In 2005, actress Alice
Krige (The Borg Queen from Star Trek First Contact) played Joan
Collins in Dynasty:
The Making of a Guilty
Pleasure, a fictionalised television film based on the creation and behind-the-scenes
production of Dynasty. Collins herself appeared in the original
Star Trek episode,
"The City on the
Edge of Forever."
Joan Henrietta Collins, DBE (born May 23rd 1933) is an English
actress, author and columnist. Born in Paddington, west London, and
brought up in Maida Vale, Collins grew up during the Second World
War, the daughter of Elsa Collins, a dance teacher and nightclub
hostess, and Joseph William Collins, an agent whose clients would
later include Shirley Bassey, the Beatles, and Tom Jones. Her father,
a native of South Africa, was Jewish, and her British mother was
Anglican. Collins has two younger siblings, Jackie (1937 -2015) and
Bill, a property agent. She was educated at the Francis Holland
School, an independent day school for girls in London and then
trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. At age 17 she
signed an exclusive contract with the Rank Organisation and appeared
in various British films.
Collins made her feature debut as a beauty
contest entrant in Lady Godiva Rides Again (1951) followed by The
Woman's Angle (1952) in a minor role as a Greek maid. Next was a more
significant role as a gangster's moll in Judgment Deferred (1952).
Her big break came with I Believe in You (1952). Other roles to
follow included Cosh Boy (1953), Decameron Nights (1953), Turn the
Key Softly (1953), The Square Ring (1953), and Our Girl Friday (1953).
When she was 22, Collins headed to
Hollywood and landed sultry roles in several popular films. She was
chosen by director Howard Hawks to star in his lavish production of
Land of the Pharaohs (1955) as the scheming Princess Nellifer
opposite Jack Hawkins. This role led to a contract at 20th Century
Fox which had Collins appear or star in such films as The Girl in the
Red Velvet Swing (1955), The Opposite Sex (1956), Sea Wife (1957),
The Wayward Bus (1957), Island in the Sun (1957), Stopover Tokyo
(1958), The Bravados (1958), and Rally Round the Flag, Boys (1959).
She finished her Fox contract with the crime caper Seven Thieves
(1960) and the biblical epic Esther and the King (1960). One notable
film release in the 1960s was The Road to Hong Kong (1962 above) the
last "road" picture of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.
She took a hiatus from her film career to
concentrate on having a family after marrying Anthony Newley, and
when she resumed her career, it was in the medium of television. Her
notable guest appearances on American television during the 1960s and
1970s included Batman (above), The Virginian, Mission: Impossible,
Police Woman, and Star Trek; in the role of Edith Keeler in the fan
favorite episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" (below).
In the 1970s, Collins made several films,
few of them notable, and then starred in the film versions of her
sister Jackie Collins's racy novels The Stud and The Bitch. The films
were extremely successful financially. The Stud, made for $600,000,
went on to gross over $20,000,000 internationally.
In 1981, Collins was offered a role in the
second season of the then-struggling new soap opera Dynasty playing
Alexis Carrington, the beautiful and vengeful ex-wife of tycoon Blake
Carrington (John Forsythe). Her performance is generally credited as
one factor in the fledgling show's subsequent rise in the Nielsen
ratings to a hit rivaling Dallas.
In 1985, Dynasty was the no. 1 show
in the United States, beating out Dallas, which ranked at no. 2.
For her portrayal of Alexis, Collins was nominated six times for a
Golden Globe Award (every year from 1982 to 1987), winning once in
1983, the same year she was nominated for an Emmy as Best Actress in
a Drama Series. Upon accepting the award, Collins thanked Sophia
Loren for turning down the part of Alexis. Collins also received a
star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1983 for career achievement.
In the 2001 E! True Hollywood Story
episode featuring Dynasty, former ABC executive Ted Harbert stated,
"The truth is we didn't really believe that we had this thing
done as a hit until Joan Collins walked down that courtroom
aisle." Co-star Al Corley noted that Collins "just
flew" in the role that was "tailor made... just spot
on." In Dynasty producer Aaron Spelling's final press interview,
he said of Collins: "We didn't write Joan Collins. She played
Joan Collins. Am I right? We wrote a character, but the character
could have been played by 50 people and 49 of them would have failed.
She made it work."
