Saturday, November 19, 2011


A fun read can be found in Christopher Biggins 2008 autobiography - 'Just Biggins', published by John Blake..
Biggins a longtime friend of Joan's has some wonderful stories to tell, as he has met almost everyone! This excerpt relates his first meeting with Joan in 1992.....

'Joan and I met in New York. I was in the lobby of The Carlyle Hotel when an extrardinarily handsome man came up to me. He was mesmerising. Just drop-dead gorgeous and better still, he seemed to know who I was. 'We've met before,' he said, after shaking my hand. Perhaps for the only time in my life I was speechless. I couldn't imagine how I of all people could have forgotten someone as good looking as this. 'Come and join us,' he said, with a relaxed, open friendliness. And by us me meant he and his girlfriend, Joan Collins! She was looking fabulous and I was so excited, it wasn't true. Joan Collins! With me! I talked non-stop I was so thrilled to meet her. Joan had been working in the US for a while and was desperate for gossip about the industry back in London. Who better than me for gossip? It turned out that we were all at the Carlyle for the same reason, to see the new cabaret act there. Joan and I ended up sitting next to each other and very naughtily we carried on gossiping right through the performance. I remember thinking that Joan was an absolute riot. As gloriously dry and as wonderfully sharp as I had hoped. What an absolutely marvellous evening, I thought all the way back to my friend's apartment. But would it be repeated?
A few days after I had got back to London I got a call from Stella Wilson, Joan's PA. 'Joan loved meeting you in New York and would love you to go to a charity event with her,' Stella began. I was beside myself with excitement. My bubble only burst when Stella got to the end of the conversation. 'It's £100 a ticket,' she said of the event in question. Well, hell. For an evening with Joan I'd have happily paid double. Being close friends with Joan and her partner Robin opened up a whole new world for me. He was an art dealer who knew everyone in London and pretty much everyone in the rest of the world as well. And Joan, of course was Joan. They were a couple made in social heaven. The pair moved in the most exalted of circles. Or should I say, they glided in those circles. Everything seemed effortless, though the actor in me always knew how hard Joan had worked to get everything that she had. We had wonderful times in the South of France in the beautiful house Robin had found for his lady. He had decorated it as well, with impeccable taste. And they were my hosts in the hills of Los Angeles as well. My classic Hollywood moment came at the iconic Mr Chow's in Beverly Hills. When we arrived Tony Curtis was at the bar. Then, suddenly across the room came Spartacus himself, Kirk Douglas. I'm just a boy from Oldham, by way of Salisbury Rep, I kept thinking. The cheek of it that I should end up here. The joy of it. The sheer wonder of life. As usual, from one new friendship sprang another. Sue St John lived above Joan Collins in Belgravia and through Sue I met Michael and Shakira Caine. We would all spend lots of weekends at their house in the country, Michael does an amazing roast. From Michael Caine to Michael Winner, Joan and I were in the film of Stephen Berkoff's 'Decadence', with Winner and I adored him. What a character. What a zest for life.
Someone else I met through Joan was dear Tita Cahn, whose husband Sammy Cahn had written all those Frank Sinatra and Doris Day songs. I accompanied Joan to the shiva for Sammy and as I didn't know that many people I was trying to be quiet. It was then that I saw Tita struggling, of all things to get a stereo to work. I tried to help and amazingly succeeded. As a result I made a dear pal that day. Two others who had been there were Barbara and Marvin Davis, the billionaires who owned MGM. I was at Joan's house when Barbara called the next day.. 'Hello, Christopher. We're having a 97th birthday party for George Burns. We'd like you all to come,' she breathed. So Joan, Robin and I all did just that. It was the night of a thousand stars, all squeezed on to just six tables of eight. And I was on the top table. I was sitting with Frank Sinatra, Sidney Poitier, Carol Channing, Shakira Caine, our hostess Barbara Davis and of course George Burns. Though I've met plenty of queens in my time. Frank Sinatra was a king. Pure, solid showbusiness royalty. I didn't know what to call him. The first time we spoke I think I called him 'Sir', the way Americans often do. Then I tried 'Mr Sinatra'. Then he interrupted. 'Christopher, call me Frank, ' he said. Then Frank asked me to be his bodyguard. The man infamous for mafia links, heavies and strong men wanted an old fruit like me to protect him. 'Christopher, will you come out and guard me from my wife while I have a cigarette?' he drawled.
'Biggins, shall we go and see Barbra Streisand?' It was Joan. The answer, of course, was yes. Streisand was in town on her much hyped live tour and Joan and I were thrilled to be able to call in favours and get some great tickets. But then we had a different, better offer. Prince Charles was hosting an evening for one of his charities at the concert and his office asked if we wanted to attend as part of that. The answer, once again was yes. Joan and Robin had recently split up. They handled the seperation with charm and grace. None of us were forced to take sides. Joan's new beau, Percy Gibson is a good man and is clearly good for her. But it was tricky for a while to adapt. I saw less of Joan as this new love got off the ground. So I was even more determined to enjoy our night with Prince Charles and the biggest diva in showbusiness! We were all having drinks at the charity reception before the concert, it was clear that the staff wanted us all to take our seats in the box, but Charles was still talking and of course Joan and I couldn't leave until he led the way. The whole room emptied before our conversation finally drew to a close. Charles then led us to our seats. Later in the evening, after clips of the event had been shown on the news, my phone started to vibrate. 'Biggins, trust you to go and see a Barbra Streisand concert and end up on the news walking in with Prince Charles and Joan Collins, ' was the gist of them all. But dear old Jenks in my first RSC production had taught me the benefit of making a great entrance. It's something I've never forgotten.

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