Joan Collins: Hollywood is a Tough Town

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Joa Collins at the Casino in Coconut Creek

Who is the best-looking 80-year-old on the planet? Joan Collins, of course!

The diva of Dynasty breezed into the stage at the Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek recently to regale a capacity audience with a retrospective of her amazing life.

Using a big screen to project still images and video clips, Collins adopted a chronological approach, covering her entire career. Her first review as a child said “Joan Collins makes a very believable fairy.”

“I went to theatrical school at age 9, and to my great delight I got to play in The Dolls House.” But her youthful appearance in the play went awry as she and a friend got “caught up in a game of snakes and ladders backstage. We completely missed our entrance.”

Later, Collins said she “worked hard to get into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.” This led to her first movie role, I Believe in You.

“In all I made 10 films for the Rank Corporation,” and it earned her several epithets from the critics. “My favourite was Britain’s Best Bet since Jean Simmons.”

After 18 months with Rank, “Hollywood called. I arrived at the end of the Golden Era. It was just as I imagined it – full of handsome well-groomed men. But Hollywood is a very very tough town.”

Collins was starstruck. “I wanted to emulate my role models, including Ava Gardner. I met my namesake Joan Crawford, who (on a movie set) was ensconced like an empress. She refused to offer her hand to me.” Collins also met Crawford’s nemesis, Bette Davis. “She was utterly terrifying. She was not enamoured of pretty 20-year-olds.”

Of Gene Kelly: “His house was a mecca for all the stars. He gave me the advice never to let a movie studio put me on a horse. It’s dangerous, he said, and you will put a stunt girl out of work.”

Collins had lots to say about Britain’s preeminent actor, Richard Burton. “I adored him since I was a student. When I met him he regaled me with all the actresses he had seduced.”

Of the three greats of the United States, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra, she also dished the dirt.

Crosby: “I had to sing with him. He was a grumpy old man, and kissing him was like kissing an ashtray!”

Hope: “A really great guy.”

Sinatra: “I turned him down for a date but Linda Evans went out with him. She would, wouldn’t she!”

Evans of course was Collins’ great on-screen rival in the mega-hit TV show Dynasty.

This was her most famous recurring role, but Star Trek fans know her best as the guest star on the very best episode of the original series, City on the Edge of Forever. “It was the first time Captain Kirk fell in love,” she said.

While she seems happy now, Collins admitted her “personal life was an unmitigated disaster.”

A genuine survivor of the Golden Age of both Hollywood and Television from the 50s and 60s, Collins gave the audience a great performance that will live as an enduring memory for all who saw her wonderful one-woman show. She is a true inspiration and a national treasure, whether in England or America.

Visit her official website:

For upcoming events at the casino, visit their website:

Clifford Cunningham

Clifford Cunningham is a planetary scientist currently affiliated with the National Astronomical Research Institute. He did his PhD work in the history of astronomy at James Cook University, and has undergraduate degrees in science and ancient history from the University of Waterloo. He is the author of 12 books on asteroids and the history of science. In 1999 he appeared on the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Asteroid 4276 was named in his honour by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in 1990.

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