Mamie Van Doren

Mamie Van Doren (born Joan Lucille Olander; February 6, 1931)[1] is an American actress, model, singer, and sex symbol.[2][3] She is perhaps best remembered for the rock 'n' roll, juvenile delinquency exploitation movie Untamed Youth (1957), and other films of this calibre.

Mamie Van Doren
Van Doren in 1960
Joan Lucille Olander

(1931-02-06) February 6, 1931[1]
OccupationActress, model, singer, nightclub performer
Years active1951–present
Jack Newman
(m. 1949; div. 1949)

Ray Anthony
(m. 1955; div. 1961)

Leroy "Lee" Raymond Meyers
(m. 1966; div. 1967)

Ross Augustus McClintock
(m. 1972; ann. 1973)

Thomas Gordon Dixon (m. 1979)

Early life

Van Doren was born on February 6, 1931, in Rowena, South Dakota, the daughter of Warner Carl Olander (1908 – 1992) and Lucille Harriet Bennett (1912 – 1995).[3][4] She is of three-quarters Swedish ancestry; the remainder is mixed English and German. In 1939, the family moved to Sioux City, Iowa and then to Los Angeles during May 1942.

In early 1946, Van Doren began working as an usher at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. The following year, she had a bit part on an early television series. She also sang with Ted Fio Rito's band and entered several beauty contests. Van Doren was married for a brief time at 17 when she and her first husband, Jack Newman, eloped to Santa Barbara. The marriage was dissolved quickly because of his abusive nature. In the summer of 1949, at age 18, she won the titles "Miss Eight Ball" and "Miss Palm Springs".[5] She was engaged to heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey, but broke off the engagement upon signing a contract with Universal Studios.

Producer Howard Hughes discovered Van Doren when she was crowned Miss Palm Springs. The pair dated for several years. Hughes launched her career by placing her in several RKO films.


Early years (1951–1952)

Hughes provided Van Doren with a bit part in Jet Pilot at RKO Radio Pictures, which was her film 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".

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 City 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. They had big plans for her, hoping she would bring the same kind of success that 20th Century Fox had with Marilyn Monroe. 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 generated by this scandal kept the 'Van Doren' name in the newspapers and tabloids.

Universal first cast Van Doren in a minor role as a singer in Forbidden, starring Tony Curtis. Interested in Van Doren's allure, Universal then cast her in The All American (1953), (also starring Tony Curtis), playing her first major role as Susie Ward, a wayward girl who is the man-trap at a campus beer joint. In Yankee Pasha (1954), starring Jeff Chandler and Rhonda Fleming, she played a slave girl, Lilith, in a supporting role. In 1955, she had a supporting role in the musical Ain't Misbehavin' and starred in the crime-drama Running Wild. Soon thereafter, Van Doren turned down a Broadway role in the play Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and was replaced by newcomer Jayne Mansfield.

In 1956, Van Doren appeared opposite a young and unknown (at the time) Clint Eastwood in the Western Star in the Dust. Though Van Doren garnered prominent billing alongside John Agar and Richard Boone, she appears rather briefly, as the daughter of a ranch owner. By this time, Van Doren had grown tired of Universal, which was only casting her in non-breakthrough roles. Therefore, Van Doren began accepting bigger and better roles in better movies from other studios.

Van Doren went to star in several bad girl movies that later became cult films. She also appeared in some of the first movies to feature rock 'n' roll music and became identified with this rebellious style, and she made some rock records. One of her rock 'n' roll films, Untamed Youth, was later featured in the 1990 Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Untamed Youth".

Some of Van Doren's more noteworthy movies include Teacher's Pet (1958) at Paramount Pictures, Born Reckless (1958) at Warner Brothers, High School Confidential (1958), and The Beat Generation (1959), the latter two at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. 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 onscreen wardrobe usually consisted of tight sweaters, low-cut blouses, form-fitting dresses, and daring (for the era) swimsuits, but she and such other blonde bombshell contemporaries as Jayne Mansfield, Cleo Moore, Sheree North, Anita Ekberg, Barbara Lang, Joi Lansing, Greta Thyssen, and Barbara Nichols did not attain the same level of superstar status as Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn, Mamie, and Mansfield were known as "The Three M's". But by comparison, where Monroe succeeded in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Mansfield had big success replacing Van Doren in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, Universal stuck Van Doren with Francis the Talking Mule in Francis Joins the WACS (1954).


After Universal Studios chose not to renew her contract in 1959, Van Doren was then a free agent and had to struggle to find work. Some of her later movies were foreign and independent productions, which would do little to keep her image in the public's eye. Many of the productions were low-budget B movies with some having gained a cult following for their high camp value.[6][7]

The first of these later films was Sex Kittens Go to College (1960), which co-starred Tuesday Weld. Following the completion of the Argentine film The Blonde from Buenos Aires (1961), Van Doren took time off from her career.[8] She came back to the screen in The Candidate (1964), which was soon followed by Freddy in the Wild West, both of which were low-budget films that left little impact. In 1964, Tommy Noonan convinced Van Doren to appear in 3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt. Van Doren had turned down Noonan's previous offer to star opposite Jayne Mansfield in Promises! Promises!, and was replaced with Marie McDonald. In 3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt, Mamie did a beer-bath scene but is not seen nude. She posed for Playboy to promote the film.

