Joan Collins

Joan Collins, PBS Pioneers of TelevisionJoan Collins, an actress since her teen years, studied for the stage at the Royal Academy in London.  She often played “bad girls and juvenile delinquents,” Collins said.  “It has something to do with the way I look.”  Collins didn’t have any interest in acting for film or TV until an agent booked her small parts in a few films.  In her early twenties, Collins came to Hollywood and landed starring roles, including in “The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing” (1955). Despite her previous work, Collins didn’t become a household name until she landed the part of Alexis Carrington in “Dynasty.”  The producers had first offered the part to Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor, but they declined, allowing Collins to make her debut in season two and to play the role of a lifetime.

She kept a cool, cosmopolitan air about her on “Dynasty,” even when ad-libbing during a famous cameo appearance by Henry Kissinger, the result of the show shooting at a real gala ball in Denver. The director told Collins to say something to Kissinger, who had agreed simply to greet her character by name. Collins quickly tried to think of what Alexis would say to the statesman and chose, “Henry, darling, I haven’t seen you since we last met in Portofino, it was fun!”

Joan Collins’ Catfights

No TV series showcased luxury more than “Dynasty.” As beautiful as the fashion, jewelry, and lavish homes were, the catfights were just as memorable. It wasn’t until Joan Collins entered the show with a deliciously biting performance as the scheming Alexis Carrington, that the over-the-top “girl fights” began. The catfights between Collins and Linda Evans (Krystle Carrington) are legendary. “I loved it when I saw a scene coming up in which Linda and I were going to have conflict… Linda and I would go all out,” said Collins. It was one of the first times that knock-down, drag-out fights between two women were seen on television and America ate it up.