Joan Lucille Olander was born in South Dakota on February
6, 1931. Mesmerized by the distant glamour of the Hollywood,
Joan's farm family packed up and moved to Los Angeles in
Her first acting job was at the age of 13 in one of the
very early television shows as Little Joanie, the Flower
Girl. Age 13 founder her to be already shapely. At the age
of 15 she won several beauty contests and found herself
not only in the attention of the film studio RKO, but also
in the eyes of Howard Hughes, who was a connoisseur of the
Hughes got her some small parts, but nothing very notable,
and in 1950 she spent the summer working in Las Vegas as
a Showgirl. It was during this time period she posed for
a pin up session with Alberto Vargas.
Her portrait would grace the July 1951 publication of Esquire.
Still Joan at this time, she became involved in many high
profile relationships, which would be typical of her life,
two of which were Eddie Fisher and Jack Dempsey.
She returned to Los Angeles, and got her first real manager,
composer Jimmy McHugh. She gave a very sexy performance
in a L.A. production of Come back little Sheba, which
landed her a plum role in the film Forbidden, and
a seven year contract with Universal International. It was
upon UI's urging that she changed her name to Mamie Van
One of Mamie's trademarks in her "starlet" days
was that of a brassiere known as the bullet bra. She was
neither the first nor the last to wear one, however she
would come to be identified with it, even after 35 years.
While Mamie was constantly compared to Marilyn
Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, she was
in true form, very unique. She was not prone to playing
the Hollywood game, and was in many ways very ahead of her
time in terms of women's liberation, and the sexual revolution.
She was also identified very early on with rock & roll,
and this association would give her some of the greatest
1950's pop icon status.
UI dropped her in 1957 shortly after the birth of her first
son, as her role of wife and mother did not fit UI's screeen
image of her. She made the film Untamed Youth, recorded
some rock hits, which was a huge risk at that time as rock
& roll was often looked down upon with the preacher/redneck
DJ's arena. Film studios looked at this, which made them
She made her first "A" movie in 1958 starring
opposite of Clark Gable in Teacher's
Pet. From there she made a quite a few films, some
memorable, some not. But it was also at this time she began
to make some teen-exploitation flicks with Al Zugsmith.
The core of her films would give her the title "Queen
of the B's".
Mamie was very well known for her saucy quips and quotes,
and her penchant for young men. "Mamie likes 'em young"
was a perpetual tag of hers.
Mamie was very upset with the death of Marilyn Monroe,
sensing her days were numbered as a blonde bombshell, but
nothing was more shattering to her than the death of Jayne
Mansfield. The second seemingly cursed blonde of Mamie's
peers. Unlike her peers though, Mamie took very good care
of herself, she laid off the drinking and drugs, and did
little late-night carousing.
Mamie's performance of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
was held over in New York in 1967, standing in for her in
the run she couldn't make was Jayne Mansfield in Biloxi,
Mississippi. It was just after this run, that Jayne would
meet her untimely death.
After her Broadway performances, Mamie toured in Vietnam
in 1968-1970 entertaining troops stationed during the war.
Mamie Van Doren is still alive today, and looks fabulous.
At the age of 60 she decided to undergo some plastic surgery
(her first ever) to keep up her image of the blonde bombshell.
As Mamie put it, she is experiencing one thing that others
did not...old age. She has made guest appearances, performed
in nightclubs and even recorded an album in Germany in 1993.
Mamie Van Doren is certainly the last of the great blonde
bombshells, and long may she reign supreme.