An Evening With Dame Joan Collins

An Evening With Dame Joan Collins
Dubai Opera December 12th 2017

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Joan enjoyed lunch at New York's iconic restaurant Sardi's and was seated under her own caricature which was hung in 1992 when she was appearing on Broadway in 'Private Lives'...

Monday, November 13, 2017


Leslie Bricusse and Yvonne Romain: Golden couple’s Hollywood greats

MEETING Leslie Bricusse leaves you in a kind of whirl, to quote his song My Kind Of Girl.

After a morning in the company of the acclaimed songwriter, lyricist and writer, alongside his wife Evie, you feel like you’ve journeyed through the past half-century of showbusiness as they recall the characters they’ve met during 59 years of marriage. 
“We must sound like a couple of old name-droppers,” laughs Evie who, as Yvonne Romain, had a successful acting career in TV and movies, eventually starring in Double Trouble opposite Elvis Presley. 
As we chat, Sir Michael Caine and a major theatre producer call the Bricusses in their elegant Thames-side flat. 
They really do know the best people.  
It really was the golden era when we first moved there, to Hollywood
Leslie Bricusse
Leslie’s extraordinary career meant that he has worked with the greatest talents and wrote some of the greatest show songs. 
Compositions include What Kind Of Fool Am I?, The Candy Man, Pure Imagination (the last two from 1971’s Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory) and Feeling Good, all co-written with collaborator Anthony Newley. 
He wrote the music – including Talk To The Animals – for Doctor Dolittle, co-wrote Bond themes Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice, and has written the musicals Stop The World, I Want To Get Off, Sherlock Holmes and Victor/Victoria, among many others. 
Bricusse is now 86 and busy as ever, with one of his current projects being a revival of his musical Scrooge – co-written with Newley as a movie starring Albert Finney – at Curve in Leicester, which he says he’s been involved with “mainly on the phone so far”.
He adds: “Producer Bill Kenwright has staged a number of productions starring Tommy Steele and when he stopped doing it, producers Michael Harrison and Ian David took over. 
They know about doing pantomime, so they really understand Christmas.” 
The show, with Jasper Britton as Dickens’s famous miser, has one big change: the ghost of Marley is played by actress Karen Mann. 
“I’ve written an extra scene to suggest the character might be the ghost of Scrooge’s mother – it is all a fantasy drama after all. 
"The audience can take it as they wish but, whatever, it won’t spoil the show.” 
Bricusse is also working on a musical about his friend Sammy Davis Jr, which will star Giles Terera: “We did Sammy six months ago at The Other Palace in London and he was brilliant in it.  
Leslie with Joan
"But six months ago he was offered a leading role in Hamilton [the Broadway smash opening in London next month] and he said he was prepared to do Sammy and not Hamilton. 
"I said, ‘Are you crazy? I know it means putting the show back a year but you’ve got to do Hamilton’. 
"So we’re looking at spring 2019 for Sammy.” 
It’s clear that Bricusse feels a great loyalty towards Davis. 
He recorded 60 of his songs including The Candy Man, which gave Davis his first No1. 
“It was so long in coming!” laughs Bricusse.
  “He used to call us every week and go, ‘It’s 18!’, ‘It’s 14!’, ‘It’s 12!’ before it got to number one. 
"That was the whole conversation!” 
Bricusse’s musical career started at Cambridge when he brought the first Footlights Club revue to the West End. 
He was spotted by musical comedy star Beatrice Lillie who asked him to be her leading man and write material for her. 
It was the making of him: “I got the job because her leading man on Broadway couldn’t come over as he owed an ex-wife 28 years of alimony. 
“Auntie Bea sort of adopted me; she lost her son in the Second World War and when Evie and I went on honeymoon we photographed her son’s grave in the war cemetery – she’d never seen it before.”  
Bricusse and Newley wrote their musical Stop The World, I Want To Get Off while staying with Beatrice in New York and then moved on to – and conquered – Hollywood. 
“It really was the golden era when we first moved there,” he recalls. 
“When Evie and I went, Anthony had teamed up with Joan Collins and the four of us all became best friends. 
"Joan had a house off Sunset Boulevard and she put us through what seemed like a marine sergeant’s drill in the form of going to parties and meeting wonderful people. 
"I think we saw more people in those first two weeks than we have since!” 
The Bricusses and Michael Caine used to take it in turns to host “the British refugees” in their Hollywood homes and he shows me a photograph taken during those happy times.  
“That’s Christopher Lee, Samantha Eggar, Jackie Collins, Joan, Anthony Newley, David Niven Jr, David Hemmings...” 
Their particular close friend was Sir Roger Moore, who died this year. 
“He was such a darling. 
"I still miss him every day,” says Evie. 
“He was our best friend for 50 years,” reflects her husband. 
“It started when Evie did The Saint with him; and we were neighbours in four countries over the years.  
"I made a speech at his funeral in Monaco and said, ‘If Roger had a fault it was that he was perfect. 
"Other than that, he was perfect’.” 
Leslie & Evie with Newley & Joan & Beatrice Lilly

