As Graham Lord says in his proposal Joan Collins was the name most mentioned to him when he was seeking ideas for a subject to follow David Niven. The only women more famous, he says, are the Queen and Victoria Beckham. Certainly Joan Collins at 70 can still attract a 100,000 fee for a brief appearance in one of M&S's TV ads. 'Men like her because she is beautiful, sexy, sassy, funny, naughty and intelligent,' says Lord. 'Women admire her because she is stylish, elegant, strong, positive and independent, a fesity old feminist who is nevertheless extremely feminine and even in old age she is able to attract handsome young men. And gays adore her so much that she has become an international gay icon.' Her acting career includes a score of unmemorable or memorably awful movies (THE STUD and THE BITCH based on the novels of her sister Jackie), but for acting it is probably her role as Alexis Carrington - 'evil, selfish, spoiled, arrogant, pushy' - in the series DYNASTY for which she is remembered. And for humour lots of us remember her hilarious 1970 Cinzano TV ads with Leonard Rossiter. She has also appeared on stage in London (PRIVATE LIVES, THE LAST OF MRS CHEYNEY etc).
The men in her life - and her marriages - make headlines. She is currently married to Percy Gibson (33 years her junior). There's more - a daughter Katy (by record producer Ron Kass) nearly died after an accident. Gollancz published her KATY: A FIGHT FOR LIFE (1982). She is, even at 70, indefatigable, and as Lord says, 'irresistible.' Let Jeanette Winterson in The Guardian have the last word: 'I love Joan Collins. While seventies feminists were wondering whether all men are rapists and all sex is power, Joan was out there, ball-breaking in her stilettos, looking like a Playboy centrefold, and maddeningly in charge. 'Joan Collins is a bridge between Monroe and Madonna. Sexuality is her stamp - and it's not just the shoes...'
Graham Lord is the author of numerous bestselling and acclaimed biographies, in cluding those of Jeffrey Bernard, Dick Francis, James Herriot, David Niven, and most recently John Mortimer. He was literary editor of the Sunday Express for 23 years, and now lives in the south of France.