Thursday, October 23, 2014

Joan of Art

There once was a restaurant nearby which had a wall of photos of seemingly random celebrity females, but upon closer inspection, they'd created it wholly out of ladies named Joan. Now, we all know my very favorite Joan is Miss Crawford, but remarkably I have found that in nearly every instance that a woman is named Joan, I like her if not love her! Second in line is Joan Collins (who was named after Crawford. Strange imagining ANY little girl being called Joan, it seems such an adult name.) This shot at left, which I've posted before, is my favorite photo of her.

After our rundown of lovely portraits not too long ago, one standout of which belonged to Collins, I looked through The Underworld vault and realized that there was enough good material there for a post all its own. So today is just a parade of Joan Collins art photos, some of which are good and some of which are amazing. The gal liked her picture "took!" I've tried to stick towards the less-famous poses while still aiming to touch on all the stages of her career. Enjoy the many hairdos, get-ups and make-up schemes (nearly always created and applied by Joan herself!) as we burn through this collection starting now!
Here's a rare shot of Miss C. as a neophyte actress, so young and fresh, but even then not looking very innocent. The raven hair and arched eyebrows gave her a "bad girl" quality from the start.
The brows are a bit harder now and the hair more severely styled as she continues towards adulthood.
After a stint at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts), Collins became a burgeoning presence in the British film industry.
With the brows and eye makeup increasingly heavier, her status as a siren was becoming solidified.
How can we help assuming something beyond innocent when we're posing in a revealing brassiere? 
I've always enjoyed this fun shot of Joan splashing about in the swimming pool, something we didn't see too much of during her career until years later when she and Linda Evans went to it in the Carrington lily pond.
Red on or directly near Miss C. has often been a winner.
While I enjoy Collins' makeup, I also love this more fresh-scrubbed look she sported during time at home (with her mother and her little brother Bill in the background.)
This might be the tallest that the 5'4" young lady ever looked.
I actually don't really love this portrait of Collins, but its colorful camp appeal caused me to include it nevertheless. What's more, Miss Collins says it was taken by no less a photographer than Mr. Yul Brynner!
Brought to Hollywood and 20th Century Fox now to play Nellifer in Land of the Pharaohs (1955), which is a delicious camp delight if you haven't ever seen it.
As a studio player, the publicity shots were endless (but thank goodness for that, now!)
Same day as the one above, but in glorious color.
At times described as "the poor man's Ava Gardner" or "the poor man's Elizabeth Taylor," she once quipped that "the poor man didn't do so bad, actually!"
Once again, red does her a favor or two.
Gussied up and looking quite beautiful for The Virgin Queen (1955), in which she tangled with Bette Davis on-screen and a little bit off-screen, too!
Yet another really striking portrait from this era.
Despite attempts at playing innocents, such as The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955), which she inherited when Marilyn Monroe declined to do it, and the later Sea Wife (1957), in which she was a nun, Collins most often succeeded when portraying sultrier types.
A perfect example of this was her part of showgirl Crystal Allen in The Opposite Sex (1956), a role Joan Crawford had done in The Women (1939), though Crawford didn't have to contend with June Allyson, Leslie Nielsen or multitudinous other bananas...
The sexy charms of Collins were wasted in dreary movies like The Wayward Bus (1957), in which Jayne Mansfield's brassy looks contrasted with Joan's downplayed ones or in The Bravados (1958), in which she was basically a pretty girl waiting for Gregory Peck to figure that out.
Island in the Sun (1957) was a potentially provocative movie concerning mixed race relationships and heritage, but most of the teeth were removed from the story as the Production Code was still wielding a certain amount of power. 
I like this amusingly artful shot of her on location for Island, though.
By 1960, a stiffer, more severe look was taking hold.
Though she's still eye-catching, I was never much of a fan of the pointy brows she's sporting here.
Her last Hollywood film for quite some time was also close to the nadir, Road to Hong Kong (1962) with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.
A dream role of Collins' had been Cleopatra and she was slated to star in it before the decision was made to go with a bigger budget and a bigger star (a million-dollar-making Elizabeth Taylor.) When Taylor fell gravely ill during production, Collins was kept in the dugout a time or two, but ultimately the movie Cleopatra (1963) was made with Taylor, though it nearly bankrupted the studio.
A fallow period followed in which she played housewife to Anthony Newley and raised their children, only taking the occasional acting gig.
These were some of her chicest years style-wise, but only the occasional TV appearance kept her career going at all. Her sole "feature film" Warning Shot (1967) had originally been made for TV, but then released to theaters instead.
With more time on her hands, this was also a period in which she could play with her looks, for better or worse.
Here we see a chin-length bobbed wig and eyes with prominent lashes.
I think the first time I ever became conscious of who Joan Collins was, it was during her low-budget horror movie phase in which she often wore her hair up this way. 
An optional 'do was this shaggy-styled wig. Once her marriage crumbled, she had to go to work any way possible and was even forced for a brief while into accepting unemployment checks. 
Here we see her duded out as a tourist trap rental agent for what would probably be her most personally humiliating film yet, 1977's Empire of the Ants.
After a bout or two with the giant ants, Joan takes a break on the swampy, filthy, bug-infested Florida location.
Solace of a sort came when she starred in the softcore sex romps The Stud (1978) and The Bitch (1979), both based on books by her sister Jackie, by now a successful novelist in her own right. They weren't Shakespeare, but they got Joan's face (and more!) out there again in a splashy way.
In 1981, Collins took the part of Alexis Carrington on Dynasty and it would make her a household name, forever identifying her with the role of a ruthless businesswoman and ever-interfering mother. This early shot of her is shocking in its simplicity and use of mostly her own hair.
In a short time, the role would become glitzier and more extravagant, with Collins rising to the occasion in a dizzying aray of gowns, furs, hats, shoulder pads, jewels and so on...
I recall being staggered by this particular look, a long, '30s-inspired suit with coordinated purse, gloves, hat, etc... Even covered up completely except for her face (and even that had a veil over it!), she registered dramatically.
During the height of Alexis frenzy in 1983, Collins called upon legendary photographer George Hurrell to photograph her semi-nude for Playboy magazine. She was fifty years old. 
This was another of my favorite Joan Collins publicity photos while she was on Dynasty. Something about the beautifully lit eyes and the dramatic outfit...
It was, however, when the show was on its last legs in 1989 that she coughed up my all-time favorite Alexis look. Tan, with long, subtly-highlighted hair, she was dazzling. I have no photo of it, but the scene in which she really killed it was one in which she found out that Dex had slept with Sable. She looked much like the photo above, but was in a cream gown and with lots of gold jewelry.
Back for the negligible Dynasty: The Reunion (1991), Collins (seen here with costar Jeroen Krabbe) could still pull off the amazing get-ups...
...though I was disappointed that she returned to big and, what were by then quite outdated, Alexis wigs. 
In the years since this, Collins has continued to work, even in such surprising places as The Nanny and Will & Grace, but never stops serving up as much glamour, color and pizzazz as she can muster. She seems to have taken her namesake Joan Crawford to heart, who once said, "I never go outside unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door." More than anything, Joan has proven that she's a survivor of selfish men, show business and life in general!


