Mamie Van Doren was born Joan Lucille Olander in Rowena, South Dakota, the daughter of Warner Carl Olander and Lucille Harriet Bennett. 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".
Joan was discovered by famed producer Howard Hughes on the night she was crowned Miss Palm Springs. The pair dated for several years. Hughes launched her career by placing her in several RKO films.
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 had been married for a brief time at seventeen, when she and first husband, Jack Newman, eloped to Santa Barbara. The marriage dissolved quickly, upon discovery of his abusive nature.
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 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. Her first movie for Universal was Forbidden
(1953), playing a singer. She then made All-American
(1953), playing Susie Ward, a wayward girl 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 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'
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 Van Doren was just as well known for her provocative roles. She was in prison for Girl's 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.
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
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. In 2006, Mamie posed for photographs for Vanity Fair with Pamela Anderson as part of their annual Hollywood issue.
In 2006—at age 75—Van Doren and her husband, Thomas, maintain her popular and controversial web site http://www.mamievandoren.com. Here she sells autographed "nipple prints" and homemade short films starring herself, such as 'A Girl and Her Banana'. Her contemporary topless and nude photos and outspoken political views have helped create a larger fan base than at any time in her remarkable career, arguably the longest career of any Hollywood sex symbol, with the possible exception of Mae West, Van Doren's childhood idol.
Van Doren has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7057 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.
From Wikepedia, the Free Encyclopedia and the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)