Joan Henrietta Collins, OBE (born 23 May 1933), is a British actress, author and columnist. Born in Paddington and brought up in Maida Vale, Collins grew up during the Second World War. After making her stage debut in A Doll's House at the age of 9, she was trained as an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. After eighteen months at the drama school, she was signed to an exclusive contract by the Rank Organisation and appeared in various British films.
At the age of 22, Collins headed to Hollywood and landed sultry roles in several popular films, including The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955) and Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1958). While she continued to make films in the US and the UK throughout the 1960s, her career languished in the 1970s, where she appeared in a number of horror flicks. Near the end of the decade, she starred in two films based on best-selling novels by her younger sister Jackie Collins: The Stud (1978) and its sequel The Bitch (1979). Returning to her theatrical roots, she played the title role in the 1980 British revival of The Last of Mrs. Cheyney and later had a lead role in the 1990 revival of Noël Coward's Private Lives. In 1981, Collins landed Alexis Carrington Colby, the role for which she is perhaps best known, in the long-running 1980s television soap opera Dynasty.
By the time the soap opera had been cancelled, Collins followed in her sister's footsteps and published her first novel Prime Time (1988) which became a bestseller despite critical pans. Despite a protracted legal battle with Random House in 1996, she has since published many books: both fictional, non-fictional and autobiographical. Flamboyant in her personal life and in roles she pursues, Collins continues to act in theatre, film and television in a career that has spanned more than 60 years.
Collins was born in Paddington, London, the daughter of Elsa Collins (née Bessant), a dance teacher and nightclub hostess, and Joseph William Collins (died 1988), an agent whose clients would later include Shirley Bassey, the Beatles and Tom Jones. Her father, a native of South Africa, was Jewish, and her British mother was Anglican. She has one sister, author Jackie Collins, and one brother, Bill Collins. Joan was educated at the Francis Holland School and then trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).Collins in I Believe in You(1952)
Collins has been married five times, firstly to Irish actor Maxwell Reed, whom she married on 24 May 1952 and divorced in 1956. Collins married award-winning singer, actor and film composer Anthony Newley on 27 May 1963. She and Newley had two children, a daughter Tara Cynara Newley and a son, Alexander Anthony "Sacha" Newley. Collins and Newley divorced in 1970. In March 1972, Collins married her third husband Ron Kass, who had been the president of Apple Records during the reign of the Beatles. During their marriage Collins had her third and final child, a daughter, Katyana Kennedy Kass. Collins's marriage to Kass ended in divorce in 1983, although they remained very close until his death from cancer in 1986. At the height of Dynasty's popularity on 3 November 1985, Collins married Swedish singer Peter Holm in a ceremony in Las Vegas. They were divorced on 25 August 1987, with the lengthy divorce proceedings garnering significant media attention, prompting Collins to quip, "I don't need a husband, I need a wife" and that Holm was "a bit of a loser", with Collins successfully enforcing her prenuptial agreement. In 2001 Collins met theatrical company manager Percy Gibson, 32 years her junior. They married on 17 February 2002 at Claridge's Hotel in London and later renewed their vows in 2009. The pair also appeared as contestants on the Christmas Day edition of the ITV game show All Star Mr. & Mrs. in 2009.
By her daughter Tara Newley, Collins has two grandchildren and by her son Sacha Newley has a further grandchild.
After decades of flirting with British politics, on 24 May 2004 Collins joined the United Kingdom Independence Party.
In early 2005 Collins commented that she had rejoined the Conservative Party stating, "The Labour Party doesn't care about the British people."
She also continues to contribute as The Spectator magazine guest diarist, something she has done since the late 1990s. Collins also writes occasionally for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Lady, and in the USA,Harper's Bazaar. In September 2008, Collins signed on to the Sunday Telegraph as a weekly opinions columnist through the final quarter of the year before leaving to pursue other projects.
She has commented that she was a huge supporter of former prime minister, Margaret Thatcher and was one of the handful of guests to be invited to her funeral on April 17, 2013. Collins is also a staunch monarchist, stating "I'm a big monarchist and I love the Queen."
Collins has publicly supported several charities for several decades. In 1982, Collins spoke before the U.S. Congress about increasing funding for neurological research. In 1983, she was named a patron of the International Foundation for Children with Learning Disabilities, earning the foundation's highest honour in 1988 for her continuing support. Additionally, 1988 also saw the opening of the Joan Collins Wing of the Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, Michigan, USA. In 1990, she was made an honorary founding member of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. In 1994 Collins was awarded the lifetime achievement award from the Association of Breast Cancer Studies in Great Britain for her contribution to breast cancer awareness in the UK. Collins is patron of Fight for Sight, in 2003, she became a patron of the Shooting Star Children's Hospice in Great Britain while continuing to support several foster children in India; something she has done for the past 25 years. Collins serves her former school, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, as the Honorary President of the RADA Associates.