During the run of Dynasty, Collins starred
in Making of a Male Model (1983) with young model-actor Jon-Erik
Hexum, and in 1984 played a soap star in The Cartier Affair with
David Hasselhoff. In the same year, she co-hosted the ABC-TV special
Blondes vs. Brunettes. With Dynasty at the height of its success,
Collins began producing and starred in the 1986 CBS miniseries Sins
and Monte Carlo. But both of these last two were critical and ratings disappointments.
the end of Dynasty in 1989, Collins took time off. She rejoined her
co-stars for Dynasty: The Reunion, a 1991 miniseries that concluded
the series which had been left with a cliffhanger ending after its
abrupt cancellation. In the 1990s, Collins made several guest star
appearances on series such as Roseanne, Will & Grace and The
Nanny, where she played Maxwell Shefiled's step mother (Robert Vaughn
played Maxwell's father). She also appeared as the main characters of
films such as Decadence (1994) and Annie: A Royal Adventure! (1995).
She began appearing on stage, playing the
title role in the 1980 British revival of The Last of Mrs. Cheyney,
and later had a lead role of Amanda in the 1990 revival of Noel
Coward's Private Lives. In 1991 Collins she also appeared in TV
series, Noel Coward's Tonight at 8:30, and again in another
production of Private Lives in 1992.
In 1999, Collins was cast in the film
version of musical theatre show Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor
Dreamcoat. She played two roles in this film: a pianist and Mrs.
Potiphar, the wife of Egyptian millionaire Potiphar. In 2000, Collins
joined the cast of The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, a prequel to
the 1994 Universal Studios live-action film The Flintstones. She
reprised the supporting role of Pearl Slaghoople, Wilma Flintstone's
mother, that Elizabeth Taylor had originated. In 2001, she co-starred
in the television film These Old Broads with Debbie Reynolds, Shirley
MacLaine, and Taylor. The film was written for television by
Reynolds's daughter, Carrie Fisher.
At the age of 50, Collins appeared in a
12-page photo layout for Playboy magazine shot by George Hurrell.
On December 31st 1996, Collins was
appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for
services to drama, and in the 2015 New Year Honours promoted Dame
Commander of the same Order (DBE) for services to charity.
In 2002, Collins returned to soap operas
in a limited guest run on the American daytime soap Guiding Light.
In early 2006, Collins toured the United
Kingdom in An Evening With Joan Collins, a one-woman show in which
she detailed the highs and lows of her career and life, directed by
her by-then husband Percy Gibson. In 2006, she reunited with her
Dynasty co-stars for the nonfiction special Dynasty Reunion:
Catfights and Caviar. Later that year, she began a tour of North
America in the play Legends! with former Dynasty co-star Linda Evans,
which concluded in May 2007 after a 30-week run.
In 2005, Collins joined the cast of the
hit British television series Footballer's Wives for a limited run.
She also guest-starred in the BBC series Hotel Babylon in 2006 as a
lonely aristocrat desperate for romance. Collins appeared in
"They Do It with Mirrors," a two-hour episode of the
murder-mystery drama Marple in 2009, as Ruth Van Rydock, a friend of
detective Miss Jane Marple.
In January 2010, it was announced that
Collins was joining the German soap opera Verbotene Liebe (Forbidden
Love) for a short run. She played an aristocratic British woman, Lady
Joan, who takes a young prince, portrayed by German actor Stephan
Kaefer, in tow.
She made her pantomime debut in Dick
Whittington as Queen Rat at the Birmingham Hippodrome during the 2010
Christmas season, starring alongside Nigel Havers, Keith Harris, and
Julian Clary. In May 2013, Collins announced on her Twitter profile
that she would be joining the cast of British TV sitcom Benidorm in a
guest role. She lent her voice to the animated feature film Saving
Santa (2013) and starred in the fantasy Molly Moon (2015).
In August 2014, People reported that
Collins would guest star on the forthcoming E! drama series The
Royals (above) as the Grand Duchess of Oxford, the mother of
fictional British Queen Helena (Elizabeth Hurley).
In June 2015, Collins backed the
children's fairytales app GivingTales in aid of UNICEF, together with
Roger Moore, Ewan McGregor, Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley, Michael
Caine, David Walliams, Charlotte Rampling and Paul McKenna.
