One of Hollywood’s sexiest and most enduring icons, Mamie Van Doren, turns 90 today, and god bless her, she is still turning heads and turning lewks.
Movie star, author, recording artist, business woman, animal rights activist, and humanitarian, Mamie has lived a life few can imagine.
“I came to Hollywood determined to follow in Jean Harlow‘s footsteps, but I was determined not to die young. My hope was to endure. And endure I have.”
She’s the star of camp classics like Born Reckless (1958), High School Confidential (1958), Beautiful Legs Of Sabrina (1959), Sex Kittens Go To College(1960), Vice Raid (1960) and 3 Nuts In Search Of A Bolt (1964). In the prison movie Girls Town(1959), she provoked the censors with a steamy shower scene, and in The Private Lives Of Adam And Eve (1960), she shocked audiences by wearing just a few well-placed fig leaves.
As our own Stephen Rutledge wrote about her last year:
She was born in South Dakota as Joan Lucille Olinder. Her family moved to Los Angeles when Van Doren was 11-years-old. She was named Miss Palm Springs 1949, which brought her to the attention of Howard Hughes, who, at the time, was in the film business. They enjoyed an affair that lasted for the next half decade, even when she was married to Jack Newman, the owner of a men’s clothing company. That marriage was over after he tried to throw her from a hotel balcony while on their honeymoon.
Around the same time, Van Doren was working at the El Rancho Hotel And Casino in Las Vegas where she dated a gangster in Al Capone’s mob. She was also briefly engaged to champion boxer Jack Dempsey in 1951, but according to Van Doren, he was a “lousy lover”, something that she took rather seriously.
Van Doren had a string of affairs in the 1950s, including Dragnet’s Jack Webb, Denmark’s Prince Alex, abusive millionaire drunk Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, Jr. (Elizabeth Taylor’s ex), before she became engaged to big band leader Ray Anthony. Around the same time, Confidential Magazine threatened to run a story claiming that Van Doren and her mother had a side business as call girls, but her lawyer had the story stopped.
She had a son with Anthony, before they split up. After that, Van Doren had a fling with Elvis Presley in 1957. The next year she had her best screen role yet with the Clark Gable/ Doris Day comedy Teacher’s Pet. During filming Van Doren enjoyed the special company of the aging Gable, before moving on to actors George Hamilton, Yves Montand and bisexual Laurence Harvey. She even dropped LSD with Cary Grant!
n 1960, she hooked-up with Tony Curtis while he was filming Spartacus on a neighboring sound-stage. She then bedded Johnny Carson, Eddie Fisher, and producer Robert Evans, and still found time to divorce her husband. In 1963, she became engaged to baseball player Bo Belinski, but the wedding was eventually called off after she agreed to pose for Playboy Magazine, which somehow bothered him.
Those swingin’ 1960s showed Van Doren more fun with men, including a longish affair with Rock N’ Roll singer Johnny Rivers and actor Steve McQueen. She made headlines in 1965 as the latest plaything of NY Jets quarterback Joe Namath, and then briefly, with singer Tom Jones. In 1966, she shocked fans by suddenly marrying California Angels pitcher Lee Meyers, who was 19-years-old and she was 35. The couple divorced the next year.
During the Vietnam War, Van Doren entertained the troops, doing tours with Bob Hope in 1968 and 1970. She worked hard and gave a great deal of her time visiting injured soldiers at hospitals.
Van Doren is a real survivor. She represents the stereotype of Blonde Hollywood Bimbo, while tossing away that cliché by being in charge of her own life, loves and career. She likes men, and she had her pick of boyfriends, and five times she married them.
Unlike most of her contemporaries, she is forthright in talking and writing about her sex life. I admire that.
She has always been outspoken about Women’s Rights and Equal Rights for Gay people. For her 85th birthday, she posted a nude photograph taken by her husband. She gives good Tweets and has an active page on Facebook.
“I have never been a Marilyn Monroe wannabe. I have always been happy in my own skin!”
Happy birthday, you sexy, sexy goddess!
Below: Mamie on New Years Day 2020 at the age of almost 89 and no photoshopping or retouching.