren has said, "If you blinked you would miss me. I look barely old enough to drive."
Van Doren then began working on the stage. She was a showgirl in New York in Monte Proser's nightclub version of Billion Dollar Baby. Songwriter Jimmy McHugh discovered her for his musicals, then decided she was too good for the chorus line and should have dramatic training. She studied with Ben Bard and Bliss-Hayden. While appearing in the role of Marie in a showcase production of Come Back, Little Sheba, Van Doren was seen by Phil Benjamin, a casting director at Universal International.


On January 20, 1953, Van Doren signed a contract with Universal Studios. The studio had big plans for her, hoping she would bring the same kind of success that 20th Century Fox had with Marilyn Monroe, the reigning sex symbol of the era. Van Doren, whose signing day coincided with the inauguration of President Eisenhower, was given the first name Mamie for Ike's wife, Mamie Eisenhower. Other Van Dorens, who were unrelated to Mamie, were a prominent and noted family of American intellectuals; these Van Dorens included two Pulitzer Prize winning brothers, Carl (biographer) and Mark (poet), and Mark's wife Dorothy, an academic and historian. Mark and Dorothy's son, Charles Van Doren, made front page news both by winning $129,000 on a television game show in 1957, then admitting in 1959 that the program was rigged. The publicity around this scandal kept the name 'Van Doren' in the newspapers and tabloids.
Van Doren's first movie for Universal was Forbidden, playing a singer. She then made All-American (1953), playing her first starring role as Susie Ward, a wayward girl who is the man-trap at a campus beer joint. This film also starred Tony Curtis. In Yankee Pasha starring Jeff Chandler and Rhonda Fleming, she played a slave girl, Lilith. In 1956 she played opposite a pre-fame Clint Eastwood in Star in the Dust.
Van Doren starred in several bad girl movies that later became cult films. She also appeared in some of the first movies to feature Rock & Roll music and became identified with this rebellious style, and made some rock records. In the film Untamed Youth in 1957, she was the first woman to sing rock and roll in a Hollywood musical (Eddie Cochran did the music for the film). This film was later featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000's "Untamed Youth" (1990).
Some of Van Doren's more noteworthy movies include Teacher's Pet (1958) at Paramount, Born Reckless (1958) at Warner Bros., High School Confidential (1958), and The Beat Generation (1959), the latter two at MGM. But Van Doren was just as well known for her provocative roles. She was in prison for Girls Town (1959), which provoked censors with a shower scene where audiences could see Van Doren's naked back. As Eve in The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (1960) she wore only fig leaves, and in other films, like The Beautiful Legs of Sabrina (1959), Sex Kittens Go to College (1960) and Vice Raid (1960) audiences were clued in as to the nature of the films from the titles.
Many of Van Doren's film roles showcased her ample curves, and her on screen wardrobe usually consisted of tight sweaters, low-cut blouses, form-fitting dresses, and daring (for the era) swimsuits. While she and other blonde bombshell contemporaries as Cleo Moore, Sheree North, Joi Lansing, Greta Thyssen, and Barbara Nichols did not attain the same level of superstar status as Marilyn Monroe, Van Doren did become a very famous star and notable Hollywood sex symbol. Marilyn, Mamie and Jayne Mansfield were known as the "Three M's." But by comparison, where Monroe succeeded in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Mansfield had a big success with Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, (a part that was originally written for Van Doren, who turned it down), Universal stuck Van Doren with Francis the Talking Mule in Francis Joins the WACS.

Film career in decline

As Van Doren's career progressed, many of the productions she starred in were low-budget B-movies. They are largely unknown to later generations, though some have gained a following for their high camp value.
In 1959, Universal chose not to renew her contract. Van Doren was now a free agent and had to struggle to find work. Some of her later movies were foreign and independent productions, such as Sex Kittens Go to College (1960), The Blonde from Buenos Aires (1961), The Candidate, The Navy vs the Night Monsters (1966) as well as Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968), directed by Peter Bogdanovich, who used the pseudonym 'Derek Thomas' for the film.

