Dame Joan Collins goes Behind The Shoulder Pads in new book and autumn tour, heading to Grand Opera House, York

“Some stories, though, I have only ever shared with my friends…until now!” says Dame Joan Collins

TO coincide with the release of her memoir Behind The Shoulder Pads, Hollywood legend, author, producer, humanitarian and entrepreneur Dame Joan Collins will embark on a 12-date autumn tour with husband Percy Gibson by her side.

Returning to the Grand Opera House, York, where they presented Unscripted in February 2019, they will field audience questions and tell seldom-told tales and enchanting anecdotes on October 2, accompanied by rare footage from Dame Joan’s seven decades in showbusiness. 

“I’ve had many amazing adventures in my life. Some stories, though, I have only ever shared with my friends…until now!” says Dame Joan, introducing her 19th book, Behind The Shoulder Pads: Tales I Tell My Friends, published in hardback, e-book and audio by Seven Dials/Orion Publishing Co on September 28.

Dame Joan, who turned 90 on May 23, has “always believed one should retain some mystery in life and hide a knowing smile behind one’s shoulder pads”. In the book and on the tour, she will share her most memorable moments in and out of the limelight.

The book charts her journey from her early years as a young star in the golden era of Hollywood to stamping her stilettos in Dynasty; from the glittering heights of Saint Tropez to the busy Oscars season in Los Angeles over the years.

Joan writes movingly of her grief and adventures with her sister, the late author and actress Jackie, delving deeper into the ups and downs of love and relationships and her happiness with husband Percy.

Filled with a cast of household names, such as the late Queen Elizabeth II, Diana, Princess of Wales, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Caine and Warren Beatty, Behind The Shoulder Pads promises to “delight and shock in equal measures”.

When a sore throat put paid to Dame Joan’s interview by voicemail with Charles Hutchinson, she very kindly answered questions by email instead.

When did you first wear shoulder pads, Dame Joan?

When Nolan Miller and I were collaborating in the early days of Dynasty we were looking at the couture shows from Paris because I said to him, ‘Alexis is a sophisticated global society lady, and she would be at the forefront of fashion’.

“In the Fifties we all wore shoulder pads. They made our hips look slimmer; our waists look trimmer; they were more flattering than an Italian waiter.”

When did you last wear shoulder pads?

“I still wear them. The structured look will never go out of fashion.”

Has York ever featured in your career or indeed in your life beyond the stage and screen?

“York is the seat of England, and I am a patriotic Englishwoman!”

What’s right with the British film industry?

“A lot. The talent is world class. You can see it in the number of awards we get every year.”

What’s wrong with the British film industry?

“What is wrong with the movie industry as a whole, whether in Britain or America. There is so much product that a lot of it is self-indulgent.”

The cover for Dame Joan Collins’s new memoir, published on September 28

What was the last film you saw and what was your verdict?

“Plane, starring Gerard Butler. Completely unbelievable and thoroughly enjoyable as a result.”

What did you learn about yourself in writing the memoir Behind The Shoulder Pads?

“Which opinions have changed over time, and which haven’t.”

Is glamour still what it used to be or has this age of social media gossip stripped away the air of mystery that once prevailed?

“I don’t know that glamour and social media gossip are necessarily interlaced. I think glamour still exists and social media doesn’t necessarily affect it, but if you’re talking about copycats on social media, there have always been ‘wannabees’ and pale imitations.”

What advice were you given that has stuck with you for life?

“Do it yourself because you’re the only one who will care about you.”

In turn, what advice would you give to a fledgling talent looking to fly high on stage and screen?

“Don’t bother unless you have the hide of a rhinoceros and willing to take rejection at every turn. And if you make it: live simply and stay humble.”

What would you still like to do that you have not done yet as an actress, author, producer, humanitarian and entrepreneur?

“When you put it that way, I guess not much! I like working, so I’ll continue!”

 Where are you most at home: on stage, in front of a camera or at home?

“I’m always at home in every place because I enjoy what I do.”

Please sum up yourself in six words…

“As I wrote in the prologue of my last book, My Unapologetic Diaries: ‘I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, an aunt and a loyal friend.”

What did you not talk about on your last York visit that you particularly want to discuss this time?

“What did you not ask me the last time in York that you particularly wanted to know about?”

Now that question and answer must wait until the next time, Dame Joan.

Dame Joan Collins, Behind The Shoulder Pads, Grand Opera House, York, October 2, 7.30pm, in the only Yorkshire show of the tour. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.