Mamie Van Doren, along with Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, dominated the Hollywood landscape in the 1950s and 1960s as the “Three M’s”– THE blonde bombshells of the movies. But they both died young and Mamie lives on. I’ve been following her on Facebook for a while now and decided to reach out and see if she would grant me an interview, and she said yes, much to my delight. At 82, she’s showing no signs of slowing down or adopting any ‘age-appropriate’ granny look, either.
Mamie, I love your posts on Facebook… they run the gamut from politics to pop culture, Hollywood then and now, the environment… How has being on Facebook changed the way you interact with fans? What’s the best (and worst) thing about being on Facebook?
Facebook changed forever the way I interact with fans. It is immediate and often rewarding. I am blessed with the nicest fans in the world. The best thing about Facebook is the extraordinary people I am introduced to from all over the world. The worst thing about Facebook is that it is very addictive. I can spend hours there.
You look incredible, for ANY age. You’ve always been beautiful. How do you feel about this quote from Diana Vreeland. “You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female’.” Do you feel that you “owe” people a “pretty” Mamie? I do feel that I owe my fans a “pretty” Mamie – sometimes. However, I don’t necessarily owe anyone a pretty Joanie Olander (Mamie’s real name). When I’m kicking around the neighborhood walking the dogs or splashing in the surf at the beach, my only obligation is to myself and the true inner me.
What was your favorite role and, in your opinion, what was the best movie that you were ever in? I have a couple of favorite roles: Penny Lowe in Untamed Youth and Peggy DeFore in Teacher’s Pet. It didn’t hurt playing opposite Clark Gable. One of my favorite movies is Born Reckless, which I just saw for the first time on TMC’s retrospective of my movies. (continued)
(On the set of High School Confidential, 1959; publicity still; Mamie today on the beach and last year at a signing for her book, Playing the Field, photos: Thomas Dixon)
(Publicity still for Teacher’s Pet and with Clark Gable in that film; with Steve Cochran in The Rebel Age; Steve McQueen on the set of Bullit; stat comparison of Mamie and Marilyn; with Russ Tamblyn on the set of High School Confidential)
You’ve been married for nearly 35 years now. You’ve talked about love affairs before but who, besides your husband, is THE sexiest man you ever met? The sexiest men I ever met were Steve Cochran and Steve McQueen. They both possessed a kind of reckless energy that I found, er, arousing. They were also very difficult to get along with in their own ways, but one makes allowances for a good bonk.
It’s Fashion Week in New York. Who is your favorite designer, now and during he 50s and 60s? I love fashion! My faves from the 50s & 60s were Traina Norell and Chanel. I knew Coco and she thought I was an ideal candidate to wear her clothes. In the 60s I wore a lot of Galanos. I also loved early Jean-Paul Gaultier. When I was in Paris in promoting my book, Jean-Paul came over with a trunk full of clothes for my Paris Match photo shoot.
Everyone must ask you how you stay looking so incredible? Do you exercise and/or have a special diet? Any beauty, health or fitness tips you’d like to share? I eat a plant based diet about 90% of the time. Occasionally, I fall of the wagon and have a burger or meatloaf. I walk a couple of miles a day. When you have a house full of dogs, you do a lot of walking. I have loads of beauty, health, and fitness tips, but I will wait and share them with you in my next book. It will be out around the end of the year.
What is your life like now? Describe a typical day-in-the-life of Mamie Van Doren? Most days I get up early enough to have a quick protein shake and toast and go for a walk. I spend some time on Facebook catching up with friends. I work on the new book and chat with pals on the phone. In baseball season, I watch the Dodgers and Angels. In basketball season I watch the Lakers and Clippers.
What is your secret to leading a happy, fulfilled life? I don’t know what the secret to a happy life is. It’s kind of like Somerset Maugham says, ‘There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.’ Probably the closest you can get is from the Bhagavad Gita: ‘The secret is to act well without attachment to the outcome of your actions.’