Joan Collins (born 23 May 1933) is a Golden Globe Award-winning
English actress, author and columnist.
Joan was born in Paddington, London, the daughter of Elsa (née Bessant), a dance teacher and nightclub hostess, and Joseph William Collins, an agent whose clients would later include Shirley Bassey, The Beatles and Tom Jones. Collins's has a South African-born father and her British mother was Anglican. Joan Collins has one sister, the author Jackie Collins, and a brother, Bill Collins. Joan was educated at the Francis Holland School and then trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
Collins' childhood was spent in and around Maida Vale and was, according to Collins, an idyllic one with plenty of love, comfort and security. Her father, however, was also a strict disciplinarian and exerted a strong hold over her gentle mother, an attitude which came to irritate her daughters who sought to rebel against it. Joan has said of her father that "He was detached, cold, hard, critical, difficult, acerbic and everyone had to please him." He said himself in his 1986 autobiography, A Touch of Collins: "I love my daughters but I am not the kind of parent who deludes himself that his children are superior to everyone else's. I did not think of them as particularly outstanding in any way."
At the age of 17 Joan was signed to the J. Arthur Rank Film Company, a highly profitable British studio.
In 1951, Collins made her feature debut as a beauty contest entrant in Lady Godiva Rides Again and in 1952 she starred in the film I Believe in You based on the book Court Circular by Sewell Stokes. Collins was next signed by 20th Century Fox in 1954 as their answer to MGM's Elizabeth Taylor. According to a September 11, 1954 article in Picture Post, Joan was frustrated by her time at Rank. Joan told the popular Hulton Press Weekly, "They’re always carrying on about there being no women of star material in England. They don’t bother to build us up. They concentrate on building the men." She appeared in Island in the Sun (1957).
Joan was popular as a magazine pin-up in the UK throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s, with cover appearances on titles such as Span and 66.
Her notable guest appearances on American television during the 1960s included Batman, Mission: Impossible, Police Woman, and the Star Trek episode "The City on the Edge of Forever."
In the 1970s, Joan made several movies and then starred in the film versions of her sister Jackie Collins' racy novels The Stud and The Bitch. The films were smash hits in England, becoming the most profitable films since the James Bond series. Joan has worked with some of the biggest names and movie legends in Hollywood, including Richard Burton, Bing Crosby, Bette Davis, Kirk Douglas, Gene Kelly, Laurence Harvey, Bob Hope, James Mason, Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, Sir Laurence Olivier, Edward G. Robinson, Sir Ralph Richardson, Rod Steiger, James Stewart, Joanne Woodward, Jayne Mansfield, Sir John Gielgud and Sir Nigel Hawthorne.
In the 1981, Collins' was offered a role in the then-struggling new prime time soap opera Dynasty (1981-1989) playing Alexis, the vengeful ex-wife of tycoon Blake Carrington (John Forsythe). The role successfully relaunched Joan as a powerful sex symbol and icon of independence. 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 #1 show in the U.S., and Joan also went on to become the highest-paid actress on television at the time, and remained with the series until its 1989 cancellation. As Alexis, Joan was nominated six times for a Golden Globe Award (every year from 1982 to 1987), winning once in 1983. Delighting the audience in attendance at the ceremony, Joan thanked Sophia Loren for turning down the part of Alexis. She arguably became the most celebrated television star of the 1980s and her character, Alexis, perhaps the most infamous clotheshorse and villainess of the decade. Dynasty was shown in more than 80 countries and is still internationally syndicated. TV Guide selected Collins' portrayal of Alexis as the fourth greatest villain in television history.
In 1983, Joan starred in Making of a Male Model with young model-actor Jon-Erik Hexum, and in 1984 played a soap star in The Cartier Affair with David Hasselhoff. With Dynasty at the height of its success, Joan began producing and starred in two 1986 CBS miniseries, Sins and Monte Carlo. Joan Collins also appeared on the cover of and in a twelve-page layout shot by George Hurrell for Playboy magazine at the age of 49, and was often referred to as "the world's No.1 sex symbol" and "the most beautiful woman on Television."
