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Mamie Van Doren

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Mamie94

Mamie Van Doren appearing as part of Turkey Day '94

Mamie Van Doren is an American actress and sex symbol. She was born in Rowena, South Dakota, the daughter of Warner Carl Olander and Lucille Harriet Bennett.

In 1939, the family moved to Sioux City, Iowa. In May 1942, they moved to Los Angeles, California.

Riffed Movies

Biography

Vandoren2

Birth name Joan Lucille Olander
DOB 6 February 1931 (some sources 1933)
Spouses
Thomas Dixon (1979 - present)
Ross McClintock (1972 - 1973)
Lee Meyers (1966 - 1967)
Ray Anthony (29 August 1955 - 1961)
Jack Newman (1950 - 1950)

Early life in Los Angeles

In early 1946, Joan went to work as an usherette at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. The following year, she had a bit part on an early television show. She also sang with Ted Fiorito's band and entered beauty contests. In the summer of 1949, at age sixteen, she won the titles "Miss Eight Ball" and "Miss Palm Springs."

While doing the Miss Palm Springs contest, she was discovered by Howard Hughes. She lunched with him and he gave her a bit part in Jet Pilot at RKO, which was her motion picture debut. Her line of dialogue consisted of one word, "Look!" Though production of the movie was in 1949 and 1950, it was not released until 1957. The following year, she posed for famous pin-up girl artist Alberto Vargas, the painter of the glamorous "Varga Girls." His painting of Van Doren was on the July cover of Esquire.

She did a few more bit parts in movies at RKO, including His Kind of Woman (1951) starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, and Vincent Price. She 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.

Contract with Universal

While appearing in the role of Marie in a showcase production of Come Back, Little Sheba, she was seen by Phil Benjamin, a casting director at Universal International. On January 20, 1953, she signed a contract with Universal. The studio had big plans for her, hoping she would bring the success that 20th Century Fox had with Marilyn Monroe, the reigning sex symbol of the era. It has been said that, because the day she was signed was also the day President Eisenhower was inaugurated, the studio decided to give her the name "Mamie" and "Van Doren" because it "sounded Dutch."

Her first movie for Universal was Forbidden (1953), playing a singer. She then made The All American (1953). In Yankee Pasha (1954), starring Tony Curtis and Rhonda Fleming, she played a slave girl, Lilith. Van Doren starred as the "bad girl" archetype in several teenage cult movies of the 1950s. She also appeared in some of the first movies to feature rock & roll. She became identified with this rebellious style and made some rock records.

While she did not attain the same level of superstar status as Monroe, Van Doren did become one of the leading sex symbols of the day. Marilyn, Mamie and Jayne Mansfield were known as the "Three M's," and Van Doren achieved legendary status as being the sole survivor. But while Monroe did 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.

Some of her more noteworthy movies included Teacher's Pet (1958) for Paramount, Born Reckless (1958) for Warner Bros., and High School Confidential! (1958) for MGM. But many of the productions she starred in were low-budget B-movies.

Later Career

In 1959, Universal chose not to exercise the option 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 The Blonde from Buenos Aires (1961), The Candidate (1964), The Navy vs the Night Monsters (1966), and Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968), which was directed by Peter Bogdanovich, who used another name, fearing the movie would ruin his reputation.

She also developed a nightclub act and did a lot of theater work. Her appearances on TV included The Jack Benny Show, Fantasy Island, and L.A. Law. She had a nightclub act in Las Vegas in the 1970s. In 1987, she wrote her autobiography (with Art Aveilhe) entitled Playing the Field: My Story.

Mamie Van Doren has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Filmography

  • Jet Pilot (Released 1957)
  • His Kind of Woman (1951) (uncredited)
  • Two Tickets to Broadway (1951) (credited as Joan Olander)
  • Footlight Varieties (1951) (credited as Joan Olander)
  • Forbidden (1953) (uncredited)
  • The All American (1953)
  • Hawaiian Nights (1954)
  • Yankee Pasha (1954)
  • Francis Joins the WACS (1954)
  • Ain't Misbehavin (1955)
  • The Second Greatest Sex (1955)
  • Running Wild (1955)
  • Star in the Dust (1956)
  • The Girl in Black Stockings (1957)
  • Untamed Youth (1957)
  • Teacher's Pet (1958)
  • Born Reckless (1958)
  • Le Bellissime gambe di Sabrina (1958) aka The Beautiful Legs of Sabrina
  • High School Confidential! (1958)
  • Guns, Girls, and Gangsters (1959)
  • The Beat Generation (1959) aka This Rebel Age
  • The Big Operator (1959)
  • Girls Town (1959)
  • Vice Raid (1959)
  • The Big Operator (1959)
  • Sex Kittens Go to College (1960)
  • The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (1961)
  • College Confidential (1960)
  • The Blonde from Buenos Aires (1961)
  • Three Nuts In Search of a Bolt (1964)
  • Freddy und das Lied der Prärie (1964) aka The Wild, Wild West
  • The Candidate (1964)
  • The Navy vs the Night Monsters (1966)
  • Las Vegas Hillbillys (spelling confirmed) (1966)
  • You've Got to be Smart (1967)
  • Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968)
  • I Fratelli di Arizona (1971) aka The Arizona Kid
  • That Girl from Boston (1975)
  • Free Ride (1986)
  • The Vegas Connection (1999)
  • Slackers (2002)

Quotes

  • "My best asset is my brain. Without my brain, I don't think the rest of me would be too hot."
  • "I came to Hollywood determined to follow in Jean Harlow's footsteps, but I was determined not to die young. My hope was to endure. And endure I have."
  • "There is a history of calamitous and violent deaths among the glamorous girls that boggles the mind and chills the blood, especially if you're one of the few survivors... As young women we were told that we were infinitely desirable and beautiful, only to discover that there was always someone coming up behind who was more desirable and beautiful. Our profession is perhaps the most competitive in the world. For, to be glamorous, to be beautiful, is to be doomed eventually to be disappointed." [1]

Trivia

  • Mamie's film Untamed Youth was originally condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency, but it only served to enhance the curiosity factor and resulting popularity.
  • Mamie appeared in pictorials for Playboy magazine twice in 1964, but was never officially a Playmate.
  • Issued three quickie paperback biographies to juice up her fading popularity: My Naughty, Naughty Life (1961); I Swing (1965), and My Wild Love Experiences (1965).[2]
  • Mamie appeared in a host segment of Turkey Day '94, following the broadcast of Girls Town. She introduced Gamera Vs. Zigra alongside Adam West.

Sources

  1. [1]
  2. [2]

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