Joan Collins - Biography - IMDb
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Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (51)  | Personal Quotes (29)  | Salary (5)

Overview (3)

Born in Paddington, London, England, UK
Birth NameJoan Henrietta Collins
Height 5' 6¼" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Joan Collins is an English actress from Paddington, London. She is most famous for playing the role of vengeful schemer Alexis Carrington Colby in the soap opera "Dynasty" (1981-1989). In 1997, Collins was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to drama. In 2015, Collins was promoted to the rank of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to charity.

Collins was the daughter of talent agent Joseph William Collins (1902-1988) and his wife, dance teacher Elsa Bessant, (1906-1962). Joseph was born in South Africa, and had Jewish descent. As a talent agent, his most famous clients were Shirley Bassey, the Beatles and Tom Jones. Elsa was born in the United Kingdom, to an Anglican family.

Collins was educated at Francis Holland School in London, an independent day school for girls. She made her theatrical debut c. 1942, as a child actress. She had a role in a performance of the play "A Doll's House" (1879) by Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906). In 1949, Collins started training as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. In 1950, she signed a contract with a British film studio, the Rank Organisation of businessman Joseph Arthur Rank, 1st Baron Rank (1888-1972).

Collins made her film debut in the short film "Facts and Fancies" (1951), and her feature film debut in "Lady Godiva Rides Again" (1951), where she played an unnamed Beauty Queen Contestant. She had supporting roles as the Greek maid Marina in "The Woman's Angle" (1952) and gangster's moll Lil Carter in "Judgment Deferred" (1952).

Collins had her big break when cast as juvenile delinquent Norma Hart in prison drama "I Believe in You" (1952). She was hailed as Britain's new "bad girl" and started being offered high-profile roles in British films. The next stage in her career started when cast as Princess Nellifer of Egypt in the historical epic "Land of the Pharaohs" (1955), an international production . While the film was not successful at the box office, it became a cult classic and Nellifer was one of Collins' most recognizable roles. Studio executive Darryl Francis Zanuck (1902-1979) was sufficiently impressed to offer Collins a 7-year-long contract with American studio 20th Century Fox. Collins took the offer.

Collins' first American film was the historical drama "The Virgin Queen" (1955), where she shared the top-billing with established stars Bette Davis and Richard Todd. Collins then played the leading role of actress Evelyn Nesbit (1884/1885-1967) in the biographical film "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing" (1955). The role was intended for established actress Marilyn Monroe, but Collins replaced Monroe based on a studio decision.

Collins was placed on loan to studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for her next role, that of gold digger Crystal in "The Opposite Sex" (1956). She received the top billing in the refugee-themed film "Sea Wife" (1956), and enjoyed box-office success with the interracial-love themed drama "Island in the Sun" (1957). In the drama film "The Wayward Bus" (1957), Collins received top-billing over her co-star Jayne Mansfield. Her next films included the spy thriller "Stopover Tokyo" (1957), the Western "The Bravados" (1958), the comedy "Rally Round the Flag, Boys" (1959), the caper film "Seven Thieves" (1960), and the biblical epic Esther and the King (1960).

By 1960, Collins was one of 20th Century Fox's biggest stars, but she demanded a release from her studio contract. She had campaigned for the title role in the upcoming production of "Cleopatra", but the studio chose to cast Elizabeth Taylor in the role. Collins felt slighted. As a freelance actress for most of the 1960s, Collins had few film roles. Among her most notable roles was playing the leading lady in "The Road to Hong Kong" (1962), the last film in the long-running series "Road to ...". The male leads for the entire series were Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, but their usual leading lady Dorothy Lamour was considered too old for the role. Collins replaced Lamour.

Collins started appearing frequently on television guest star roles. Among her most notable television roles was the villainous Siren in "Batman", and pacifist spokeswoman Edith Keeler in "Star Trek: The Original Series". Collins played in only one episode of Star Trek, the time-travel episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" (1967). However the episode is regarded among the best episodes in the entire Star Trek franchise, with Collins considered one of the most memorable guest stars in the original series.

In 1970, Collins returned to her native United Kingdom. She started appearing frequently in British thriller and horror films of the decade. Among her films was revenge-themed drama "Revenge" (1971),science fiction film "Quest for Love" (1972), horror anthology "Tales from the Crypt" (1972), psychological horror "Fear in the Night" (1972), thriller "Dark Places", horror anthology "Tales That Witness Madness" (1973), and horror film "I Don't Want to Be Born" (1975).