Van Doren next appeared in The Las Vegas Hillbillys (1966) released by Woolner Brothers.[7] This film co-starred Mansfield; this was the only time two of "The Three M's" appeared together in a film. A sequel was titled Hillbillys in a Haunted House, but Van Doren turned this role down, and was replaced by Joi Lansing. She then appeared in The Navy vs. the Night Monsters (1966), a science fiction film.[6] In 1967, she appeared in You've Got to Be Smart, and starred in another sci-fi film, Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968), the following year, directed by Peter Bogdanovich. This film featured a completely unknown cast other than Van Doren. In 1968, she was offered the role of a murder victim in the independent horror film The Ice House as a replacement for Mansfield, who died the previous year. However, she turned the offer down and was replaced by Sabrina.

Van Doren also developed a nightclub act and did live theater. She performed in stage productions of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Dames at Sea at the Drury Lane Theater, Chicago, and appeared in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and The Tender Trap at the Arlington Park Theater. In the 1970s, Van Doren performed a nightclub act in Las Vegas as well.

In 1970, Van Doren had a supporting role in The Arizona Kid. Since then, Van Doren has appeared only in cameo appearances in low-budgeted films. To this date, Van Doren's last film appearance was a role in the direct-to-video drama The American Tetralogy (2013).[9]

Van Doren's guest appearances on television include Jukebox Jury, What's My Line, The Bob Cummings Show, The Jack Benny Show, Fantasy Island, Burke's Law, Vega$ and L.A. Law.

Van Doren released her autobiography, Playing the Field (1987), which brought much new attention 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.[10] 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.

Personal life

Van Doren has been married five times. In 1949, she married sportswear manufacturer Jack Newman; she divorced him later that same year.[11] Her second marriage was to bandleader, composer and actor Ray Anthony whom she married in 1955. They had one son, Perry Ray Anthony, born March 18, 1956.[12] The couple divorced in 1961. When Van Doren's early 1960s, highly publicized, on-again off-again engagement to baseball player Bo Belinsky ended in 1964, she married baseball player Lee Meyers in 1966. They divorced in 1968.[13] Her fourth marriage was to businessman Ross McClintock in 1972. They met while working on President Nixon's re-election campaign; the marriage was annulled in 1973.[14] Since 1979, she has been married to Thomas Dixon, an actor and dentist.[12]

In her autobiography, Van Doren acknowledged that she had numerous affairs with celebrities. These included Clark Gable, Howard Hughes, Johnny Carson, Elvis Presley, Burt Reynolds, Jack Dempsey, Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, Johnny Rivers, Robert Evans, Eddie Fisher, Warren Beatty, Tony Curtis, Steve Cochran and Joe Namath.[15] 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 was never a Playboy Playmate, but she posed twice for the magazine in 1963 to promote her movie 3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt (1964). By this point in her career, her figure measured 38DD-26-36 (self-described in 1997). She said about her chest measurement, "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.[16] During the Vietnam War, she did tours for U.S. troops in Vietnam for three months in 1968, and again in 1970.[12] In addition to USO shows, she visited hospitals, including the wards of amputees and burn victims.

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. In recent years, Van Doren has made use of multimedia including Facebook and Twitter. She and her husband Thomas maintain her website where various merchandise along with home-made short films starring herself, such as A Girl and Her Banana, are available. It also provides contemporary topless and nude photos and her outspoken political views.[2] She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7057 Hollywood Boulevard. In 2005, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to her.[17]