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 Joan "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."
After the end of Dynasty in 1989, Joan took time off to be with her family. She rejoined her costars for Dynasty: The Reunion, a 1991 miniseries that concluded the series, left with a cliffhanger ending with its abrupt cancellation. In the 1990s Joan made several guest star appearances on series such as Roseanne, The Nanny and Will & Grace while dabbling in films like Decadence and A Midwinter's Tale. She also appeared as the main characters of films such as Mama's Back and Annie: A Royal Adventure! during this period. In 1994, She launched her first and the only exercise video, titled as Joan Collins Personal Workout at the age of 60.
In 1990, Joan played Amanda in a revival of Noël Coward's Private Lives in the West end. In 1991, Joan appeared in Noël Coward's Tonight at 8:30 and played eight different women in a series of one-act plays written by Noël Coward, including an elderly Victorian spinster. In 1992, Joan made her Broadway debut in an adaptation of Coward's Private Lives. She also guest starred in six episodes of Aaron Spelling's prime time soap opera Pacific Palisades in 1997. Joan was chosen as the cover model for the relaunch of the popular celebrity magazine OK! when it changed from being a monthly to a weekly. In the spring of 2000, she completed an American tour of Love Letters with the likes of George Hamilton and Stacey Keach. Additionally, she appeared in a West End production of Over the Moon with Frank Langella in 2000.
In 1999, Joan was cast in the video version of musical theatre show Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She played two roles in this video: a pianist and Mrs. Potiphar, the wife of Egyptian millionaire Potiphar.
In 2000, Joan joined the cast of hollywood film The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, prequel of the 1994 Universal Studios film The Flintstones. She played the supporting role Pearl Slaghoople.
In 2001 Joan starred in TV movie These Old Broads with Debbie Reynolds, Shirley MacLaine and Elizabeth Taylor.
In 2002 Joan appeared in a limited run on the American daytime soap opera Guiding Light. She also appeared on South African television, depicting the role of South African journalist Jani Allan in a comedic spoof. In 2004, she appeared on a Dutch comedy film Alice in Glamourland (Dutch: Ellis in Glamourland) as a successful writer. Several Months later, she toured the United Kingdom with a revival of the play Full Circle. In 2005 she served as guest host of the popular British quiz show Have I Got News For You.
In 2005 actress Alice Krige portrayed Joan in Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure, a fictionalized television movie based on the creation and behind the scenes production of Dynasty.
In early 2006, Joan toured the United Kingdom in A Evening With Joan Collins, a one-woman show in which she detailed the highs and lows of her roller coaster career and life, directed by her husband Percy Gibson. In late 2006 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, multi-city tour. Joan wrote about her experience on the road with the show in her column in the U.K. Daily Mail; the article was entitled, "Why I'll Never Work With Linda Evans Again."
Joan joined the cast of the hit British television series Footballer's Wives for a limited run as a glamorous magazine mogul, named Eva de Wolffe. She also guest-starred in the BBC series Hotel Babylon in 2006 as a lonely aristocrat desperate for romance.
Joan will appear in an hour-long episode ("They Do It with Mirrors") of the murder-mystery drama Marple in 2009. She'll play Ruth Van Rydock, an old friend of detective Miss Marple .
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Joan married Irish actor Maxwell Reed on 24 May 1952, and the couple divorced in 1956. She next dated Sydney Earle Chaplin, son of Charlie Chaplin, and later Arthur Loew, Jr. At 26, she embarked on a serious affair with an as-then-unknown Warren Beatty, four years her junior, which would last for two years. They became engaged, Joan being the only woman to whom Beatty would ever propose until Annette Bening in the early 1990s.
Joan married award-winning singer, actor and film composer Anthony Newley on 27 May 1963. She and Newley had two children, a daughter Tara Cynara Newley and a son, Alexander Anthony "Sacha" Newley. Joan and Newley divorced in 1970.
