Dame Joan Collins


  1. Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday, 1952.   Frank Capra (and George Stevens) wanted Liz Taylor, William Wyler liked Suzanne Cloutier (the future Mrs Peter Ustinov) for the runaway Princess Ann.   A further 28 actresses were seen, the good, bad and risible – like the current sex-bombs Yvonne De Carlo Diana Dors, Gina Lollobrigida, Sylvana Mangano, Shelley Winters.  Apart from, perhaps, Vanessa Brown, Mona Freeman and Wanda Hendrix (even though  her real name as Dixie), the Hollywood hopefuls  – singer Rosemary Clooney (George’s aunt), Jeanne Crain, Nina Foch, Janet Leigh, Joan Leslie, June Lockhart, Dorothy Malone, Patricia Neal, Barbara Rush – were soon discarded, lacking the stature of Euro-royalty. Idem for the Euros – Swedish Bibi Andersson, and the French Capucine, Leslie Caron, Jeanne Moreau. Which left several perfect Brits Claire Bloom, Joan Collins, Glynis Johns, Kay Kendall, Deborah Kerr, Angela Lansbury, Moira Shearer, and, of course, Audrey, … soon gracing the Time cover, hailed by the New York Times as a “slender, elfin and wistful beauty, alternately regal and childlike” with, added Variety, a “delightful affectation in voice and delivery, controlled just enough to have charm and serve as a trademark,” (And, Indeed, it did for evermore).
  2. Eunice Gayson, Miss Robin Hood, 1953.    Future producer Michael Medwin recalls testing opposite Joan – “far too glamorous, too wildly exotic for the part.”
  3. Elizabeth Sellars, Forbidden Cargo, 1953.   Collins was replaced after the first few days of shooting. . “For reasons I do not recall,” said co-star Jack Warne. Oh, pull the other one, Jack. He was the  most important UK star at time and yet he   didn’t know why one of the star was canned?!  Joanie knew.  The  Rank Organisation, which had her under contract,  was punishing her for too much publicity  as “The 3S Girl – sultry, sexy, siren,” etc.   “They tried to discipline me by not giving me work for eight months.”
  4. Susan Shentall, Romeo and Juliet, 1953.   Out to lunch as always, The Rank Organisation decided she was the perfect Juliet. “This did not please either Signor Castellani or myself,” said Joanie. “I didn’t think  I was the Juliet  type. I’d always preferred parts with more muscle.”  She made  several tests,  one with  the eventual Romeo,  Laurence Harvey, but  became hysterical when director Renato  Castellani  insisted she  have an aristocratic nose job.  He’d always wanted Marlon Brando and Pier Angeli.  He got Harvey and Shentall  –  a secretarial student, “with pale sweet skin and honey-blonde hair,” he found in a London pub. She never made a second film. 
  5. Ava Gardner, The Barefoot Contessa, 1954.  Or what one US critic called: A Star is StillbornAuteur Joseph L Mankiewicz checked over several Euro-newcomers for the story based on Rita Hayworth.  Ava loved the film, hated the hype: “That  damn  advertising line  “The World’s Most Beautiful  Animal” will probably follow me around until the end of time.” Joan was far more suited to being Evelyn Nesbit Thaw. The Girl In The Red Velvet Swing. Also in the mix:  Rossana Podesta… and Elizabeth Taylor, who was not the first actress to be paid $1million for a film (Cleopatra, 1960), Ava was. Except she never got it.  She was under contract to MGM, which charged $200,000 for her services (twice her co-star Humphrey Bogart’s pay-cheque) plus 10% of the profits, which added up to $1m… while Metro was only paying her the contracted weekly salary of $60,00.
  6. Terry Moore, Between Heaven and Hell, 1955.    Joanie and Guy Madison became Terry and Robert Wagner. The adapted script was Twilight Zone icon Rod Serling’s first job at Fox. He wrote 500 [ages – a nine hour movie! “I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. They just said: Here’s 1,500 bucks a week – write! So I wrote. They eventually took the thing away from me and handed it over to six other writers…”
  7. Brigitte Bardot, Doctor At Sea, 1955.     Rank’s Naughty Girl tested with The Idol of the Odeons, Dirk Bogarde. “We slithered around self-consciously on creamy satin sheets, I wearing a pink baby-doll nightgown, he a bemused expression. We attempted to look as though we were made for each other but we were seriously ill-matched.”
  8. Felicia Farr, The  Last  Wagon, 1956.     No! So  she was suspended by Fox, losing $2,000 a week.
  9. Heather Sears,  The Story of  Esther Costello,  1956.  One year earlier, Sam Fuller was due  to writer-direct but could never obtain any of the actresses on his short-list for the mute and blind heroine: Collins, Jean Simmons, Susan Strasberg,  Natalie Wood.  Romulus made it a UK film and Sears won British Academy Award for Best Actress.  Joan Crawford played her healthy protector.
  10. Debra Paget, Omar Khayyam, 1956.    In the Persian frame for Sharain were Collins, Yvonne De Carlo, Joanne Dru and Donna Reed.  Persia was played  by  California’s  Indio and Palm Springs.

