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Mamie Van Doren

Real name: Joan Lucille Olander
Birthdate: February 6, 1931
Status: Married
Partner: Thomas Dixon

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Biography

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. In the summer of 1949, at age 18, she won the titles "Miss Eight Ball" and "Miss Palm Springs".

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 "Varga Girls." His painting of Van Doren was on the July cover of Esquire.

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).

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 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 Sex Kittens Go to College (1960), The Blonde from Buenos Aires (1961), The Candidate (1964), 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.

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 he was really trying to throw it on some bothersome journalists.

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.

At age 60, she underwent cosmetic surgery. In interviews, she has consistently denied ever having breast implants. In 2006, Mamie posed for photographs for Vanity Fair with Pamela Anderson as part of their annual Hollywood issue.



 


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