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JOAN VAN ARK

"Jogging is therapy for me. It gives me time to think and it's a challenge," Joan Van Ark told the press. "If I'm not acting, I'm running. This way I always have something to look forward to and a challenge to meet. Interestingly, there's a correlation between acting and running. In both, you can't cop out. You can't blame others, you can't cheat. When you're on stage, it's just you and your audience. When running, it's you by yourself. And when you do a good job at either, you can say, 'I did it.' 

"I do 10 miles a day unless I'm shooting and have to get up at 4:30 or 5:00am. When I got married (in 1966) I started running." When husband Colonel John Marshall was in the air force in Germany, "It was the first time I wasn't working. I was a little nutsy, so I went out on the base football field and started doing laps. Pretty soon I got into a mile, then 3. That's when I really started running.

"When it's light enough in the evening I study my script as I run. People gawk at me like I've lost my mind. But running can be boring unless you occupy your mind." In Michigan for the play, 'A School for Wives', "We'd (actor Jimmy Greene) put away 12, 13, 14, 15 miles every morning before rehearsal. That's how I got into distance … It was a wonderful thing, and it was never just something I made myself do. Nowadays, with the schedule I've got, I have to make time for it and make myself do it. Running revitalizes me. Anything that bugs me, I run it out."

Joan Van Ark believed, "The hard way to diet is to rely on willpower. I discovered how to lose weight by searching for a diet with foods I enjoyed eating. I made the mistake of thinking that if a diet worked for someone else it would work for me, but on a friend's 3-day crash diet I was hungry all the time and all those eggs and tomatoes in the diet made me break out. 

"I asked myself what I really enjoyed eating and the answer was roasted peanuts. They're high in protein and in the shells they have no salt or butter. I settled on 12 ounces daily. With this, I had lots and lots of vitamins and minerals and a quart of fresh grapefruit juice. I felt fine and I lost 4 pounds in 3 days, and because I wasn't hungry I didn't go on a food binge when it was over. 

"I'm very fond of shrimp. I like to buy them raw and boil them with cloves and herbs. They're so delicious you don't need a dressing, but you can make a fresh tomato sauce – I found a recipe for one inside the container when I bought some seasoning in a healthy-food department. It cooks in minutes and has none of the preservatives found in canned foods. I also like shrimp salad with a dressing of diced celery and vinegar, yogurt and capers. 

"When you're active you feel better and your energy demands are higher so naturally you'll lose (weight) faster. Willpower doesn't work as well as enthusiasm." Grapes, Joan argued, "It's very good for you. It cleans out my system. I never eat but one thing at a time. The hard-boiled egg diet is my favorite. I've also been on the raw cashew nut diet.

"(Back in the 1970s) I call Friday 'Fat Friday' because that's when we – my husband and I – gorge. My extravagances are shrimp and crab meat. If I let myself, I’d run up an enormous shrimp bill. I'm not a vegetarian, but I live on grapes. That's the best thing a woman can eat. That's the big new food. And I also eat watermelon a lot for the same reasons (water). Basically, I exist on water foods."

Of the success of the TV series, 'Knots Landing', Joan reasoned, "The note we strike is far more realistic. 'Dynasty' and 'Dallas' are about them, and 'Knots Landing' is about us. Those shows have a similarity because of the glamor, the incredible wealth of characters, and their melodramatic, heightened situations. Our characters are down to earth.

"Our characters are real people who find themselves in situations the audience can relate to. Sure there are power struggles, especially between Abby and Sumner, but money isn't always the central theme like it is one of the other night time soaps. That distinguishes our show, and I think that differences is what has made 'Knots Landing' such a success."

After wrapping its successful 1983-84 season, Joan Van Ark told the press, "I just got through talking to the producers. On most soaps – and it doesn't matter if you play a major character – they won't tell you anything. But they were willing to tell me that my character would undergo the most changes next season (1984-85). They're not going to get specific. They want to give you just enough to keep you interested. Well, I do get married, but it's not to Ben."

Gary? "No, I don’t think so. They told me that Gary and Abby will get back together. I honestly don’t know who I’ll get married to but I don’t want to know those kinds of things too much ahead. The writers will surprise you, but that keeps your approach to the role fresh. (It turned out Verna Ellers, Val's alter ego as result of amnesia would get married). I was shocked that Val was pregnant with twins. When Ted (Shackelford) and I did the scene that led to my pregnancy, we both asked what this romantic interlude would lead to. They wouldn't say. 

"I adore the theater but if Shakespeare were alive, he'd be writing 'Dallas'. Granted the language isn't as rich and the thrill of theater is special, but the emotions are universal and the feedback can be just as exciting. Val is 180 degrees from anything I'd ever done. She was a very co-dependent person, very giving to a fault, very na├»ve, unsophisticated … She's become far more sophisticated, because of the things that have happened to her."

"I learned something so simple and delicious from one of the script girls," Joan Van Ark shared, "Pour chutney over cream cheese and serve with crackers. I used to make the thing I love. I served it once to Oliver Bailey, the playwright, and his wife, Betsy Forsythe Bailey, who's just written an incredible novel. They even asked for the recipe. It's French Bread Farci. You carve out Pepperidge Farm rolls and put in a garlic-mustard ground meat filling. Bake it and flavor it with herbs and garlic butter, and on top garnish with parsley. It makes a complete meal served with a mushroom-spinach salad."

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