But while they reflect on friends who have gone, they’re very much a forward-looking couple. 
As well as Leslie’s ongoing musical projects, which include productions of his musicals Sherlock Holmes and Cyrano de Bergerac in South Korea and China, they enjoy the company of their artist son Adam and two grandsons. 
One wants to be a movie director. 
They are also friends with rock legend Sir Rod Stewart, who is a neighbour at their South of France home, and they dine with Sir Elton John. 
But no matter how many friends they have, international superstars or otherwise, you feel that Leslie and Evie Bricusse are still each other’s best friends.  
“We met when Freddie Raphael and I helped a friend with a terrible musical called Jubilee Girl,” remembers Bricusse. 
“In the show was a girl named Vilma Ann Leslie who called saying, ‘I’ve just started on a film and in that film is the girl of your dreams’. 
"And Vilma delivered her to my door!” 
 Leslie Bricusse’s Scrooge The Musical is at Leicester’s Curve from November 18 to January 7. 
For details, call 0116 242 3595 or go to

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Joan is one of the guests on the latest series of 'In Conversation With John Bishop' on The W Channel .. You can catch Joan's episode Tonight November 9th at 9pm with a repeat showing on November 11th at 8pm.
  • Episode Summary: Golden Globe-winning actress Dame Joan discusses her early success in Britain as star of stage and screen; her move to Hollywood at aged 22, negotiating her salary with studio bosses at Twentieth Century Fox and winning a pivotal film role over Marilyn Monroe. John also talks to Dame Joan about her close relationship with her late sister, novelist Jackie Collins, the resurgence of her career starring on TV in iconic 80s soap opera Dynasty, and speaks candidly on marriage, heartache, being a mother and grandmother, and life with her soulmate, husband Percy.

  • SkyChannel 109 (SD/HD)
    Channel 213 (+1)
    Channel 245 (SD)
    Virgin MediaChannel 125
    Channel 131 (+1)
    Channel 191 (HD)
    WightFibreChannel 112
    Virgin Media IrelandChannel 512
    BTChannel 311
    Channel 383 (HD)
    TalkTalk TVChannel 311
    PlusnetChannel 311

Saturday, November 4, 2017



Dynasty dressing is back, dahlings! Fashionistas sneered for years at those over-the-top shoulder pads. How delicious, says JOAN COLLINS, to see Alexis's style on the High Street..

Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford was never seen without them. Nor, for that matter, was the elegant Greer Garson. Even Ingrid Bergman, who made them look demure and lady-like in Casablanca, loved them.
During World War II, every woman wore a pair, even underneath their everyday outfits. I’m talking, of course, about shoulder pads.
For years, fashionistas and glossy magazines have been turning up their noses at a style that has been one of history’s most flattering and feminine. I’ve no idea why.
After all, wide shoulders accentuate the waist and hips and give a marvellously sleek silhouette. Those early screen idols knew that all too well, and their images remain iconic and timeless.
Alexis (Top left) stole the show in a glorious violet blazer. Fall back in love with shoulder pads for that flattering, feminine shape. Blazer, £21,; Suede belt, £59,; Skirt, £235, Paule Ka at 
Alexis wore this fuchsia satin dress while making a martini in a 1984 episode. (Bottom Left) It’s so very Dynasty. Dress, £20,; Necklace, £15, marks
So I’m delighted that many twalks and High Street stores are a glorious riot of power dressing. Brace yourself, ladies. Dynasty fashion is back.
For me, of course, it never went away. I will always remember the time when, in the early Eighties, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin sent their models down the runway in dresses and jackets with huge, padded shoulders and massive, billowing sleeves. Suddenly the fashion world sat up and took notice. And so did I.
I had just started shooting a rather unsuccessful series on ABC called Dynasty. It was way down in the ratings and about to be cancelled. According to my agent, this would be a six-week gig — ‘but, maybe, if ratings pick up, you might get six months out of it’.
So off I flew to LA with a new Saint Laurent tuxedo jacket in my suitcase, plus my usual excess baggage.
At my first fitting for the then relatively minor role of Alexis Morell Carrington, the stylist showed me some neat little suits with June Allyson collars, some silk shirts (like the ones worn on Charlie’s Angels) and a couple of boring faux-Chanel tweeds.
‘These aren’t right for this character,’ I insisted. ‘She’s a sophisticate, a jet-setter. She wants to become powerful. She needs to wear haute couture and gloves, veils, hats and shoulder pads.’
A sharp yet feminine style (top Left) — just tone down the lapels. Blazer, £30,; Shirt, £153.61,; Skirt, £99, hob
A structured silhouette is a classic Dynasty look (Bottom Left), and the ruffles add extra drama. Dress, £55,; Earrings, £8,
Reluctantly, the stylist called in Nolan Miller, super designer to the stars. When I showed him my YSL jacket he was totally enthusiastic, particularly about the shoulder pads.
And so began a wonderful, decade-long collaboration between the talented Mr Miller and I. We agreed on everything — Alexis and Nolan adored sequins, cleavage, fur, gauntlet gloves, massive diamonds and hats; big ones or small ones, fur or lace, veiled or big-brimmed, berets and even pillboxes.
This soon became the Dynasty ‘look’, which also included big belts, small waists and stilettos. We loved thick, excessively embroidered jackets and coats, pencil skirts, strapless gowns and thigh-high boots. In fact, we loved everything that almost all designers are showing on the runways today.
And because audiences fell in love with this new look, Dynasty shot up in the ratings. In less than two years, it became the No 1 show on TV.
Was Alexis ahead of her time? Not at all. Actresses had been wearing these outfits since the first black-and-white films flickered on to the silver screen.
Think Jean Harlow in her slithery, white satin dress and feathered boas in Dinner At Eight; Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce; Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity; and Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Alexis wore this timeless, floor-length, gold lame dress in 1982 (Top left), when it caught Bette Davis’s eye. Dress, £70,; Shoes, £29,; Cuff, £29,
This sequined silver bolero had shoulder pads to die for.(Bottom left) Team a modern version with a metallic skirt for maximum impact. Jacket,
 It was from these iconic stars that Nolan and I drew our inspiration for Alexis, who, as she grew more powerful, eventually became Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan.
Some of our other influences were Princess Diana in the early days of her marriage to Prince Charles, and most of the couturiers of the Eighties, such as Herve Leger, Azzedine Alaia, Christian Lacroix and Versace. But it was those shoulder pads that seemed to define the decade.
Krystal (Linda Evans) and I often wore silk or satin knee-length dresses, cinched at the waist and with the obligatory padded shoulders. They were amazingly flattering and are still a staple of many a well-dressed woman’s wardrobe today.
So, too, are the big-shouldered jackets often featured by Balenciaga and Balmain and, of course, YSL, whose iconic tuxedo still reigns.
To be honest, most fashion recently has left me cold and almost certainly never would have featured on Dynasty. Striped socks and trainers worn with ball gowns, oversized, geometrically-structured pieces, clashing colours and jeans with holes — don’t get me started on those!
Whenever I see Theresa May in an above-the-knee, unconstructed frock looking overpowered by the men around her — all of whom are wearing suits with padded shoulders — I wish she would start wearing Alexis power suits, like Baroness Thatcher did. It would make a huge difference to her confidence.
I admit that after a few seasons, Dynasty fashion went overboard. Aaron Spelling, our producer, wanted Alexis to be the most powerful and stylish character. But when Diahann Carroll, who played my enemy Dominique Deveraux, came along, she demanded fur hats, diamonds and sumptuous ball gowns with massive sleeves.
The inevitable result was that my outfits became more outrageous and over-the-top. We should have signed some sort of non-proliferation treaty, because shoulder pads became weapons of mass distraction. When I crossed the line by wearing a suit with enormous padding and huge butterfly detail, Spelling barked: ‘Never wear that again. We want to see your f****** face!’
But it wasn’t all about shoulder pads. One of my favourite gowns was made of gold lame, draped and cinched, Grecian-style, at the waist, cut dangerously low in front and slit to the thigh. I wore it to the fabulous variety special Night Of 100 Stars in New York, where I shared a dressing room with, amongst others, the intimidating legend Bette Davis.
Sitting backstage, I became aware that Bette was staring at me. She drew deeply on her cigarette and then, blowing a blast of smoke in my face, said: ‘You almost have the dress on, m’dear.’
Yes, it was revealing, but it was also elegant, which is more than I can say for many of the outfits seen on the red carpet today.
‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it,’ is what I should have said, though the credo of some celebs — flashing side-boob, bottoms and ever-climbing slits — seems to be closer to ‘the sky’s the limit’.
Some of us did flaunt it in the Dynasty years, but I still believe our fashions were flattering, stylish and most of all fun.
So bring out the shoulder pads — and unleash your inner Alexis!
Recreate this classic look from the early Eighties with a modern twist  (Top left)— wide-leg trousers. Jacket, £25,; Top, £9.50, marksand; Trousers, £11,; Shoes, £29,
This huge hat and scarf frame the face. Try a faux fur design — these days they’re just as good as Alexis’s real thing! (Bottom left) Hat, £35,; Stole, £69,

