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Rowena, South Dakota: Home of Hollywood Legend Mamie Van Doren

Via Alpha 11 YouTube
Via Alpha 11 YouTube

Head east out of Sioux Falls on Highway 42, and after just 5 miles or so you’ll pass through Rowena. A small unincorporated community in Minnehaha County, it might be considered ‘sleepy’ by some. And certainly not a place where one of the most legendary figures in Hollywood history began life.

But it is.

Joan Olander was born there back in the 1930’s. You may not know the name Joan Olander. But you (or maybe your parents or grandparents) will know the name…

Mamie Van Doren.

Mamie Van Doren and her family left Rowena when Mamie was 8 or so, moving to the big city of Sioux City, Iowa. And then a few years later to the, uh, big city, Los Angeles, California.

And that’s where the legend began.

From early 1950’s ‘pin-up’ girl to Hollywood movies, Mamie van Doren became a worldwide sensation. Appearing in movies with the biggest stars in the world, from Tony Curtis to Clint Eastwood, Mamie was ‘linked’ to even more legends. Not to be a name dropper (OK, I’ll drop some names), but Mamie spent time with people like Howard Hughes, Jack Dempsey, Clark Gable, Elvis Presley, Burt Reynolds, Joe Namath, Steve McQueen and many more. Those are just some of the names she acknowledges in her autobiography.

And if you happened to be a Playboy magazine reader in 1963, well, you got to see even more of Mamie.

She became even more famous as one of the ‘3 M’s’. The 3 M’s? Mamie, Marilyn and Mansfield.

Mamie is 86 now, and that spectacular life’s journey began in Rowena, South Dakota.

For a great video about Mamie’s life, check out the video below.

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