Collins appeared in a few comedies in-between horror films, but none was particularly successful. She returned to the United States in order to play a role in the giant monster film "Empire of the Ants" (1977). She then returned to mostly appearing in thriller roles. She was catapulted back to stardom with the lead role of nymphomaniac Fontaine Khaled in the erotic drama "The Stud" (1978), an adaptation of a novel written by her younger sister Jackie Collins. The film was a surprise box office hit, earning 20 million dollars at the worldwide box office. Collins returned to the role of Fontaine in the sequel film ''The Bitch'' (1979), which was also a hit.

Collins found herself in high demand in both stage and film. But she gained more notoriety with the television role of Alexis Carington in "Dynasty". She started appearing in the role in the second season of the soap opera. Her performance is credited with the subsequent rise of the show's Nielsen's ratings. She became a household name, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1983.

By 1985, "Dynasty" was the number-one show in the United States, beating out rival soap opera "Dallas". Collins was nominated six times for a Golden Globe Award for her role, winning once in 1983. She was also once nominated for an Emmy as Best Actress in a Drama Series. Collins was viewed as a sex symbol at the time, and in 1983 appeared in a 12-page photo layout for Playboy magazine. She was 50-years-old, unusually old for a Playboy model.

Collins appeared in a total of 195 episodes of "Dynasty". The series was canceled with the last episode of its 9th season, due to falling ratings. New ABC entertainment president Bob Iger (1951-) is credited with ending the series as soon as possible. The show had a cliffhanger ending, and several of its subplots were not resolved. Collins returned to the role of Alexis in the sequel mini-series "Dynasty: The Reunion" (1991). The miniseries only lasted for 2 episodes, but resolved several subplots and was a ratings hit.

Throughout the 1990s., Collins returned to guest star roles in television. She appeared in (among others) "Roseanne", "Egoli: Place of Gold", and "The Nanny", She had the recurring role of Christina Hobson in the short-lived soap opera "Pacific Palisades" (1997). She appeared in 7 of its 13 episodes. Collins' next notable soap opera role was that of so-called "rich bitch" Alexandra Spaulding in 2002 episodes of the long-running series "Guiding Light". Collins was the third actress to play this role. following Beverlee McKinsey and Marj Dusay.

In film, Collins played Pearl Slaghoople, Wilma Flintstone's mother, in "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" (2000). It was the second live-action film based on the popular animated series "The Flintstones". In 2006, Collins toured the United Kingdom with "An Evening with Joan Collins", an one-woman show where she narrated the highs and lows of her career and life. She later toured the word with both this show and its sequel "Joan Collins Unscripted".

Collins had a notable guest star-role as Ruth Van Rydock in the television film "Agatha Christie's Marple: They Do It with Mirrors" (2009). The film was an adaptation of the 1952 novel by Agatha Christie, where Ruth is an old school friend of Jane Marple, who assigned Jane to investigate a home for juvenile delinquents.

Collins played herself in three episodes of the sitcom "Happily Divorced" (2011-2013). She had the recurring role of Crystal Hennessy-Vass in the sitcom "Benidorm" (2007-2018). She had another recurring role as Alexandra, Grand Duchess of Oxford in the soap opera "The Royals" (2015-2018).

Collins had two different roles in the horror anthology series "American Horror Story". She played wealthy grandmother Evie Gallant, and witch Bubbles McGee. She appeared in a total of four episodes in 2018.

By 2020, Collins was 86-years-old. She has never retired from acting, and she continues to appear in new roles.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Dimos I

Family (3)

Spouse Percy Gibson (17 February 2002 - present)
Peter Holm (3 November 1985 - 25 August 1987)  (divorced)
Ronald S. Kass (11 March 1972 - 6 May 1983)  (divorced)  (1 child)
Anthony Newley (27 May 1963 - 13 August 1971)  (divorced)  (2 children)
Maxwell Reed (24 May 1952 - 29 May 1956)  (divorced)
Parents Joseph William Collins
Elsa Bessant
Relatives Jackie Collins (sibling)
Tracy Lerman (niece or nephew)

Trade Mark (3)

Often plays a glamorous, adulterous woman
Natural brunette hair
Seductive deep voice

Trivia (51)