Friday, November 3, 2017


Joan with Amanda Holden & ITV Fundraiser winner Dan Coates
Tune into ITV1 on Tuesday 7th November at 8pm to catch Joan's appearance as she presented The ITV Fundraiser Award to Dan Coates..
Joan chats with Prince William along with Rod Stewart & his wife Penny

Thursday, November 2, 2017


The heat is on this December as Joan makes an exclusive appearance at Dubai Opera with this seasons hottest show 'An Evening With Dame Joan Collins'..
Book your ticket now...For the show of a lifetime!!
The following link!

Actress, philanthropist and best-selling author, Dame Joan will grace the Dubai Opera stage in her new show that allows audiences to ask questions they have always wanted to know the answers to. 
An Evening with Dame Joan Collins will see audiences enthralled as Dame Joan reveals some of the exciting stories and secrets from her long career 
The show puts Dame Joan centre stage and gives audiences the opportunity to have an intimate chat with the world famous actress. The show takes it lead from the audiences' questions and allows Dame Joan to explore her career, the roles (and the men!) of her life. The production also features never before seen footage from her legendary career.  

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Joan as Madame DuBarry & Percy as Maximilien Fran├žois Marie Isidore de Robespierre
Joan dressed to impress as she attended Jonathan Ross's annual Halloween Party with Percy held at Ross's London home.

Monday, October 30, 2017


Joan looking sensational on the red carpet for The Pride Of Britain Awards the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.. You can catch the show on ITV1 on Tuesday November 7th at 8pm..
Joan & Percy catch up with Rod Stewart & Penny Lancaster


Delighted to announce that Joan's latest film will soon be available to view in the USA via iTunes and platforms such as Comcast, Googleplay, Youtube & Vimeo..
You can however preorder now on itunes at the following link for November 28th!
Pre-order 'The Time Of Their Lives' now!