Collins has been married five times, first
to Northern Irish actor Maxwell Reed, whom she married on May 24th
1952 after he allegedly raped her, and divorced in 1956. She then
married Anthony Newley (below left) in 1963 and Ron Kass in 1972; she
had two children, Tara and Sacha, with Newley and her third, Katyana,
with Kass. Collins's marriage to Kass ended in divorce in 1983. On
November 3rd 1985, Collins married Swedish singer Peter Holm in a
ceremony in Las Vegas. They were divorced on August 25th 1987. At age
69 she married 37 year old Percy Gibson (below right) on February
17th 2002 at Claridge's Hotel in London.
Collins maintains residences in London,
Los Angeles, New York City, and France, describing her life as being
"that of a gypsy".
Collins' younger sister was Jackie
Collins, a pioneer of romantic novels, who died in September 2015.
Collins was told only two weeks before her sister's death of the
breast cancer she had had for over six years.
Collins contributes to The Spectator as a
guest diarist, something she has done since the late 1990s. Collins
also writes occasionally for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Daily
Telegraph, The Lady, and in the USA, Harper's Bazaar. In September
2008, Collins signed on to the Sunday Telegraph as a weekly opinions
columnist through the final quarter of the year before leaving to
pursue other projects. She noted that she was a huge supporter of the
late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and was one of the handful of
guests to be invited to Thatcher's funeral on April 17th 2013.
Collins is also a staunch monarchist, stating "I'm a big
monarchist and I love the Queen."
has publicly supported several charities for several decades. In
1982, Collins spoke before the U.S. Congress about increasing funding
for neurological research. In 1983, she was named a patron of the
International Foundation for Children with Learning Disabilities,
earning the foundation's highest honour in 1988 for her continuing
support. Additionally, 1988 also had the opening of the Joan Collins
Wing of the Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.
In 1990, she was made an honorary founding
member of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Children. In 1994, Collins was awarded the lifetime achievement award
from the Association of Breast Cancer Studies in Great Britain for
her contribution to breast cancer awareness in the UK. Collins is
patron of Fight for Sight; in 2003, she became a patron of the
Shooting Star Chase Children's Hospice in Great Britain while
continuing to support several foster children in India, something she
has done for the past 25 years.
Collins serves her former school, the
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, as the Honorary President of the RADA Associates.
Since the 1970's, Collins has established
herself as a successful author. In addition to her bestselling
novels, 'Prime Time', 'Love & Desire & Hate', 'Infamous' (aka
'Too Damn Famous'), 'Misfortune's Daughters', 'Star Quality' and 'The
St. Tropez Lonely Hearts Club', she has also written six lifestyle
books, 'The Joan Collins Beauty Book', 'Health, Youth &
Happiness: My Secrets', 'My Friends' Secrets', 'Joan's Way: Looking
Good, Feeling Great' (aka 'The Art of Living Well'), and 'The World
According to Joan', as well as memoirs, 'Past Imperfect', 'Katy: A
Fight for Life', 'Second Act' and 'Passion For Life'. She has sold
over 50 million copies of her books which have been translated into
In the 1990s, Collins was embroiled in a
high-profile legal battle with the publisher Random House, which was
televised daily on Court TV. Collins had signed a two-book deal with
the company for $4 million and they had given her a $1.2 million
advance. In September 1991, Collins delivered a 690-page manuscript
of a novel entitled The Ruling Passion to Random House. However, the
publishing firm deemed the manuscript to be of such poor quality that
they demanded the return of the $1.2 million advance they had paid to
Collins, claiming she had failed to deliver completed books as per
her contract. Collins countersued, arguing that her contract required
her only to submit a "complete manuscript" not an
"acceptable" one. Since she had turned in two novels to the
publishing company, A Ruling Passion in 1991 and a second novel, Hell
Hath No Fury, in 1992, as her contract stipulated, she felt Random
House owed her the rest of the $4 million. She contended that Random
House had not provided the editorial assistance she had expected.
Her Random House contract, negotiated by
agent Irving Lazar, required that she be paid even if her completed
manuscripts were not published. When the case was finally heard in
February 1996, a court determined that Collins could keep the advance
given to her plus a further $1 million for the first completed
manuscript, but that the publisher did not have to pay for the second
manuscript since it was essentially a reworking of the first. The
Guinness Book of World Records cites Collins as holding the record
for retaining the world's largest unreturned payment for an