Personal life

Van Doren has been married five times: to sportswear manufacturer Jack Newman (married 1950-divorced 1950); to bandleader, composer and actor Ray Anthony (married 1955-divorced 1961); to baseball player Lee Meyers (married 1966-divorced 1967); to businessman Ross McClintock (married 1972-divorced 1973); and to actor Thomas Dixon (married 1979–present).
She and Anthony had one son, Perry Ray Anthony (born March 18, 1956).
Van Doren's early 1960s, highly publicized, on-again off-again engagement to baseball player Bo Belinsky ended for good in 1964. She acknowledged numerous affairs in her autobiography, including ones with Clark Gable, Howard Hughes, Johnny Carson, Elvis Presley, Burt Reynolds, Jack Dempsey, Steve McQueen, Johnny Rivers, Robert Evans, Eddie Fisher, Warren Beatty, Tony Curtis, Steve Cochran, and Joe Namath. Claiming fidelity to each lover, she said about Hollywood life, "I don't wear panties anymore – this startles the Hollywood wolves so much they don't know what to pull at, so they leave me alone."
She posed twice for Playboy in 1963 to promote her movie 3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt (1964), though she was never a Playmate. By this point in her career, her voluptuous figure measured 38DD-26-36 (self-described in 1997). She said about her curves, "I don't even want to say double-D, because they're even bigger than that."
In 1964, Van Doren was a guest at the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood when The Beatles were at the club visiting with Jayne Mansfield, and an inebriated George Harrison accidentally threw his drink on her when trying to throw it on some bothersome journalists.
Van Doren developed a nightclub act and did live theatre. She performed in stage productions of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Dames at Sea at the Drury Lane Theatre, Chicago, and appeared in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and The Tender Trap at the Arlington Park Theatre.
During the Vietnam War, she did tours for U.S. troops in Vietnam for three months in 1968, and again in 1970. In addition to USO shows, she visited hospitals, including the wards of amputees and burn victims that many other celebrities avoided.
Van Doren's guest appearances on television include What's My Line, The Bob Cummings Show, The Jack Benny Show, Fantasy Island, Burke's Law, Vega$, and L.A. Law.
In the 1970s, Van Doren performed a nightclub act in Las Vegas.

Second career in later life

in Los Angeles, 1987
In 1980, Van Doren was referenced in the controversial Canadian Top 20 hit High School Confidential by the popular 1980s Canadian new wave band Rough Trade. In 2005, "High School Confidential" was named the 38th greatest Canadian song of all time on the CBC Radio One series 50 Tracks: The Canadian Version.
Van Doren's autobiography, Playing the Field (1987), brought much new attention to the veteran sex symbol and proved to be her biggest media splash in over 25 years. Since the book's publication she has often been interviewed and profiled and has occasionally returned to acting. She has consistently denied in interviews ever having breast implants. In 2006, Mamie posed for photographs for Vanity Fair with Pamela Anderson, as part of its annual Hollywood issue.
Van Doren and her husband, Thomas, maintain her web site. There, she sells autographed "nipple prints" and home-made short films starring herself, such as A Girl and Her Banana. Her contemporary topless and nude photos, and outspoken political views, have helped create a larger fan base than at any time in her career. Van Doren has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7057 Hollywood Boulevard.


