From the archive: Joan Collins and the Oxford don, 1990

Peter Conrad meets the Dynasty star as she prepares to return to London

Peter Conrad’s interview with Joan Collins was presented as a meeting between low and high culture (‘Joan Collins and the Don from Oxford’, 29 April 1990), which rather sold Collins’s obvious intelligence and sense of humour some way short.

Having recently finished her decade-long stint as Alexis Carrington Colby in Dynasty, Collins was returning to England to be in two Coward plays, Easy Virtue on TV and Private Lives in the West End. ‘You don’t dare make jokes here,’ she said. ‘They all take everything so seriously. I’m too cynical, and too incendiary. That’s why I long to get back to the theatre, where everyone sends everyone up all the time.’

Conrad met Collins in her opulent LA home and highlighted the similarities with her Dynasty character: ‘My feet sank through white rugs, as if into sand dunes; when I sat on the sofa, its white, over-stuffed cushions closed over me like surf breakers. This was a lair for Alexis to stride through, chomping a celery stick and plotting devilment while she runs a lacquered fingernail down Dex’s pecs.’

‘This was my Dynasty house,’ agreed Collins. ‘I wanted to have a house like this, just once. It’s very important to me aesthetically to be surrounded by beauty.’ But the house was now for sale. ‘I’ve done this effect, now I need somewhere smaller.’

Despite Alexis’s vices, Collins defended her. ‘The people who attacked her were just frightened because she was powerful. Women are still such second-class citizens.’

‘As Alexis,’ wrote Conrad, ‘she seemed always to be slyly mocking the character, while her American colleagues toiled through their roles with grim earnestness… Collins loses no chance to tease the self-importance of Hollywood.’

Conrad manages to sneeze on Collins’s shoulder while sniffing her own perfume, Spectacular. ‘Having had all those glasses of water poured over her by Leonard Rossiter in their Cinzano commercials,’ he wrote, ‘she dried herself off like the uncomplaining trouper she is.’

Contributor

Chris Hall

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
From the archive: Spitting Image takes on the USA, 1986
An all-new all-American cast of the scurrilous puppets takes to the airwaves. By Chris Hall

Chris Hall

01, Nov, 2020 @6:00 AM

Article image
From the archive: Dick Emery's driving instructor days, 1973
Tales of the road before the comedian became famous

Chris Hall

26, Apr, 2020 @5:00 AM

Article image
From the archive: in search of Sherlock Holmes, January 1974
Letters were still pouring in at 221B Baker Street, someone had to answer them. By Chris Hall

Chris Hall

05, Jul, 2020 @5:00 AM

Article image
From the archive: is British TV the best in the world?
From apartheid South Africa to Australia, the US and Japan, Peter Batty found little to match public service television at home in 1975

Chris Hall

02, Jun, 2019 @5:00 AM

Article image
From the archive: the genius of Eric Morecambe
Theatre critic Kenneth Tynan celebrates the funny straight man – one of British television’s comedy masters

Chris Hall

12, Apr, 2020 @5:00 AM

Article image
From the archive: Norman Mailer meets Clint Eastwood in 1984
The novelist writes admiringly of the actor – even suggesting he’d make a good politician

Chris Hall

05, Jan, 2020 @6:00 AM

Article image
From the archive: gazing into Paul Newman’s blue eyes, 1986
A celebration of the return of the hustler, this time starring in The Color of Money. By Chris Hall

Chris Hall

26, Sep, 2021 @5:00 AM

Article image
From the archive: looking back at Greta Garbo’s private world, 1979
The actor knew she could never really be happy, but somehow she got by in her pink apartment in New York

Chris Hall

29, Aug, 2021 @5:00 AM

Article image
From the archive: the inside story of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rise to power
In 1991 the Observer Magazine’s cover story provided a unique blend of muscle, ambition and Nietzschean philosophy

Chris Hall

17, Nov, 2019 @6:00 AM

Article image
From the archive: Maggie Smith at Cinecittà, 1966
The charismatic actor grants an audience on the Honey Pot set. By Chris Hall

Chris Hall

30, May, 2021 @5:00 AM