Mamie Van Doren
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Mamie Van Doren
|Born:||February 6, 1933|
Rowena, South Dakota, USA
|Years active:||1951-1979, 1986-1987, 1999, 2002|
|Height:||5 ft 4 in (1.63 m)|
She was born Joan Lucille Olander in Rowena, South Dakota. 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. In the summer of 1949, at age 18, she won the titles "Miss Eight Ball" and "Miss Palm Springs".
While appearing in the Miss Palm Springs contest, she was discovered by Howard Hughes.
She lunched with Hughes, who 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, 1951, 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 was briefly married at seventeen, when she and first husband, Jack Newman, eloped to Santa Barbara. The marriage dissolved quickly, upon discovery of his abusive nature.
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. About her appearance in that one, Van Doren has said, "If you blinked you would miss me. I look barely old enough to drive."
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. 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 for Ike's wife, Mamie Eisenhower, and Van Doren as a good-natured dig at fellow blonde and buxom starlet Jayne Mansfield, who claimed to possess the genius-caliber IQ of 165.
The Van Dorens were a noted family of American intellectuals, including two Pulitzer Prize winning brothers, Carl (biographer) and Mark (poet), and Mark's wife Dorothy, an academic and historian. In 1957, Mark and Dorothy's son Charles Van Doren made front page news both by winning $129,000 on a television game show, then admitting the program was rigged. The scandal briefly reinforced Mamie's intellectual credentials and kept her name before the public.
Her first movie for Universal was Forbidden (1953), playing a singer. She then made All-American (1953), playing Susie Ward, a girl from the other side of the tracks who is the man-trap at a campus beer joint. In Yankee Pasha (1954) starring Tony Curtis and Rhonda Fleming, she played a slave girl, Lilith.
Van Doren starred in several bad girl movies that have gone on to become cult films. These include Sex Kittens Go to College (1960), College Confidential (1960), Vice Raid (1960), Girls Town (1959), The Big Operator (1959), Guns, Girls, and Gangsters (1959), The Girl in Black Stockings (1957), and Untamed Youth (1957). She also appeared in some of the first movies to feature rock and roll music and became identified with this rebellious style, and made some rock records.
While she and such other blonde bombshell contemporaries as Cleo Moore, Sheree North and Diana Dors did not attain the same level of superstar status as 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," and Van Doren achieved legendary status as being the sole survivor (although she was referred to as "the poor man's Mansfield").
But while Monroe did Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Mansfield had a big success with Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter|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.
Marriages, child and affairs
Van Doren has had five husbands, sportswear manufacturer Jack Newman (married 1950-divorced 1950), bandleader, composer and actor Ray Anthony (married 1955-divorced 1961), baseball player Lee Meyers (married 1966-divorced 1967), businessman Ross McClintock (married 1972-divorced 1973) and actor Thomas Dixon (married 1979-present).
She and Anthony had one son, Perry Ray Anthony (born March 18, 1956).
Her on-again off-again engagement to baseball player Bo Belinsky broke off for good in 1964. In her tell-all autobiography, she acknowledged numerous affairs, 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.
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 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. Besides the casting decisions at Universal, a problem was her poor management in selecting a suitable project.
In 1959, Universal chose not to exercise the option in 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.
In 1964, Van Doren was 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 a drunk George Harrison accidentally threw his drink on her when he was really trying to throw it on some bothersome journalists.
Van Doren also developed a nightclub act and did a lot of 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 stayed away from.
Her guest appearances on TV include The Bob Cummings Show, The Jack Benny Show, Fantasy Island, Burke's Law, Vega$, and L.A. Law.
In the 1970s, she did a nightclub act in Las Vegas.
Van Doren's autobiography, Playing the Field: My Story (New York: G.P. Putnam, 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.
At age 60, she underwent cosmetic surgery. In interviews, she has consistently denied ever having breast implants. But according to Celebrity Sleuth magazine, Van Doren stated her measurements as 38-26-36. "I don't even want to say double-D, because they're even bigger than that." In 2006, Mamie posed for photographs for Vanity Fair with Pamela Anderson as part of their annual Hollywood issue.
Van Doren has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7057 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California|Hollywood.
At 75 (in 2006) Mamie and her husband, Thomas, maintain her web site mamievandoren.com where her contemporary topless and nude photos and outspoken political views have created a larger fan base than ever in her remarkable career -- the longest, in fact, of any Hollywood sex symbol in history, with the possible exception of Mae West, Miss Van Doren's childhood idol.
- Footlight Varieties (1951) (uncredited)
- His Kind of Woman (1951) (uncredited)
- Two Tickets to Broadway (1951) (uncredited)
- Forbidden (1953) (uncredited)
- The All American (1953)
- Hawaiian Nights (1954) (short subject)
- 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)
- Untamed Youth (1957)
- The Girl in Black Stockings (1957)
- Jet Pilot (1957) (uncredited)
- Teacher's Pet (1958)
- High School Confidential (1958)
- Born Reckless (1958)
- Guns, Girls, and Gangsters (1959)
- The Beat Generation (1959)
- The Beautiful Legs of Sabrina (1959)
- The Big Operator (1959)
- Girls Town (1959)
- Vice Raid (1960)
- College Confidential (1960)
- Sex Kittens Go to College (1960)
- The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (1960)
- The Blonde from Buenos Aires (1961)
- The Candidate (1964)
- The Sheriff Was a Lady (1964)
- 3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt (1964)
- The Las Vegas Hillbillys (1966)
- The Navy vs. the Night Monsters (1966)
- You've Got to Be Smart (1967)
- Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968)
- The Arizona Kid (1971)
- That Girl from Boston (1975)
- Free Ride (1986)
- Hollywood Uncensored (1987) (documentary)
- The Vegas Connection (1999)
- Slackers (2002) (cameo)
Big tit movies / pictures of Mamie Van Doren
- Mr Skin Mamie Van Doren (celebrity movies and pictures)