Joan Collins has had her ups and downs

With her dark glasses, expensive chiffon dress and designer shoes, the woman in the dole queue could not have looked more out of place among the down-and-outs, deadbeats and drunks shuffling towards the counter.

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When she reached the front of the queue, the clerk behind the desk gave a gasp of astonishment. “Weren’t you Joan Collins?” she asked, her eyes widening.

“I still am,” said she. “Then what are you doing here?”asked the clerk.

“I’m not working at the moment,” said the actress. “I’m resting.”

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As she pondered her next move, Joan remembered how some years previously she had persuaded her sister Jackie, the bestselling novelist, to let her have the film rights to her blockbuster The Stud, the story of a randy London disco manager and his conquests.

Released in April 1978 and savaged by the critics, it took more than £2 million at today’s prices in just ten days – a British box-office record – and went on to become the highest-selling British video ever. 

Still from The Stud found here

A month after the release of The Stud, Joan’s autobiography, Past Imperfect, hit the streets of Britain. It caused an instant sensation, blasting straight into the bestseller lists.

She knew that if the book was to make money it would have to be as spicy as possible, so she included explicit descriptions of even the most reprehensible, embarrassing and tasteless episodes of her life.

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These included sadistic assaults by a homosexual boyfriend when she was at drama school, her abortion of Warren Beatty’s baby, and her startling promiscuity – with, among others, actors Ryan O’Neal and Terence Stamp, and Charlie Chaplin’s son Sydney. She also wrote openly about her marriage to Anthony Newley and his taste for under-age girls.

Anthony Newley found here

Such unashamed honesty was her autobiography’s greatest virtue, but there were some possible anomalies – such as the story of her alleged rape by her first husband, the heart-throb actor Max Reed.

Joan recounted how, on their first date, Reed had picked her up in his huge, flashy, blue American car and instead of taking her out to dinner had driven her straight to his flat in the West End, given her a doctored whisky and coke and a book of pornographic pictures and gone off for a bath.

Joan and Maxwell found here

Joan, who was just 18 at the time, alleged that Reed then forced her to have oral sex with him before driving her home at 3.30am.

She also had a brief affair with Rafael Trujillo, playboy son of the dictator of the Dominican Republic.

Rafael found here

Zsa Zsa Gabor told her that Rafael Trujillo Jr. had been lusting after Joan for ages, and he was renowned for showering his girlfriends with lavish presents.

He had given Zsa Zsa a Mercedes convertible and a full-length chinchilla coat, and he had given a Mercedes to Kim Novak.

Kim Novak found here

Zsa Zsa suggested an assignation with the man she called by his nickname, Ramfis, telling Joan: “It might be worth your while.”

“Joan’s reply,” she later wrote, “was: “I only want to meet him if he gives me a beautiful present.”

“Tactfully, I relayed the message to Ramfis, who said: “Okay, if she wants something, call up Van Cleef and Arpels and order a diamond necklace for her.”

Van Cleef & Arpels diamond zip necklace found here

Joan flew from California to meet Trujillo in Florida – more than 3,000 miles for a one-night stand.

Moored off Palm Beach, they ate a magnificent dinner on his 350ft yacht, eating off gold dishes with gold cutlery, and afterwards they danced.

Then, although Joan did not pretend to any particular affection or even lust for him, she went to bed with him. “Afterward,” wrote Zsa Zsa, “I asked Ramfis if he had had fun with Joan. “I picked her up in my yacht in Miami,” he said tersely. “She was so boring that I put her ashore in Palm Beach”

Palm Beach by Nik Wheeler found here

“I said nothing, having quickly come to the conclusion that the clever Miss Collins had probably taken the diamond necklace and then proceeded to make herself appear to be so boring that she didn’t have to do anything with Ramfis afterward.”

Extract from Joan’s autobiography Past Imperfect