Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Joan Collins

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Joan Collins

Article excerpt

Credit: Joan Collins

Ahh! Spring has sprung at last! Or has it? Leaving a warm and sunlit London last month we expected balmy weather in Los Angeles but the skies were grey and murky and, like Lena Horne sang in 'The Lady is a Tramp': I hate California, it's cold and it's damp. It's necessary to dress in three layers in the City of Angels. It can be seriously frosty in the early morning, when the movers and shakers don their sweats and pant down the boulevards of Sunset and Beverly. By mid-afternoon, however, it's boiling and everyone strips to sleeveless. Not that Los Angelinos are big in the sartorial stakes. Whenever Percy and I are in the lift, wearing what we consider normal wear for a restaurant dinner, someone will invariably blurt out 'Gee, you'reso dressed up! Doing somethingspecial tonight?' Trainers, baseball caps, jeans and tees are perfectly acceptable in everyboite in this state of milk and honey, but just let them try getting into LouLou's!

Iconic star Mickey Rooney died last week, age 92, to outpourings of grief from his many fans, although 'tis said he wasn't exactly Mr Popularity with his colleagues. But his conquests were legendary. Rooney was almost the last of the stars from the fabulous golden era of Hollywood, which lasted from the 1920s to the mid-1950s. I arrived there as a very young actress at the very end of this golden age -- when the gilt was beginning to tarnish -- and I was practically the last starlet to be put under contract. When I met Rooney shortly after I arrived, I learnt how quick with a quip this nine-times-wed actor could be. Looking me up and down, he leered 'Hey! Didn't we use to be married?' 'No, that was Ava Gardner,' I riposted.

An actor's (or actress's) life has never been easy. For all the wealth and fame Rooney achieved, he was reported to have left an estate of only $18,000. The perception is that actors are a lucky pampered lot who work in a glamorous and easy profession. The sad fact is that 90 per cent of actors earn well below the minimum wage and their 'shelf life' is extremely short, and as they get older it's the law of diminishing returns. My agent announced that in the 100 pilots currently in development this season, there were only two significant roles for women over 60. This is why I've always believed that all actors (and actresses! …

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