Film appearances

Year Film title Role Studio Notes
1951 Footlight Varieties Blonde in theater RKO Radio Pictures Uncredited
His Kind of Woman Lodge guest at bar
Two Tickets to Broadway Showgirl
1953 Forbidden Singer Universal Pictures Uncredited
The All American Susie Ward First major film role
1954 Hawaiian Nights Glamour girl Uncredited
Short film
Yankee Pasha Lilith, Harem slave
Francis Joins the WACS Cpl. Bunky Hilstrom
1955 Ain't Misbehavin' Jackie
The Second Greatest Sex Birdie Snyder
Running Wild Irma Bean
1956 Star in the Dust Ellen Ballard Last film under contract with Universal. Van Doren stopped accepting roles from the studio, because they were not giving her the breakthrough roles she so desperately craved.
1957 Untamed Youth Penny Lowe Warner Brothers In this film, Van Doren became the first actress to sing rock 'n roll in an American musical film.
The Girl in Black Stockings Harriet Ames United Artists Van Doren's final film to be lined-up for her by Universal in 1956.
a.k.a.: Wanton Murder and Wanton Murder Mystery
Jet Pilot WAF RKO Radio Pictures Uncredited.
Filmed between 1949 and 1953, delays by director, but not released until 1957.
1958 Teacher's Pet Peggy DeFore Paramount Pictures Van Doren's role was originally bigger, but was edited down to be smaller because of the outfits she was required to wear in the film.
High School Confidential Gwen Dulaine Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Born Reckless Jackie Adams Warner Brothers
1959 Guns, Girls, and Gangsters Vi Victor United Artists
The Beat Generation Georgia Altera Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
The Beautiful Legs of Sabrina Sabrina Her first non-Hollywood motion picture release
The Big Operator Mary Gibson Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Girls Town Silver Morgan The first film to feature Van Doren nude. She appears nude through a fuzzy shower door.
1960 Vice Raid Carol Hudson United Artists
College Confidential Sally Blake Universal Pictures
Sex Kittens Go to College Dr. Mathilda West Allied Artists
The Private Lives of Adam and Eve Evie Simms/Eve Universal Pictures In this film, Van Doren wore only leaves for dream sequences.
1961 The Blonde from Buenos Aires
1964 The Candidate Samantha Ashley
Freddy in the Wild West Olivia - a.k.a.: The Sheriff Was a Lady (alternative title)
3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt Saxie Symbol Harlequin International Pictures Filmed as a sequel/spinoff of Promises! Promises!, a film that Van Doren had turned down.
1966 The Las Vegas Hillbillys Boots Malone Woolner Brothers Co-starred rival-blonde Jayne Mansfield. This is the only time that any of the "Three M's" appeared together in a motion picture.
The Navy vs. the Night Monsters Nora Hall Realart Pictures Inc. The first of two science fiction films that Van Doren made.
1967 You've Got to Be Smart Miss Hathaway
1968 Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women Moana American-International Television The last science-fiction film of Van Doren's career.
1970 The Arizona Kid Girlfriend
1975 That Girl from Boston
1986 Free Ride Debbie Stockwell Galaxy International Releasing
1999 The Vegas Connection Rita
2002 Slackers Miss Van Graaf Screen Gems



1957Untamed YouthEPPrep Records
1976Mamie - As In Mamie Van DorenLPChurchill Records
1986The Girl Who Invented Rock 'n' RollLPRhino Records
1997The Girl Who Invented Rock 'n' RollCDMarginal Records
2011Still a TroublemakerCD/iTunesFerguson Records
2017Ooh Ba La Baby: Her Exciting Rock N' Roll Recordings (1956-1959)CDHoodoo Records


1957Salamander/Go, Go, Calypso!45 rpmPrep Records
Something To Dream About/I Fell In Love45 rpmCapitol Records
1958Nobody But You/A Lifetime Of Love45 rpmDot Records
Don't Fool Around, Sabrina (Be Mine, Be Mine, Be Mine)/Fashion for Ladies45 rpmRCA Records (Italy)
1959The Beat Generation/I'm Grateful45 rpmDot Records
1964Bikini With No Top On The Top (with June Wilkinson)/So What Else Is New45 rpmJubilee Records
1967Cabaret/The Boy Catcher's Theme45 rpmAudio Fidelity
1984State Of Turmoil12" SingleCorner Stone Records
1986Young Dudes12" SingleRhino Records


  1. 1940 United States Census, United States Census, 1940; Sioux City, Iowa; page 480, line 13, enumeration district 97-61B. Retrieved on February 13, 2014.
  2. King, Susan (January 1, 2011). "Mamie Van Doren is all dressed up". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  3. Thomas, Bob (January 22, 1954). "Mamie Van Doren Wants To Quit Shadowing Monroe". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press.
  4. "Baby Has 10 Grandparents, Six of Whom Are 'Greats'". Argus Leader. Sioux Falls. April 8, 1931. p. 15. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  5. "More Than 4000 Amvets To Convene Here in 3-Day Convention Starting Today". The Desert Sun. Palm Springs. May 6, 1949. p. 1. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  6. King, Dennis (May 25, 2010). "Tree monsters attack in a sci-fi film recently released on DVD". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  7. Schwed, Mark (June 6, 1986). "'Canned Film Festival' due". The Bulletin. Bend, Oregon. United Press International. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  8. Wilson, Earl (August 7, 1962). "Kitty Lost Voice, Found Religion". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  9. Lowe, Barry; Mamie Van Doren (2008). Atomic blonde: the films of Mamie Van Doren. McFarland. p. 190.
  10. Playing the Field: My Story, ISBN 978-0-399-13240-7, New York: G. P. Putnam, 1987
  11. "'Miss Palm Springs' Receives Divorce". The San Bernardino County Sun. May 7, 1949. p. 11. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  12. Thomas, Bob (December 2, 1997). "Sex goddess lives to tell her story". TimesDaily. Florence, Alabama. Associated Press. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  13. Phillips, Darell (June 23, 1966). "Time Out". The Modesto Bee. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  14. "People in the News". Times-News. Hendersonville, North Carolina. Associated Press. December 5, 1972. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  15. "Mamie Van Doren Bares All". Star-News. August 5, 1987. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  16. "Klean Kut Kids". The Portsmouth Times. UPI Telephoto. August 27, 1964. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  17. Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated Archived 2012-10-13 at the Wayback Machine
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