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Q+A: Joan Collins talks love, marriages and ‘Dynasty’ catfights

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Judy Bryer
Robin Leach and Joan Collins at the Venetian.
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Joan Collins at "Jubilee!" in Bally's on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012.
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Barbara Eden and Joan Collins during the Hollywood Autograph Show weekend in Las Vegas from Nov. 18-19, 2011.
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Joan Collins, Celine Dion and others at the Venetian.

Joan Collins roast

She is the epitome of Hollywood glamour, but she’s British! Off camera, she’s a gracious and oh-so “propuh” English lady awarded the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 1997, but on camera she can roll in the mud and deck Linda Evans and Diahann Carroll in a catfight with a single punch.
She’s been a sex symbol through the years and became British and U.S. royalty as the hottest TV property ever in the days of “Dynasty” when she defined the word “bitch.” Years earlier, she actually starred in “The Bitch,” a 1979 sequel to the year-earlier “The Stud,” both based on bestselling novels by her younger sister, Jackie Collins.
To say it’s been a colorful, checkered, fascinating and interesting life would be an understatement. I’ve known Joan from my early days in Britain. We’re good friends still to this day with songwriter Leslie Bricusse (“Stop the World,” “Willy Wonka,” “Roar of the Greasepaint”) and his actress wife Yvonne Romaine, who were my first showbiz interview subjects some 56 years ago.
Joan was only 9 years old when she made her stage debut and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. That led to an exclusive U.K. movie studio contract and a number of films on both sides of the Atlantic. At 22, she was in Hollywood making headlines.
In 1981, TV viewers were fixated on her role of Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter, the evil ex-wife of John Forsythe’s Blake Carrington in the top-rated nighttime soap opera “Dynasty.” It won her a Golden Globe for Best Actress and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Here’s the YouTube video of when Dean Martin roasted her as the Woman of the Year from MGM Grand in 1984. Watch Bea Arthur’s hilarious routine about the “Dynasty” days and how her character began the permissiveness of U.S. television.
Joan hasn’t retired or even slowed down after more than 70 movies, 25 theatrical shows and more than 50 TV programs with 250 episodes. It’s a remarkable career. She’s still performing plays, making films and TV commercials and writing books, including five novels, four memoirs and eight nonfiction works on beauty, health and politics.
She has certainly come a long way since her 1956 Golden Globe for Most Promising Young Actress and Star of Tomorrow awards. Since then, she’s received more than 20 other cinematic recognitions, including film-festival lifetime achievement awards.
Today she’s in the headlines again talking bravely about when at age 17 she was drugged and raped. Joan appears in a new Netflix documentary about sexual violence titled “Brave Miss World” with Israeli pageant winner Linor Abargil, who was raped six weeks before being crowned Miss World.
On Thursday, Joan will drive here to Las Vegas in her Rolls-Royce across the I-15 desert for three weekend nights of her one-woman show at South Point. She took time out from early Christmas shopping to talk with me:
“The show is about my life, with humor and amusement and anecdotes. While I talk about it and the people who I’ve worked with, behind me there is a screen, with projected photographs, clips from movies, outtakes from “Dynasty” and films from my two court cases.
“I had two quite famous court cases over my books in a battle with publishers, so there’s a lot of newsreel footage from them. Generally, it’s just a whole montage of something going on all the time in the background.”
Do you spill secrets?
There aren’t too many secrets left, darling, because I’ve been doing the show for eight years. But they will be secrets to some people, yes. We’ve been doing it in New York, Palm Beach, Miami, in London, and we toured Britain — in all on and off for eight years.
What is the one thing above all others that the audience loves?
The outtakes — they are very funny. Bloopers, really. And of course they love the “Dynasty” fight scene that I have there with Linda Evans. Some with Diahann Carroll. They also love the courtroom stuff when I am being interrogated by this really harsh, nasty lawyer in New York. It’s no-hold’s-barred as I tell the whole story of that.
The entire show runs about 75 minutes, and then I do a Q+A with my husband, Percy, working the audience for questions. In all about 90 minutes and then a meet-and-greet photo opportunity.
Ever stumped by some of the questions you are asked?
No. It’s always who was the best kisser and that kind of thing. It’s never too outrageous. How do you put on your eyelashes? That was actually asked of me by a transvestite.
I talk about love and marriage. Of course! Why wouldn’t I? It’s what makes the world go around, isn’t it? Or is it money?
I talk about old husbands. It’s a montage of my life. I talk about some of the boyfriends like Warren Beatty. And, no, I’m not going to tell you everything, so you have to come and hear it for yourself at the show. It’s very entertaining anyway.
Do you enjoy doing this, telling all the intimate, behind-the-scenes secrets?
Well, darling, I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t. Absolutely, I love doing it, and I’ve been wanting to play Las Vegas for so long. So it’s a great thrill for me to be there this weekend.”
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London theater critics raved: “The devastatingly well-preserved Joan Collins gives her audiences exactly what they want: Glamour, glitz and gossip. She looks terrific in skintight, spangled black pants sitting on a baronial chair in front of a movie screen dropping names like confetti.
“Joan reveals the time Bette Davis got jealous with her and kicked her on the set of ‘The Virgin Queen’ and when Peter Sellers dressed as a Nazi to pick her up for a date from her Jewish neighborhood.”
Another critic praised the Queen of ’80s Soaps: “The Ageless One sashays on the stage like she owns it and has charisma, confidence at breakneck speed through a series of showbiz tales all told with great skill, plenty of wit and delightful, surprising self-deprecation.”
“A Night With Joan Collins” is at 7:30 p.m. at South Point on Friday, Saturday and Sunday

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