The Guardian’s review of Joan Collins – A Life In Lipstick (BBC Radio 2)
It’s everything a celebrity profile should be as Collins slips out controlled confessions and snippets of gossip, all wrapped up in a very glamorous life philosophy.
Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper, Ava Gardner: no name from Hollywood’s golden era is left undropped in Joan Collins – A Life in Lipstick (Radio 2). If this two-parter came alive, it would reach out of the radio with perfectly manicured red nails and raise a glass to a great existence. It’s everything a celebrity profile should be as Collins slips out controlled confessions and snippets of gossip, all wrapped up in a very glamorous life philosophy.
Collins narrates her own story, touching on her early life when she picked up shrapnel during the war and was evacuated to Bognor Regis. She grew up to be “the coffee bar Jezebel” who left Rada at 17 for a career in films and became the antidote to the frail, blond English rose. There are glorious tales of Hollywood in the days when the press were respectful and stars still dressed up. She dated Warren Beatty. “He wasn’t that beautiful,” she shrugs. “He had spots.” Wifely life wasn’t for her, but she describes life with Anthony Newley as “the children, a lot of fun and a lot of parties”. Sure, she’s had more husbands than most, but she justifies it simply. “Life’s short and life is very sweet and it’s not going to be too sweet if you’re saddled with a man that makes you sick.” This is a woman who gives good philosophical soundbite.
The second part of the documentary is where Collins comes into her own as she busts through the age barrier and makes her grand comeback in Dynasty. Back in the 80s, 35 was considered old in Hollywood, but Collins has the air of a woman who breezes through life’s barriers, not even realising she’s smashing them down. As a 45-year-old mother-of-three, she starred in risque flick The Stud. “Practically every actress at that time was taking off their clothes,” she says, dismissively. “I bore the brunt of sizzling disgrace.”
And then came that big, soapy break. “When Joan walked into Dynasty, she ate the furniture,” says Stephanie Beacham, her on-screen sparring partner. “She tore it up.” Collins played Alexis Carrington like a man and says she based the character on Donald Trump, facing a battle to make her likable. At 83, Collins is still bubbling along like a fine champagne, playing the showbiz game, letting out secrets and having a whole lot of fun..