Cheer yourself up even more with, as recommended below right, Joan Collins: a Life in Lipstick on Radio 2. Last week’s episode was a belter, racing between her childhood (first stage appearance, aged nine, as a boy in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House) through her days as a Rank studios starlet to her contract being sold (“like a pound of Brussels sprouts,” she said) to 20th Century Fox and Hollywood where “they made a star of one”.
She was just 20 and watched “mouth open in awe” at everything, Ava Gardner storming out on a beau, Joan noting for future use the drama Ava put into donning her mink stole. She learned from Bette Davis to be kind (as Bette wasn’t) to young actresses. She discovered, on The Road to Hong Kong, why the film crew hated Bing Crosby but loved Bob Hope.
She dated Robert Wagner until the night he introduced her to Anthony Newley and, said Wagner, “that was that”. She married Newley, had two daughters and, at 28, found herself “washed up”. Not our Joan, as you’ll discover tonight. These two shows move like lightning, tunes and quotes and scraps of dialogue popping up like non-stop slices of delicious toast. Economics, it ain’t. Life, it is.
Joan Collins gives a candid and witty account of her seven decade career in showbusiness, illustrated by a treasure trove of archive clips and music. She reflects on Hollywood, television, men, losing out on Cleopatra to Elizabeth Taylor, getting older and modern standards of beauty and glamour.
In part two, Joan recalls her return to acting in the 1970s. She vividly describes how she almost died whilst filming Empire Of The Ants and her two year battle to find a backer for The Stud - a film based on her sister Jackie’s raunchy novel and set in London’s Tramp nightclub. She celebrates the string of disco hits that featured on the soundtrack.
Joan talks about how her close friend, American TV producer Aaron Spelling, who invited her to play Cleopatra in his hit show Fantasy Island - a role she’d originally been offered by 20th Century Fox in the early ‘60s until she was replaced by friend and rival Elizabeth Taylor.
When it came to casting the role of Alexis Carrington in Dynasty, Spelling was adamant that Joan be given the part - despite the studio’s strong objections. Joan remembers how she prepared for the iconic ‘80s role: “I basically based my character a little bit on Donald Trump who I knew at the time, a feisty go-ahead businessman. I thought this will be good to use this as a basis for how my character is.”
Joan also describes the joys of spending time in St Tropez, which is the setting for her latest novel, St Tropez Lonely Hearts Club, as well as performing in panto with close friend Julian Clary, and becoming a real-life Dame in March 2015. With contributions from Sir Roger Moore, Stephanie Beacham, David Hasselhoff, Julian Clary and David Emanuel.