Saturday, October 28, 2017


As the witching hours approach with the impending arrival of Halloween.. The Joan Collins Archive wishes you all a most spooky celebrations... Joan is getting into the Act with murderous thoughts on her mind and a spell or two to Cast for that next big project!  Happy Halloween Everyone! Or should that be Have a Horribly Horrifying One!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the wedding of The Queen & Prince Philip, a new ITV special hosted by Alexander Armstrong, features contributions from Joan along with Sheila Hancock. The show airs at 9pm Monday October 30th on ITV1..
A Very Royal Wedding celebrates the 70th anniversary of The Queen and Prince Philip’s marriage in November 1947.
Presenter Alexander Armstrong discovers how a battered post-war Britain pulled off the wedding of the century against the odds.
This feature-length documentary includes contributions from Joan Collins and Sheila Hancock, sharing their memories of the wedding, as well as revealing insights from those who were part of the big day, such as page boy Prince Michael of Kent.
This was “the people’s wedding” and Alexander will meet the ordinary people who made this such a special occasion, including one of the seamstresses responsible for the spectacular wedding dress.
Alexander will also see up close recreations of The Queen’s exquisite 3-carat diamond engagement ring, her beautiful wedding bouquet and her show-stopping 9ft high, 500lb wedding cake.
The film features stunning colour archive of the wedding as well as The Queen’s private home movie footage of the day.  

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Joan has the selfie look with Valentino & Carlos Souza
It was a big celebration at Claridge's for Valentino as he accepted the prestigious Academy of Achievement Award.. Joan was in attendence to help her good friend celebrate along with Tamara Beckwith, Simon & Yasmin LeBon & Suzy Menkes
Valentino accepts the award from Jeremy Irons

Joan catches up with Giancarlo Giammetti

Valentino had his cake.. and they ate it too!

Monday, October 16, 2017


Joan with Philip & Holly
Joan was invited to appear earlier today on 'This Morning' to discuss her experiences with various male producers and fellow actors over the course of her lengthy career in the biz in light of the current Harvey Weinstein controversy..


Bond producers Michael G Wilson & Barbara Brocolli address the gathering
Joan with Geoffrey & Christian & Adam Bricusse
Joan with Deborah Moore
A special celebration of the life and career of Roger Moore was held at Pinewod Studios yesterday which also included a  ceremony with The Countess of Wessex to officially open a sondstage named after him.. Also in attendance were Michael Caine, Tim Rice, Leslie & Evie
Joan with fond memories of her dear friend.
Bricusse & Stefanie Powers along with Rogers Sons Geoffrey & Christian, daughter Deborah and wife Kristina.

Joan with Christian Moore & Stefanie Powers

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Hollywood's casting couch and why I lost my part as Cleopatra to Liz Taylor: JOAN COLLINS recalls hiding in wardrobes, dodging naked producers and heeding Marilyn's warning that all studio bosses were 'wolves'