Year Film Role Co-Stars Notes
1951 Footlight Varieties Blonde in theater (uncredited) Jack Paar, Leon Errol
1951 His Kind of Woman Lodge guest at bar (uncredited) Jane Russell, Robert Mitchum
1951 Two Tickets to Broadway Showgirl (uncredited) Janet Leigh, Tony Martin, Gloria DeHaven, Ann Miller
1953 Forbidden Singer (uncredited) Tony Curtis, Joanne Dru
1953 All-American Susie Ward Tony Curtis, Lori Nelson First starring role.
1954 Hawaiian Nights (short subject) Glamour Girl Pinky Lee, Lisa Gaye
1954 Yankee Pasha Lilith, Harem Slave Jeff Chandler, Rhonda Fleming
1954 Francis Joins the WACS Cpl. Bunky Hilstrom Donald O'Connor, Julie Adams Fifth in the Francis the Talking Mule series.
1955 Ain't Misbehavin' Jackie Piper Laurie, Rory Calhoun, Jack Carson
1955 The Second Greatest Sex Birdie Snyder Jeanne Crain, George Nader, Bert Lahr
1955 Running Wild Irma Bean William Campbell, Keenan Wynn
1956 Star in the Dust Ellen Ballard John Agar, Richard Boone
1957 Untamed Youth Penny Lowe Lori Nelson, John Russell one of her favourite movies.
1957 The Girl in Black Stockings Harriet Ames Lex Barker, Anne Bancroft
1957 Jet Pilot WAF (uncredited) John Wayne, Janet Leigh (filmed from 1949–1953)
1958 Teacher's Pet Peggy DeFore Clark Gable, Doris Day, Gig Young Her part was larger when filmed but was cut before release.
1958 High School Confidential Gwen Dulaine Russ Tamblyn, Jan Sterling, John Drew Barrymore
1958 Born Reckless Jackie Adams Jeff Richards
1959 Guns, Girls, and Gangsters Vi Victor Gerard Mohr, Lee Van Cleef, Grant Richards
1959 The Beat Generation Georgia Altera Steve Cochran, Ray Danton star Steve Cochran had an affair with her.
1959 The Beautiful Legs of Sabrina Sabrina Antonio Cifariello, Rossana Marini
1959 The Big Operator Mary Gibson Mickey Rooney, Steve Cochran, Ray Danton
1959 Girls Town Silver Morgan Mel Torme considered to be her signature film
1960 Vice Raid Carole Hudson Richard Coogan
1960 College Confidential Sally Blake Steve Allen, Jayne Meadows
1960 Sex Kittens Go to College Dr. Mathilda West Tuesday Weld, Mijanou Bardot
1960 The Private Lives of Adam and Eve Evie Simms/Eve Mickey Rooney
1961 The Blonde from Buenos Aires Unknown Jean-Pierre Aumont
1964 The Candidate Samantha Ashley June Wilkinson, Ted Knight
1964 The Sheriff Was a Lady Olivia Freddy Quinn Alternative title: In the Wild West
1964 3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt Saxie Symbol Tommy Noonan, Ziva Rodann co-star Tommy Noonan aslo directed the film
1966 The Las Vegas Hillbillys Boots Malone Jayne Mansfield, Ferlin Husky starred opposite Jayne Mansfield. This was the only time the two blonde bombshell's appeared together in a film.
1966 The Navy vs. the Night Monsters Nora Hall Anthony Eisley, Billy Gray
1967 You've Got to Be Smart Miss Hathaway Tom Stern, Roger Perry, Gloria Castillo
1967 Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women Moana Mary Marr, Paige Lee
1971 The Arizona Kid Girlfriend Chiquito, Gordon Mitchell
1975 That Girl from Boston
George 'Buck' Flower
1986 Free Ride Debbie Stockwell Gary Hershberger, Reed Rudy, Dawn Schneider
1999 The Vegas Connection Rita Ashley F. Brooks, Robert Carradine
2002 Slackers Mrs. Van Graaf Devon Sawa, Jaime King cameo role


Year Album Notes
2011 "Still a Troublemaker"


  1. Loulou is a darling!

    Thank you, Loulou - a few facts I did not know about Ms. Van Doren

    - Glenn

  2. Thank you Alan great to hear you love this page,thank you!

  3. Thank you Glenn that is sweet of you,big hug Loulou!