The iconic 88-year-old celebrity is famous for her glamorous appearance, both in her acting roles and in real life.
Collins’ private life has always been the subject of plenty of media attention, as she has been married five times. The mother-of-three, she has luxury homes in London, New York, Los Angeles and France.
Renowned for her philanthropic ventures, she has supported multiple charities for decades, including breast cancer research; the Foundation for Children with Learning Disabilities; the NSPCC, Shooting Star Chase Children’s Hospice; and many more.
As a successful author and columnist, she has written best-selling novels such as Love, and Desire and Hate. To date, her books have sold more than 50 million copies and have been translated into around 30 languages.
Road to stardom
Born in May 1933 in Paddington, London, the daughter of talent agent Joseph and dance teacher Elsa Collins, Collins had two younger siblings; the late novelist Jackie; and property agent Bill, now 76. She went to a girls’ independent school, Francis Holland School, in London.
Interested in acting from an early age, Collins made her debut on stage at the age of nine, in the Henrik Ibsen play, A Doll’s House. She began training as an actress at 16 at the famous Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Her film career took off when Joan was 17 – she was signed to the British film studio, the Rank Organisation.
Her on-screen debut was a small role as a beauty contestant in the 1951 film, Lady Godiva Rides Again, starring Diana Dors. This was the first of many films Collins appeared in while signed for Rank. During her long career, she has made more than 30 films of various genres including drama, comedy and musicals.
In 1978, she starred in the film version of The Stud, based on her sister Jackie’s book. Costing around $600,000 to make, it brought in more than $20 million at the international box office, making it one of the most popular movies of the year.
She also appeared in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 1999; rom-com The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas in 2000; and the British road comedy, The Time of Their Lives, in 2017 – she was also executive producer.
Her most recent film, The Loss Adjuster, was a Christmas comedy in 2020. She is currently filming Tomorrow Morning, a musical about relationships, marriage and divorce, in which she plays the grandmother, Anna. It is due for release in 2022.
For all the success of her movie career however, Joan Collins is perhaps best known as the vindictive Alexis in the 80s hit TV show Dynasty.
Collins has great comic timing and her sense of fun seems almost at odds with the diva persona that the press have built up. The star says if she doesn’t send up her diva image “somebody else will”!
While some actors wouldn’t dream of doing an advert, Collins became famous for the Cinzano promotion in the 1970s and ’80s, with actor Leonard Rossiter. People would look forward to the next advert coming out, as Collins and Rossiter played a married couple in various comic sketches. Whatever the setting, it always ended up with Collins having Cinzano poured all over her! The adverts have been voted among the best ads of the past 50 years, after being created by Collett Dickenson Pearce. They are described as being from the “golden age of British advertising”.
Collins’ first marriage was to the 1940s movie idol Maxwell Reed in 1952, when she was 19. They divorced in 1956 and Joan went on to marry actor Anthony Newley in 1963. Following their divorce in 1971, she had two further failed marriages; to former Beatles’ manager Ronald Kass from 1972 to 1983; and Swedish singer Peter Holm from 1985 to 1987.
It appeared the star was destined to be unlucky in love… that is, of course, until Joan Collins met Percy Gibson at a book-signing event in San Francisco in 2000.
A theatre manager and Hollywood producer, Gibson is famous for the movies The Time of Our Lives; and Banksy’s Coming to Dinner; and the television quiz show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
The couple hit it off straight away, despite a 31-year age difference, as Collins was 67 and Gibson was 36. They became friends long before they became romantically linked. Collins said neither of them were looking for romance at the time. “It just sort of happened,” she admitted.
The star confessed to feeling a little worried at first, but her concerns didn’t last. The age gap didn’t become an issue, as Collins said she and her husband shared the same outlook on life. Describing him as her “soulmate”, she said, “Being with him feels so right.”
Comfortable with the 31-year age gap, Joan even made a joke about it when being interviewed. When she appeared on TV show Good Morning Britain in 2020, the star was asked about how things would have turned out if she’d met Gibson when in her 30s. Highlighting the couple’s 31-year age gap, she replied laughingly, “He wasn’t born!”
Gibson was a divorcee himself, having been married previously to Cynthia Bauer for more than a decade. A multi-millionaire in his own right, he is reportedly worth $5 million.
The couple married on 17th February 2002 at Claridge’s Hotel in London. Collins described their wedding as “magical”. Gibson, who is of part-Scots heritage, wore a traditional kilt for the ceremony, while Collins looked sensational in a lilac gown with a train.
The 45-minute ceremony was emotional for everyone, with Collins and Gibson exchanging traditional vows. Everyone cried, including the bride, according to her publicist. Joan took her husband’s surname and became Mrs Gibson. Among the 175 guests at the ceremony were 007 actor Roger Moore, singer Shirley Bassey and comedian Ruby Wax.
The bride spoke to the waiting press at the venue and said, “Quite frankly, I really like being married.” She said although there were “no guarantees in life”, she and her husband felt so strongly about each other that they were making the “ultimate commitment”.
Collins posted a social media tribute to her husband on their 17th wedding anniversary, thanking him for 17 “wonderful, fun-filled, happy years”.
Now, at 88, Collins is age-defying, attributing her good health and timeless beauty to her genes, trying to look after herself and always keeping “very fit and healthy”.
She says her marriage is a happy one and even though she and her husband have been together 24/7, due to the Covid-19 lockdown, they “couldn’t be happier” in each other’s company. Gibson agrees, saying he wouldn’t have survived the Covid lockdown situation without his wife.
Today, as well as her acting career, Collins has written pieces for publications such as The Times, The Lady and Harper’s Bazaar. Awarded the OBE in 1997 for her services to drama, she was also awarded the Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her services to charity in the 2015 New Year Honours
One simple meeting can change your life and lead to a brighter future – meetings are always better in person!