In March 1972 Joan married her third husband Ron Kass, who had been the president of Apple Records during the reign of The Beatles. During their marriage Joan had her third and final child, a daughter, Katyana Kennedy "Katie" Kass. In 1980 Katy was struck by a car in a country lane and even though it was being driven carefully at only 27mph she went into a coma. Joan and her husband bought a trailer and parked it in the hospital parking lot in order to sit beside their daughter day and night. Katyana emerged from her coma a few months later, although it would take years for her to fully recover.
Collins' marriage to Kass ended in divorce in 1983, although they remained very close until his death from cancer in 1986. At the height of Dynasty's popularity on 3 November 1985, Joan married Swedish singer Peter Holm in a ceremony in Las Vegas. They were divorced on 25 August 1987, with the lengthy divorce proceedings garnering significant media attention. Joan left Los Angeles and returned to London where she lived with art dealer Robin Hurlstone for over a decade.
In 2001, Joan met theatrical company manager Percy Gibson, a man 32 years her junior. They married on 17 February 2002 at Claridge's Hotel in London, and later renewed their vows in 2009.
After decades of flirting with British politics on 24 May 2004, Joan joined the United Kingdom Independence Party. In October 2004, Joan stated she was not a supporter, but rather a patron of the party.
In early 2005, Joan commented that she had rejoined the Conservative Party, stating, "The Labor Party doesn't care about the British people".
Joan Collins also continues to contribute as The Spectator Magazine Guest Diarist, something she has done since the late 1990s. Joan also writes occasionally for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, and in the USA, Harper's Bazaar. In September 2008 Joan signed on to the Sunday Telegraph as a weekly opinions columnist through the final quarter of the year before leaving to pursue other projects.
Joan Collins has commented that she was a huge supporter of former prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. Joan is also a devout monarchist, remaining loyal to the British Royal Family.
Joan has publicly supported several charities for several decades. In 1982 Joan spoke before the US 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 saw the opening of the Joan Collins Wing of the Children's Hospital of Michigan. In 1990 she was made an honorary founding member of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. In 1994 Joan 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. In 2003 she became a patron of the Shooting Star Children's Hospice in Great Britain while continuing to support several foster children in India, something she has done for the past 25 years.
Although a US resident, with a condo in the popular Los Angeles highrise Sierra Towers, as well as a condo on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Joan still maintains British citizenship and owns a home in the fashionable neighborhood of Belgravia in London as well as a villa in La Croix Valmer, a small seaside village outside St. Tropez in the South of France.
Joan has also established herself as an author. In addition to her bestselling novels (Prime Time, Love & Desire & Hate, Infamous, Star Quality, and Misfortune's Daughters) she has written five lifestyle books (The Joan Collins Beauty Book, My Secrets, My Friends' Secrets and Joan's Way: The Art of Living Well) and memoirs (Past Imperfect, Katy: A Fight for Life and Second Act). To date she has sold over 50 million copies of her novels which have been translated into 30 languages.
In September 1991, Joan Collins delivered a 690-page manuscript to Random House. However, the publishing firm later demanded the return of its $1.3 million advance from Collins, claiming she failed to deliver completed books as per her contract. In court, Joan stated that Random House had received her novel, The Ruling Passion, in 1991 plus another novel, Hell Hath No Fury, in September 1992. She also contended that Random House had not provided the editorial assistance she had expected.
Joan Collins' Random House contract, negotiated by agent Irving Lazar, required that she was to be paid even if her completed manuscripts were not published. On 29 February 1996, a jury determined that she could keep the advance for the first novel, but the publisher did not have to pay for the second manuscript since it was a reworking of the first. Judge Ira Gammerman then ruled that Random House owed Joan $925,000 plus interest for a grand total of $1.3 million. Joan became a heroine to many writers who had been treated badly by their publishers.
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