  11. Jean Seberg, Saint Joan, 1957.     Although a trifle old at 24  for the 19-year-old Maid of Orleans, the tyrannical producer-director Otto Preminger was intrigued by Hollywood’s latest British beauty import – as The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing and holding her own with Bette Davis in The Virgin Queen. Preminger also considered such unlikely Joans as Ursula Andress, Julie Andrews, Anne Bancroft, Claire Bloom, Carol Burnett, Angie Dickinson, Sophia Loren, Shirley MacLaine, Mary Tyler Moore, Kim Novak (from Otto’s Man With The Golden Arm, 1955),  Debbie Reynolds, Maggie Smith, Liz Taylor and…  Mamie Van Doren!
  12. Maria Schell, The Brothers Karamazov, 1957.   Two years earlier, German producer Eugen Frenke wanted Collins as Dostoevsky’s heroine, Grushenka,  for English and German language versions of a  Philip Yordan scenario.    Frenke had tried before in 1942 with Anna Sten, his wife since 1932 – after their 1930  German and French language Karamassof/Karamazoff films.Either actress would have been livelier than the Austrian girl called Maria.
  13. Tina Louise, God’s Little Acre, 1957.    In the minx mix for Griselda in director Anthony Mann’s version of Erskine Caldwell’s salty eroticnovel –  co-starring Aldo Ray and a 21-year-old Michael Landon… looking 17.
  14. Mary Ure, Sons and Lovers,1959. Another Warren Beatty veto. He thought it unappealing.  Producer Jerry Wald promised to make the role more palatable. “But when I read the final script, these changes had not been incorporated.  Warren  encouraged me to walk…  Of course, his motives were not exactly selfless. He didn’t want me to go to England and leave  him! (Still unused by movies, he was on Broadway inA Loss of Roses).  “Don’t go, Butterfly,” he begged. “Don’t leave your Bee.”  Yeah, well…
  15. Jeanne Crain, Madison Avenue, 1962.     Carry on suspension… Lover Warren Beatty’s career decisions were right but expensive.
  16. Elizabeth Taylor, Cleopatra, 1962.
  17. Ava Gardner, 55 Days At Peking,1963.    Charlton Heston thought Ava didn’t have the right aristocratic stuff to be Baroness Natalie Ivanoff.  Also considered: Deborah Kerr, Dana Wynter. And Melina Mercouri wanted major re-writes. Said Heston: “Don’t they all?”

  18. Carroll Baker, The Carpetbaggers1963.
    “Wonderful part, honey,” said her agent. “Terrific role, the money’s great. They really want you.” And Mrs Tony Newley crowed back:    “Would they really want me if they knew I was six months pregnant?”  Joanie would have been a far better      – and sultrier  – Rina Marlowe. Never drawing the line at showing just a bare… .  This was the first of New York producer Joseph E Levine’s three snitty/snotty movies about Hollywood – followed by Harlow, 1964 (also with Baker) and  The Oscar, 1965. Each one worse than the precedent.

  19. Shirley Eaton, Goldfinger, 1964
  20. Sue Lloyd, The Ipcress File, 1965. She was seen for Agent Jean Courtney –  to add some glam to the Len Deighton drabness.
  21. Jacqueline  Bisset, Casino Royale, 1966.
  22. Ann-Margret, Carnal  Knowledge, 197l.  Join the club!  Nedw York stage-screen director Mike Nichols also rejected: Dyan Cannon, Jane Fonda, Raquel Welch, Natalie Wood.
  23. Carroll Baker, Baba Yaga (US: Baby Yaga, Devil Witch), Italy-France, 1973.  All the fading sex sirens were in Rome movies…  So when Anne Heywood backed out, it was easy to contact Joanie, and then Baker about being the (modern) witch from Guido Crepax’s erotic comicbook.
  24. Susan Sarandon, Pretty Baby, 1977.   The plot sickens… A prostitute allows her 12-year-old  daughter’s virginity to be auctioned off in a brothel in the red-light Storyville district of  New Orleans, circa 1917. Elegant French director Louis Malle saw 29 possible pretty Violets – and another 19 actresses for her mother: Candice Bergen, Cher, Julie Christie, Glenn Close (passed), Faye Dunaway, Mia Farrow, Farrah Fawcett (passed), Jane Fonda (with Jodie Foster as her daughter), Goldie Hawn (preferred Foul Play), Anjelica Huston, Diane Keaton, Sylvia Kristel (Emmanuelle, herself),   Liza Minnelli, Cybil Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver.  Plus Joan Collins, who suggested Jasmine Maimone,  her screen daughter in that year’s Magnum Cop,  would  make a fine Violet. Louis  Malle and Sarandon became lovers and also made Atlantic City ,1980… the year he married Bergen until his 1995 death.
  25. Farrah Fawcett, Sunburn, l979. Bianca Jagger was also discussed, Collins settled for a smaller role.
  26. Angie Dickinson, Death Hunt, 1981. As one Internet critic put it, Angie is in the film, for reasons that can only have to do with the boredom of shooting in the Arctic full of guys: Bronson, Marvin Carl Weathers,  Ed Lateur, Andrew Stevens.
  27. Marj Dusay, Guiding Light, TV, 2002.  For seven memorable episodes, Joanie joined the world’s longest running TV soap as the thierd actress playing  Alexandra Spaulding von Halkein Thorpe – after Beverlee McKinsey and Mari Dusay.  Easy pickings for La Collins after her 205 chapters as the  Dynasty  bitch, Alexis Carrington during 1981-1989….apparently based on another McKinsey creation, Iris Carrington. When Collins powdered, Dusay returned.
  28. Leslie Jordan, Will & Grace, 2001-2020.  The 17-episode role of Beverly Leslie, thorn in the side of Grace’s assistant, Megan Mullally, was offered to Dame Joan. The script said she had a cat-fight with Megan  –  and they pulled off  each  other’s wigs off.  Not this lady, said Joanie. And the role went to…a guy!   The rather short Jordan, just perfect as what IMDb called a “snide, mincing and unconvincingly homophic” Beverly. 








 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  28