  • When Joan Collins was 21, Marilyn Monroe poured out a cautionary tale of sexual harassment she and other actresses endured from ‘the wolves in this town’
  • Just days after Marilyn's warning, the actress was propositioned by Darryl Zanuck, the vice-president of production at 20th Century Fox
  • The meteoric descent of Harvey Weinstein has brought back memories for her
Shortly after arriving in Hollywood aged 21, under contract to 20th Century Fox, I attended a party at Gene Kelly’s house.
The star of An American In Paris and Singin’ In The Rain hosted a weekly gathering for an eclectic group of movie industry power-brokers, A-list actors and actresses, intellectuals and his friends. It was where I first met Marilyn Monroe.
At first I didn’t recognise the blonde sitting alone at the bar until she turned to me and said rather ruefully: ‘They wanted me for the lead in Red Velvet Swing, but I’m too old.’
Joan in 'The Girl In The Red Velvet Swing'
The part of Evelyn Nesbit in The Girl In The Red Velvet Swing was one of my first lead roles in Hollywood, but I knew it had originally been intended for Monroe.
Suddenly, it dawned on me that the woman in front of me was the legendary figure herself.
We started chatting and after a couple of martinis, Marilyn poured out a cautionary tale of sexual harassment she and other actresses endured from ‘the wolves in this town’.
I replied that I was weAs a 17-year-old straight out of RADA and playing my first leading role, I’d experienced a torrent of sexual harassment and the kind of behaviour that today is classed as abuse.
When I confided in an older actress on set at Ealing Studios, she told me to ‘like it or get out of the business’.
‘That’s the way it is. I know they didn’t teach you about it at drama school but you’ll just have to put up with it, I’m afraid . . .’
I decided it definitely wasn’t something I’d put up with. I told Marilyn I was well prepared to deal with men patting my bottom, leering down my cleavage and whatever else.
She shook her head. ‘There’s nothing like the power of the studio bosses here, honey. If they don’t get what they want, they’ll drop you. It’s happened to lots of gals.
’Specially watch out for Zanuck. If he doesn’t get what he wants, honey, he’ll drop your contract.’
It was a timely warning, because days later, Darryl Zanuck, vice-president of production at 20th Century Fox, pounced.
Breathing cigar fumes over me, he hissed: ‘You haven’t had anyone until you’ve had me, baby. I’m the biggest and the best and I can go all night.’ I was so shocked I couldn’t speak, so I just wriggled free of his groping hands and ran back to the set.
Later, I was glad that I’d said nothing. I heard that a starlet he’d tried to seduce had recently been fired because when he began his spiel with: ‘Baby, I’m the biggest in the business . . .’ etc, she’d fired back saying: ‘You better be, honey, ’cause you’re only five foot-two!’
Joan on location for 'Island In The Sun' with James Mason , Daryl Zanuck, Ronald Squire & Patricia Owens
And I can confirm that it wasn’t just the stuff of legend that he had a golden replica of his manhood on his desk as a paperweight. I saw it — ugh!
Now the events of the past week — the meteoric descent of Harvey Weinstein from the pinnacle of power in Tinseltown to his humiliating exile into rehab for his so-called ‘sex addiction’ — has brought back these memories.
Then, as now, a conspiracy of silence hung over the casting couch, and the bullying and sexual assaults young actresses were routinely subjected to. Speak out and your career was often over before it had begun.
My first encounter with the casting couch was in the early Fifties.
I had been signed by the Rank Organisation and was testing for a juvenile lead role in a film called I Believe In You.
I dodged one producer’s advances by hiding in a wardrobe in the costume department, helped by sympathetic dressers, and waiting until he left the studio before taking the bus and Tube home. But after my third test he trapped me and persuaded me to get a lift home in his flashy car.
On the way, he grabbed my hand and put it on his open fly. I screamed in horror and yanked my hand away. I’d never seen a naked man before, let alone touched one.
‘What’s the matter? Don’t you want the part?’ he leered.
‘Not this much,’ I said, then burst into tears as I realised I’d ruined my chances. Luckily, he was overruled by the director, so I got the role despite the threats.
However, he continued to pursue me, and when I told him I wasn’t interested and was still a virgin, he called me a ‘frigid little b****’.
And when I went to the U.S. I discovered that it was just as Marilyn had warned me.
Hollywood studio bosses considered it their due to b*** all the good-looking women who came their way and were notorious for it. Harry Cohn at Columbia Pictures, for example, had no qualms about firing any starlet who rejected him. He was totally amoral.
When his leading contractee, Kim Novak, had an affair with Sammy Davis Jr. — who had recently lost an eye in a car crash — Cohn threatened to have ‘the other eye taken out’ if he didn’t stop seeing her. Cohn was so powerful that Sammy did stop and hurriedly married someone else.
At Warner Brothers, the president of the studios, Jack Warner, fancied himself an attractive bon vivant. A snappy dresser and massive flirt, he threw glittering parties where one night he propositioned me, openly bragging about his conquests, which seemed to include every actress on the Warner lot and many from MGM, too. He was amazed when I didn’t submit.
