With life looking better than ever, the Dynasty star’s still queen
SHE’s the hottest property in America. In fact most countries in the western world would have no doubt who you mean when you say the name Joan Collins. She’s British-born, bold and brassy
— and she’s the undisputed Queen of the Soapie bitches.
After 25 years in show business and more than 50 movies, Joan Collins has reached her peak — as Alexis Carrington Colby in the steamy drama, Dynasty.
But that doesn’t mean Joan and Alexis are one and the same — in fact, Joan views her screen character with some contempt!
“I think women who slavishly follow fashion the way Alexis does are pathetic,” says the candid Collins. “The whole fashion thing with Alexis is pathetic — her image hinges on having a new dress for every scene. That’s not my style at all. You’ve got to have more than a lavish gown to make an impression in this world.”
Even so, Joan insists on final approval for the wardrobe she wears on Dynasty — something which has led people to believe she does go a bit over the, top at times. For instance, who but Alexis could get away with wearing a Balenciaga gown to visit a heart patient in intensive care.
But perhaps that’s all part of the Collin’s sense of the ridiculous — a marvellous irreverance to the serious business of being a soapie star.
“When Alexis went to Borneo trying to find her missing son, they (the producers) put me in a designer label khaki shirt and jacket. Just the stuff for fighting off wild animals in the swamps and jungles. Can you imagine? It was hysterical!
“But all that nonsense is part and parcel of being Alexis. Of course I give the character a tongue-in-cheek quality — I have to inject humour into Alexis otherwise I’d go mad. Don’t get me wrong
— I’m not knocking the show. Sure, I’m a Dynasty slave, but I adore it. I think it’s a wonderful series.”
Personally, though the impact of Alexis on Joan’s life has not been all good. With the fame and fortune came the tragic break up with her fourth husband, Ron Kass. The marriage, put under stress with the severe illness of their daughter Katy, was unable to survive the demands on Joan or her burgeoning Dynasty career.
Few women have led such an exciting life as Joan — either on screen or off. Fewer still have told their inner secrets as frankly and with such a blase approach to life.
Having survived three traumatic marriages and a wild affair with screen star Warren Beatty, she has now, at 50, found a dignity that matches her TV character and an enthusiasm that is personally hers.
And to capitalise on her Carrington image, she has now launched a jewellery line and has a young live-in boyfriend who was once accused of involvement in a $2 million jewellery heist.
Joan’s not worrying about whether or not she should marry her new beau: “I go totally by my own instincts,” she said of her new approach to life. “I spent my life being told what to do by people who shouldn’t be directing traffic, let alone my life.
“When I became secure in my own beliefs, I was able to say, ‘If anyone’s going to tell me what’s right or wrong, I’ll do it. And if I make mistakes, they’ll fall on my shoulders'."
In candid voice and open manner, Joan answered any question that was thrown her way. Whether praising her co-star,
Linda Gray or admitting her own worst films, she speaks with honesty.
“I totally cringe at some of the early things I did,” she says. “There’s one film I made with Richard Basehart. I played his wife and I was awful. I was only 19 and he was 25 years older than me.”
For a while Joan was stuck with horror shows and supporting roles in TV shows such as Starsky and Hutch. “I thought I was a better actress than I was credited for.” She was — and she proved it!
Joan used her new jewellery business as an example of a new personal dedication. “For the first time, I’m creating situations for myself rather than waiting until somebody comes to me, like most actors do. I’m going out and I’m saying, ‘I want to design jewellery’.”
Joan lives in a luxury three-level mansion in Beverly Hills with her 12-year-old daughter, Katy, and 36.year-old lover Peter Holm. A handsome former rock star from Sweden, Holm could face arrest if he were to return to his home country. He and his former girlfriend were accused of smuggling $2 million in diamonds from Belgium into Sweden.
The romance lost its sheen when Joan learned of HoIm’s past after they had been together four months. It survived because Joan’s own story is one of a Past Imperfect.
In her autobiography of that name, Joan tells of her main aim in life at the age of 15 when she first entered the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. It was to lose her virginity.
She did with her first husband — English actor Maxwell Reed slipped drugs into her drink and then raped her, she wrote. But she married him anyway and was soon dubbed “Britain’s answer to Ava Gardner.”
In no time she was cavorting with a string of other men. “Sex was the best indoor sport going,” Joan said. Then came Warren Beatty: “He was insatiable — sex was his favourite pastime. He could never get enough.”
But the affair with Beatty fizzled out after a while and Joan married British singer Anthony Newley even though, she says, he had a penchant for “younger” girls. To fill her time, she had an affair with Ryan O’Neal and got her third divorce.
It all adds to the Collins intrigue. “You know, I didn’t set out to be any of this. I didn’t set out to be an over-40 sex symbol. But I’ve always had a very good inner voice and I also believe that the person who has never made a mistake never accomplishes much.”
Listening to Joan you know she’s being forthright. Who else could speak of a relationship with the son of silent movie comic genius Charlie Chaplin with such ease. She met Sidney Chaplin on her first American film, Land Of The Pharaohs in which she played opposite the late Jack Hawkins.
“Sidney Chaplin. Yes,” she beams. “We laughed ourselves into bed. He had this great, marvellous, scurrilous wit.”
Meanwhile, Joan is finding herself. She says she feels better than she ever has in her life. “I don’t want any negativity in my life now,” she says. “For instance, I don’t believe in getting sick. I’ve never had a cold. Diseases occur when people think in a negative way. I can be around people who are sneezing and have the flu and I won’t get sick because I will myself not to.”
If ever she was going to get a cold from exposure it was in her heralded nude spread in Playboy magazine. Instead, she got only accolades.
Both slim and voluptuous, she worries about her weight. “I only drink wine or champagne and I have cut red meat out from my diet. I eat chicken and lots of salads.
Asked what her favourite performance in a film is, she says blithely, “I haven’l done it yet. It’s going to be done one of these days. My favourite thing in my life so far is definitely Dynasty. I think I’ve finally found my sea legs as an actor.”