Joan Collins Biography

PHOTO: Joan Collins

The life and times of the always lip-glossed Joan Collins who made a name for herself in Hollywood in the '50s and '60s, toned down her acting for a family life in the '70s and ruled the television world in the '80s with plentiful guest appearances and her killer portrayal of Alexis in 'Dynasty'

Joan Henrietta Collins was born on 23 May 1953 in London to British mother Elsa, a former nightclub hostess, and South-African Joseph William Collins. She is the eldest of three children with her younger sister being the author Jackie Collins.

As a baby, Joan was so beautiful that her mother had to put a sign saying 'Do Not Kiss' on her pram. The family often joined other Londoners in the tube to avoid German bombs during WWII.

Joan, the daughter of a theatrical booking agent, studied at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for 18 months and made her film debut in 1951 as a beauty pageant contestant in 'Lady Godiva Rides Again'.

In 1952, she married her first husband, Irish actor Maxwell Reed, and they divorced in 1956 after he allegedly tried selling her to an Arab Sheikh.

She appeared in a handful of other British films, such as 'The Woman's Angle' (1952) and 'The Good Die Young' (1954) before gaining international attention in 1955, as the femme fatale in Howard Hawks' epic of ancient Egypt, 'Land of the Pharaohs'.

A year later, Joan ventured to Hollywood and immediately capitalised on her sultry appeal in 'The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing', portraying Evelyn Nesbit Thaw, whose involvement with prominent architect Stanford White brought about his shocking murder in early 20th Century NYC.

Joan worked infrequently during her 1963-71 marriage to Anthony Newley, although she starred opposite him in his notorious sex comedy 'Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?' The couple had one son and one daughter together.

During 1967, Joan made several television appearances in shows including 'Batman', 'Star Trek', 'The Virginian' and 'The Danny Thomas Hour'.

When she returned to films, it was in thrillers and horror sci-fi films like 'Inn of the Frightened People', 'Tales From the Crypt', 'Tales That Witness Madness' and 'Empire of the Ants'. In 1972, she wed Ron Kass, president of Apple Records. They were married for 11 years and had one daughter called Katy together.

Joan returned to the London stage in 1980, with 'The Last of Mrs Cheney', before she landed the role of super-bitch Alexis Carrington in the prime-time TV soap 'Dynasty'. While appearing in the show, she went through a messy marriage and divorce with Swedish pop singer Peter Holm in 1987.

This role, which she played from 1981-89, opened up a whole new world of opportunity for her and bought her greater worldwide fame and recognition. Playboy beckoned, featuring her as '50 Is Beautiful'.

Joan had already written three books, including a kiss-and-tell autobiography, 'Past Imperfect' in 1978, when she followed in sister Jackie's footsteps and published her first novel, 'Prime Time' in 1988. Despite the critics panning the book, it became a bestseller. She went on to write novels 'Love and Desire and Hate' (1990), 'Too Damn Famous' (1995), 'Infamous' (1996), 'Star Quality' (2000) and 'Misfortune's Daughter' in 2004. More than 50 million copies of her books have been sold and they have been translated into over 30 languages.

In 1997, she was awarded an OBE.

In 2000, she also appeared in the play 'Love Letters', where she met Percy Gibson. Percy, who is 31 years Joan's junior, became Joan's husband in 2001.

The following year, Collins co-starred in the made-for-TV movie 'These Old Broads' alongside Shirley MacLaine, Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds.

In 2004, she starred in the Dutch comedy 'Alice in Glamourland', before touring the UK several months later in the play 'Full Circle'.

Collins returned to the UK in 2006 with her one-woman show, 'An Evening With Joan Collins', which was directed by her husband Percy Gibson. The actress later that year joined her former Dynasty co-stars for 'Dynasty Reunion: Catfights and Caviar'.

She made several appearances in TV shows including 'Footballer's Wives' and 'Hotel Babylon' the same year.

In 2009, she appeared in a two-hour-long episode of murder mystery show 'Marple', where she played Ruth Van Rydock. She also renewed her wedding vows with Gibson this year.

Clearly not one to take life easy in retirement, Collins returned to Britain the following year to make her pantomime debut in 'Dick Whittington' at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

The actress hit the headlines in 2010 when she revealed that the gown she wore for the Oscars caused her to faint.

Writing for the Daily Mail, she said: "After an hour of tests, the doctors discharged me with stern admonishments not to wear such tight dresses - and to eat in future if I was expected to last the pace at the fabulous Vanity Fair party."

She appeared in an episode of 'Rules of Engagement' in 2010 and is currently filming 'Saving Santa 2012' in which she voices a character called Shiny.

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