As Dame Joan Collins heads to Yorkshire with her new show, Absolutely exclusively sits down with her to talk county favourites, worst kissers and royal occasions
By Lisa Byrne
There is no one on this planet quite like Dame Joan Collins. She possesses old school Hollywood glamour, appears ageless and retains a razor-sharp wit. After over 80 years in the business, many would expect the award-winning star to enjoy the fruits of her hard work by relaxing in some uber glam location – but not Joan. She is instead dusting off her shoulder pads, putting on the glitz and taking part in a nationwide tour of her new show – and it promises to be epic.
As Joan herself says in an exclusive interview with Absolutely Yorkshire magazine: “I’ve had many amazing adventures in my life. Some stories though, I have only ever shared with my friends… Until now!”
Dame Joan, you are appearing at the historic York Grand Opera House on 2 October as part of your Behind The Shoulder Pads tour. What will your much-anticipated latest tour be about?
I have so many fascinating tales that I tell my friends, and now I have decided to share them with you. I also reflect on more recent events that I haven’t spoken about before. It’s a mixture of old and new stories which are all very entertaining.
You’ve visited our county on several occasions. What are your best memories of being in Yorkshire?
I absolutely love the North Yorkshire moors, as it makes me think of Cathy and Heathcliff from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, wandering around haunting the landscape. And I’ve always loved York’s Grand Opera House – it’s a marvellous theatre brimming with history. Also, Yorkshire’s close to Cumbria where I’ve made the most magical memories. I celebrated a memorable birthday there where my husband gave me one of my favourite gifts – a heart shaped pendant with P loves J inside and an arrow running through it.
York is reputed to be one of the most haunted cities in the world. Have you ever had a ghostly experience, and do you believe in the afterlife?
I did stay at a palazzo in Venice, which was incredibly haunted. The ghostly presence made itself known the entire time and many strange things happened. That experience certainly made me reconsider the afterlife!
Where do you get your incredible energy and joie de vivre from?
My mother used to call me ‘Miss Perpetual Motion’ – I think I was born with it.
You’ve met everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Grace Kelly. Who do you think possessed the most otherworldly beauty and charisma from that golden era?
There’s no question, it is absolutely Marylin Monroe. Not only was she gorgeous, but Marilyn was an amazing actress who was hugely underrated. Her star quality oozed charisma and sexiness.
Do you think any modern-day actresses have such elegance and beauty?
Sadly, it’s not the fashion anymore, but I do think Margot Robbie is a natural beauty.
Who was the worst actor you ever kissed?
No question, it was Gene Barry [American actor Gene starred with Joan in 1968 film Subterfuge].
You married dashing Percy Gibson at Claridge’s in 2002. What keeps your long-lasting marriage so alive?
Well, we started off as friends before anything romantic happened, and I do think that helped a lot as we already admired and respected each other. It’s quite remarkable how well things have gone because we spend 24/7 with each other, but giving each other space has been very beneficial. I think it’s the collaboration of our work and life balance that has been so positive.
What do you think of today’s reality TV stars?
I don’t follow reality TV or reality stars. I much prefer fantasy!
You lost your incredible sister Jackie in 2015 to breast cancer. How have you coped with the loss?
I can’t answer this in one simple sentence as it’s utterly devastating. One doesn’t ‘cope’ or ‘get over’ something like that. One just learns to live with it.
If you could only take two products from your hugely popular make-up and skincare range Timeless Beauty to a desert island, what would they be?
Without doubt my Marylin lipstick and brown eye shadow.
You’ve met many members of the Royal Family. What are your memories of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth?
One of my fondest memories took place at Buckingham Palace in 2014. I was invited to see a performance of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion given by Rada students to mark 60 years of the monarch’s patronage of the drama school. After the show the Queen walked around the room greeting and chatting to many celebrity guests. She was holding a glass in her hand, but whether it was wine or water I didn’t dare ask. When she came to me, she mentioned having bestowed my OBE in 1997, which I told her was the biggest highlight of my life after having given birth to my children, and we talked about the show. The Queen was incredibly knowledgeable about the play and its adaptation to My Fair Lady in the 1950s.
If you were stuck in a lift with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, what would you say to her?
I rarely take lifts – terrible claustrophobia.
Yorkshire has produced a huge range of incredible actors, from Sir Patrick Stewart, Dame Judi Dench, Dominic West, and Sean Bean, do you have a favourite?
All of them are wonderful actors.
What’s your most treasured outfit by the late, great Nolan Miller?
Sadly, I do not have any outfits left from Nolan, but my favourite was the too-low-cut metallic lamé gown that I wore at the Night of 100 Stars in New York City in 1982.
Due to your iconic role as Alexis Colby in Dynasty, everyone believes you love Champagne, but this isn’t true. What is your perfect drink?
A fine white Sancerre or a very dry martini with ‘no groceries’!
To book tickets for Dame Joan Collins Behind The Shoulder Pads tour visit amickproductions.co.uk/dame-joan-collins; Behind The Shoulder Pads: Tales I Tell My Friends is available for pre-order on Amazon