Trained as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, England joining at age 15.
As of May 2000, her daughter Tara Newley Arkle is a singer and news anchor in England. Son Alexander Newley is an artist. Daughter Katyana Kass is an actress and a theatrical production assistant.
Older sister of Jackie Collins.
Two of her childhood wishes came true when she made her debut on Broadway (wish #1) in 1991 in Noël Coward's "Private Lives" and starred as Amanda (wish #2).
Her first agent was her father Joseph Collins in London. Later in her career, her agent was the well-regarded Swifty Lazar (aka "Swifty" Lazar), until his death in 1993.
Resided with Robin Hurlstone from 1988 - 2001.
Affectionately known as "The British Open" because of her liberal lifestyle.
Great admirer of former Prime Minister Lady Margaret Thatcher.
Has described herself as "right-wing" [politically], although she once collected welfare in the United States per her autobiography.
First husband Maxwell Reed tried to sell her to an Arab sheik for £10,000, just seven months after their wedding.
She was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1997 Queen's New Year's Honours List for her services to drama.
Pulled in a reported $120,000 per episode as Alexis Carrington Colby on Dynasty (1981).
Met her fifth husband, theatre manager Percy Gibson, when she appeared in a touring production of the play "Love Letters" in the United States. Gibson helped edit her new novel, "Star Quality". She was 68 and he was 36.
Children: Tara Newley Arkle (born October 12, 1963) and Alexander Newley (born November 8, 1965) by Anthony Newley; Katyana Kass (born Kennedy "Katy" Kass, born June 20, 1972) by Ronald S. Kass.
Became a grandmother on October 5, 1998. However, being Joan, she refuses to be called "Grandma"; Miel Celeste Adam calls her "DoDo" instead.
Acting protégée and longtime friends with John Forsythe.
Brother William Collins Jr. (born 1946) is a real estate agent.
Attended the funeral of Sharon Tate on August 13, 1969 and was among the guests at Tate's wedding to Roman Polanski 19 months earlier.
Is the eldest of three children of Joseph William and Elsa Collins.
The second volume of her autobiography was called "Second Act" and was released in 1996, following her successful court battle against her publisher, Random House. The company had demanded that Joan return the $2-million advance it had given her for two novels, as it claimed her submissions were "substandard". The New York judge ruled in her favor.
A doll and an action figure were made in the likeness of her character on Star Trek (1966), Edith Keeler.
Has three grandchildren: Miel and Weston by daughter Tara Newley Arkle, and Ava Grace Newley (born July 2004), by son Alexander Newley and daughter-in-law Angela Tassoni.
Refused to return to work on Dynasty (1981) at the beginning of the 1985-86 season until she was given a raise, forcing the writers to write her out of the first episode of the season. It was a bold move on her part, because the previous season's cliffhanger was the infamous "Moldavian Massacre", in which all the characters were shot. It would have been very easy for the producers to fire her and eliminate the character of Alexis by having her being killed in the shootout. However, she successfully negotiated a raise to around $60,000 per episode and returned to work, missing only one episode.
Only appeared in 13 of 22 episodes during the final season of Dynasty (1981) because the producers told her they could not afford to pay her every week.
Separated permanently with first husband Maxwell Reed on her 21st birthday.
Best known by the public for her role as Alexis Carrington Colby on Dynasty (1981).
She is allergic to shellfish.
In Italy, almost all her films were dubbed by Dhia Cristiani, except Land of the Pharaohs (1955) and Sea Wife (1957) where she was dubbed by Clelia Bernacchi and Lydia Simoneschi respectively.
Her father was born in South Africa, to a Jewish family (some of whom had come from the Netherlands and Germany). Her mother was English, and had French ancestry.
Has been good friends with Dame Shirley Bassey for many years. Shirley sang at her wedding to Percy Gibson.
At age 16, she was courted by 19-year-old Larry Hagman. He had to be very respectful and report to her father.
Former stepmother of Robert Kass.
She is one of only five actors to have played "Special Guest Villains" on Batman (1966) who are still alive, the others being Julie Newmar, John Astin, Glynis Johns and Barbara Rush.
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6901 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on December 14, 1983.
Had often feuded with Charlotte Rae.
Replaced Marilyn Monroe in The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955). Marilyn was considered too old at 30 when the girl was supposed to be 17.
Her younger sister, author Jackie Collins, passed away on September 19, 2015, only two weeks away from what would have been her 78th birthday on October 4.
She was awarded the DBE (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2015 Queen's New Year Honours List for her services to charity. She is a philanthropist and a charity campaigner.
Godmother of supermodel-actress Cara Delevingne.
She was the fourth choice to play the role of Alexis Carrington on Dynasty (1981). The other contenders were Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor and Jessica Walter.
She was one of a number of actresses, including Joanne Woodward, who did a screen test for the title role of Cleopatra (1963). The role went to Dame Elizabeth Taylor.
She has never retired from acting.
In the 1986 book "Son of Golden Turkey Awards" by Harry and Michael Medved, Joan won the award for "The Most Humiliating Performance by a Future Television Star" for her role in the 1977 film "Empire of the Ants".
Daughter of Joseph William (1902-1988) and Elsa (née Bessant) Collins (1906-1962).
Divorced Peter Holm August 1987.
Wrote 'The Book of Beauty' on early 80's.
Father was impressario Joe Collins.
Was under consideration for the role of Elaine Robinson in The Graduate (1967).