When I was in New York, my agent secured me an interview with a famous producer for a role I really wanted.
I dutifully went to his office at 6pm, and as I arrived, his secretary was just leaving. ‘He’s in there,’ she pointed to a back room. ‘He’s waiting for you.’
I found myself in a bedroom, then a voice called: ‘Come on in,’ from another room. I walked in and there he was in the bath without even bubbles to cover his embarrassment — with which he was tinkering. ‘Sit down,’ he commanded, gesturing to the end of the bath.
‘Oh, I’m OK, I’ll stand,’ I replied.
‘Come on in,’ he grinned. ‘The water’s fine.’
‘Oh, ah, no thanks,’ I replied weakly. I tried not to shudder and tried not to notice what he was doing to himself.
After a few minutes’ chat about the role, which I argued was right for me as she was an English girl, he agreed I would be perfect.
Then he again insisted I share his bath. ‘I must go — I’ve got a date with my boyfriend,’ I stammered, aware there was no way I’d get the part now. ‘Who’s your boyfriend?’ he asked.
Joan with Warren Beatty
‘You wouldn’t know him. He’s a young actor — Warren Beatty.’
‘What are you doing wasting your time with unknown actors for?’ he said irritably.
‘I’m an important man, we can have some fun. By the way, how old are you?’ ‘Twenty-five,’ I muttered. ‘Twenty-five, huh? That’s not young in this business any more, sweetie.’ I stared at his ugly 55-year-old face, turned and left.
He called after me: ‘You won’t get much further in this business, kid, if you’re going to be so high-hat!’
Another role I coveted was that of Cleopatra. The head of 20th Century Fox at the time, Buddy Adler, and the chairman of the board — a Greek gentleman old enough to be my grandfather — bombarded me with propositions and promises that the role was mine if I would be ‘nice’ to them.
It was a euphemism prevalent in Hollywood. I couldn’t and I wouldn’t — the very thought of these old men was utterly repugnant. So, I dodged and I dived, and hid from them around the lot and made excuses while undergoing endless screen tests for the role of Egypt’s Queen.
At one point, Mr Adler told me at a party that I would have ‘the pick of the scripts’ after Cleopatra and he would set me up in an apartment he would pay for as long as he could come to visit me three or four times a week.
Running out of excuses, I blurted out: ‘Mr Adler, I came here with my agent, Jay Kanter. Why don’t we discuss the deal with him?’
‘Honey, you have quite a sense of humour,’ he spluttered.
‘And a sense of humour is all you’ll ever get from me,’ I murmured as I left. In due course, Elizabeth Taylor got the role.
But it wasn’t just studio bosses and producers who were predatory. Many actors I worked with considered it their divine right to have sex with their leading lady.
During my early days in Hollywood, I repeatedly said ‘no’ to the handsome, if short, Irish-born actor Richard Todd.
One night he followed my car and when I stopped at the studio exit gate, he shouted at the top of his lungs: ‘You stupid cow — you’ll be washed up by the time you’re 23!” I ignored him. I was under contract and on a good salary, so I felt reasonably safe until I hit 27 — widely deemed by studio bosses to be the age when women lost their sexual attraction.
Richard Burton was another actor with designs on his female co-stars. While on location in Jamaica together for the 1957 film Sea Wife, Richard told me that if I didn’t go to bed with him, I would ‘break his record’.
“What’s that?” I asked.
‘I’ve slept with all my leading ladies,’ he bragged.
‘Well, I’m not going to be another notch on your well-punched belt, so I guess I’m going to break your record!’ He barely spoke to me for the rest of filming.
George Peppard, who had starred with Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, dished out similar treatment. In 1969 we were making the spy thriller, The Executioner, and after attending a party to celebrate the start of filming he offered to drop me home — then tried to grab me at my front door.
When I pushed him away, telling him I was married and had two small children, he accused me of being ‘totally square’.
Like Burton before him, he didn’t speak to me for the rest of the movie, and since I had to do a couple of topless scenes with him, it was embarrassing to say the least.
Another actor whose ego out-paced his talent was Gene Barry, who had starred in The War Of The Worlds. In one kissing scene, he tried the old tongue routine, which I wouldn’t permit.
Joan with Richard Burton in 'Sea Wife'
Are you frigid?’ he hissed.
It wasn’t the first time I had been called that by men who thought that because they were rich and powerful, women were just their playthings. I’ve also been called a c**k-teaser, a shameless flirt and a cold, heartless b****.
Anyone naive enough to believe the era of the casting couch had been consigned to history will have been shocked by the Weinstein scandal and the predatory institutional sexism of Hollywood power brokers it has revealed.
But it’s not just the film industry that’s been complicit in sanctioning this appalling behaviour, and it’s not just actresses subjected to it. It may occur in any business dominated by powerful, ruthless and misogynistic men, and it’s women (sometimes men) in subservient positions who are unfortunate enough to have to deal with them.
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. As my late sister, Jackie, a Hollywood observer and insider, once said: ‘Most men in this town have their brains in their d***s.’