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Joan Collins: Strong Women and Why They Last
by Barney Battles
Joan Collins is not only one of Britain’s most famous actresses, but she has also carved out a successful career as an author and columnist. At 77, you would be forgiven for thinking that Joan would retire gracefully and enjoy the fruits of her labours. After all, with such a glittering career behind her, it’s obviously not about the money! However, Joan has surprised us all by embarking on yet another outing. This time it’s a German soap opera due to be aired this year. Joan has always said that she will never retire and obviously has a star quality that keeps her at the top of the cast lists of many directors. Whatever you think of the films and TV shows she has made, Joan has set the template for many actresses to come. But what is it that has given her the staying power to succeed where so many others have failed? Are there other forces at work, conspiring with Joan’s talent to ensure that she doesn’t just fade from the public’s consciousness?

Joan was born on May the 23rd 1933. She made her film debut in 1952 in ‘I Believe in You’ and was quickly spotted by 20th Century Fox. Initially, she was hyped as the contender to Elizabeth Taylor’s crown. Taylor had dominated the film world for some time as the cinema’s premiere sex symbol. While Joan had sex appeal in spades, she also had an outspoken nature. In an interview in 1954, she said, “they’re always carrying on about there being no women of star material in England. They don’t bother to build us up; they concentrate on building the men.” Had Joan not the talent and the bankability to back her up, a comment like this could very well have ended her career.

Instead, she went from strength to strength, always daring to push the envelope a little further. In the 1970s she shed her ‘girl next door’ image in favour of becoming a full blown sex siren, appearing in movies, such as the ‘The Stud’ and ‘The Bitch’. However, the 1980s saw Joan re-invent herself once again and this time in the role of the diva. In 1981 the American TV show Dynasty was struggling for viewers. However, with the casting of Joan in the role of Alexis Carrington, Dynasty went on to rival Dallas for the ‘Number One Spot’ in the TV ratings war. Collins herself was nominated six times in succession for a Golden Globe for her portrayal of the millionairess super-bitch. In retrospect, Aaron Spelling, the show’s producer said, “We wrote a character, but that character could have been played by 50 people and 49 of them would have failed. She made it work.” Rather than resting on her laurels once the show finished, Joan embraced a theatre career, making her Broadway debut in Noel Coward’s Private Lives. Countless, shows, films, TV appearances and husbands later, Joan is still going strong.

What part do the stars play in her extraordinary career? Joan is a Gemini born in the year of the Rooster; a combination of two of the most creative and dynamic signs in the Eastern and Western zodiacs. As a Rooster, Joan is blessed with an apparent sixth sense. In truth, this is no more than an uncanny ability to observe people and discern their true characters. This gift, when combined with the dual nature of the Twins, makes it almost a foregone conclusion that Joan was to become a respected actress.

Geminis find it very easy to inhabit a character yet, contradictorily, are able to be themselves at the same time. Joan’s detractors may say that she only ever plays herself. However, using her powers of observation, Joan is able to draw on other people to create extensions of herself. In this way, Joan makes her character portrayals appear effortless and, on some levels, almost indistinguishable from her own. The truth is that, while she may never strap on a hump and a false nose, Joan’s characters are subtle embellishments of her own character, drawn from the library of observations she keeps within.

Another factor in Joan’s staying power is her outspoken attitude to a very fickle industry. Roosters are well known for speaking their minds, but not in a quiet way. Roosters crow their opinions from the rooftops and while this may have earned her a few enemies, it will also have earned her a lot of respect. Where others fear to speak the truth as they see it, Joan’s Chinese star sign has wisely influenced her to do just the opposite.

Both Roosters and Geminis are looking for constant stimulation. While they are committed to the job in hand, it is new projects that excite them. In addition, Geminis have a single-minded fascination with words. Acting and writing are as natural to Joan Collins as brushing your teeth.

Recognised as a British institution, Joan has utilised the best of her star signs to make perceptive and incisive career moves. As 2010 sees her add yet another TV show to her CV, there seems to be little sign of her stopping.





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