Personal Quotes (29)

[1984] I enjoyed being an adulteress... taking a certain vengeance for the fact that my husband was not being faithful.
The unfortunate statistics are that there are far more available and fabulous over-40 women than there are available and fabulous over-40 men.
The secret of having a personal life is not answering too many questions about it.
It is unseemly to undress on stage. I won't do that.
I have always tried to live my life with enthusiasm and pleasure.
I've never chased fame. I came into this business to be a theatre actress. I was nine when I first appeared on stage. But I can't say I would turn my back on fortune. I'm someone who enjoys the benefits of money. I created a lifestyle for myself. Nobody else did it for me. Everything I have I've bought with my own money.
After a certain age, you get the face you deserve.
I've never been that keen on Shakespeare.
[1995] I was thinking, who of the English actresses in the last 30 or 40 years have achieved as much as I have?
Age, in my opinion, has no bearing at all, that is unless, of course, one happens to be a bottle of wine.
[on Margaret Thatcher's 80th birthday] She's the Iron Lady and I want to be just like that when I grow up.
The problem with beauty is that it's like being born rich and getting poorer.
I've never yet met a man who could look after me. I don't need a husband. What I need is a wife.
The easiest way to convince my kids that they don't really need something is to get it for them.
[on her guest starring role on Star Trek (1966)] People still want to talk to me about that episode - some remember me more for that than anything else I've done. (September/October 2006, Star Trek Magazine issue #1)
[on her character in The Bitch (1979)] She appears to have the world by the balls, but underneath she's trying to solve the problem of loneliness, which I think is the universal problem of all rich people.
Dynasty (1981) was the opportunity to take charge of my career rather than walking around like a library book waiting to be loaned out.
Even when you win the rat race, you're still a rat.
[on Italian film director Roberto Rossellini] Rossellini was a stubborn, opinionated genius who had total autonomy over all his productions.
[on George Peppard] He's arrogant -- the sort of man who expects women to fall at his feet at the slightest command; who throws his weight around. He gives the impression that he's the star, what he says goes and that nobody else is very important.
[on success] Show me a person who has never made a mistake and I'll show you somebody who has never achieved much.
[on the death of longtime friend and former teacher, John Forsythe, who played Blake Carrington] He was one of the last of the true gentlemen of the acting profession. I enjoyed our nine years of feuding, fussing and fighting as the Carringtons.
[on her experience of a real life haunting in Venice, Italy] There is no way I am staying another night in this palazzo.
[on James Dean] Intense, moody, incredible charisma. He was short, myopic, not good-looking in life, really. I drove with Jimmy in his new red Porsche once. We were pissed [drunk] and went down Sunset and I was scared. He had the windows open, the music up, driving really fast. He died in that same Porsche two or three months later. You know who he was like? A young, better-looking Woody Allen, in a way. He had those same qualities of shyness, uncertainty and insecurity.
The compartment that's easy to put me in is "freethinking, sexy broad with a dirty mouth, who pretty much does what she wants". But there's more to me than that.
My father is Jewish and I look exactly like him... My mother is British, but she's of French extraction.
[on her engagement to Percy Gibson] I warned him that we would be attacked remorselessly in the media.
I think I got a lot of negativity when I started. "She can't act, she's pretty and good looking, coasting on her looks." Vivien Leigh told me once that she wasn't taken seriously as an actress until she started to lose her looks. She was a great beauty. But she was always met with negativity. She married Laurence Olivier, he was good looking, beautiful, nothing stopped him. It's very unfair. I got tarred and feathered with it. But I'm used to that kind of negativity, I got a lot of it.
Mum was Church of England, Daddy was Jewish but we weren't religious at all. We didn't celebrate at all. I do feel Jewish, but I feel Christian as well.

Salary (5)

Island in the Sun (1957) $1,250 a week
Empire of the Ants (1977) $35,000
Dynasty (1981) $40,000 /episode (season 5)
Dynasty (1981) $120,000 /episode (season 9)
Sins (1986) $1,000,000

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