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In April, The Spectator reported Joan Collins’ dis of Twitter. “It is the most banal and boring pastime ever invented,” she told the British magazine. So when rumors circulated later this year that the actress had taken to tweeting, some reporters were plenty skeptical. After all, there’s more than one Collins account out there, including one peppered with a few too many obvious “dahlings.” But the inaugural tweet from “joancollinsobe” sounded authentic enough: “Well, I finally gave in, joined the 21st century! I have an iPhone, iPad so now I’ll start tweeting. This IS me...aka Alexis! Stay tuned!” Her official Web site linked to the feed. She had messages from the verified account of sister Jackie. For the record, Collins was in Saint-Tropez when she entered the Twitterati ranks.
It was Collins. The “obe” stood for Order of the British Empire, which she had received from the Queen in 1997. Soon the world discovered that, on Aug. 27, Collins watched an old episode of “Dynasty.” On Sept. 24, she felt “sorry for Demi and Ashton.” She launched an official Facebook page on Oct. 22. (There were already six others claiming to be Collins.) Two days later, it was “just a regular Sunday for me!” And on Nov. 1: “It’s over 80 degrees [in L.A.] who knows what to wear?”
Joan Collins’ life is an open book. Again.
The actress, best known for her campy, vampy role as Alexis Morrell-Carrington-Colby-Dexter-Rowan on Eighties prime-time soap “Dynasty,” has already written two tell-all memoirs, the first in 1978. There was no polite lacquering of events; she detailed everything from her stream of ex-husbands, including the first, Maxwell Reed, who tried to sell her to an Arab sheikh for one night, to her 1983 Playboy cover, sales for which reportedly pushed the men’s magazine into the black. In 2006, Collins performed a candid autobiographical one-woman show on the London stage; tomorrow night, she brings that show stateside. “One Night With Joan,” directed by her husband, Percy Gibson, debuts in the ballroom of Feinstein’s at Loews Regency and runs till Nov. 27.
“It’s the story of my life,” the L.A.-based Collins says, in her crisp English lilt. “I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. I’m known for being extremely honest, so I don’t hold back, but this isn’t an ‘Oh, poor me, crybaby.’ It’s done in a humorous, anecdotal way.” So while she covers episodes such as her 1996 battle with Random House — she submitted a manuscript, the publisher sued to get the $1.2 million advance back because it was “unreadable,” she won — Collins also delves into the juicy stuff, including her myriad divorces and affairs. “It’s like a movie with me onstage,” she continues. “Behind-the-scenes stories of Richard Burton being lecherous, Bette Davis being spiteful, Bing Crosby being grumpy…I’ve worked with some of the biggest names in the business, you know?”
At the age of 77 (or 79, depending on the source; Collins herself won’t tell), the London native is still in a work-centric state of mind. Last week, she made a cameo on the CBS sitcom “Rules of Engagement” and, next month, headlines in “Dick Whittington” at the Birmingham Hippodrome in Birmingham, England. There, audiences can watch Collins sing live — as she plays Queen Rat in the British folktale. The actress also has two television projects in the pipeline, which she declines to disclose until all the details are buttoned up. She adds that there’s been talk of bringing her 2009 makeover special, “Joan Does Glamour,” to the U.S. “I’d like to come back to prime-time television, absolutely,” she says.
Collins is also currently writing a book — her 12th in a lineup that includes those memoirs, as well as novels and beauty guides. “The World According to Joan,” slated for a September release in England, will feature Collins’ musings on a whole host of subjects, from food, fame and manners to men. “I have a lot to work with,” she responds with a chuckle, when asked about the last topic. “But I haven’t started that chapter.” (Famous paramours include Warren Beatty, Charlie Chaplin Jr., Dennis Hopper, Robert Quarry and Conrad “Nicky” Hilton Jr.) She will say this, however, of fame: “It’s the most ridiculous thing in the world. People crave fame, they think it’s going to change their lives; it doesn’t.”