Anonymous said...

I apologize for going a little off-topic. I know this post is about Joan Collins, but thank you, thank you, thank you for posting a picture of Jeroen Krabbe!

NotFelixUnger said...

The pictures are just amazing but the second from the top is by far my favorite.

I adore JC. In the early and mid 80s I lived and breathed Joan Collins, and Dynasty. My fascination with her and the show was so great my parents started to get an inkling of what was to come. [ahem]

One of my favorite campy movies is "Land of the Pharaohs." The ending is hysterical both for the just desserts as well as her over the top hysterics.

I would suggest reading her autobiography ["Past Imperfect" for anyone who has not read it. It is a hoot from start to finish and she goes into details on the nadir of her career when she hit rock bottom. The best parts relate to Robert Wagner, and "The Bitch" and "The Stud." From beginning to end she drags you in with her life story. It is a fabulous read. I've read it many times at this point and it is always a great deal of fun.

Thanks for a fabulous collection.

PS: "Portrait in Black" along with "Madame X" should arrive today or tomorrow. [I can't wait]

Dave in Alamitos Beach said...

Dynasty was the only one of the nighttime soaps I watched since my roommate/landlord/friend was absolutely obsessed with Joan v. Linda. I always found Joan's acting to be quite credible and she certainly had more fire in her than simpering good girl Linda. :-)

Having just finished reading Pictures At A Revolution I got a bit of the Joan story as the wife of poor Anthony Newley who was hated and abused by Rex Harrison. I wonder why their marriage broke up? I mean, it's Hollywood so I can guess some combo of infidelity and career jealousy, but really have no idea.

And I agree that the first black and white photo of Joan is the best. Her face isn't just straight up glamourous or bitchy, but rather she seems just on the edge of revealing an inner secret. It's smashing.

Knuckles Girlyskirt said...

I greatly enjoyed this tribute to Joan. Thanks.

Am a great fan of hers. One of the great B-movie stars who rates an A+.

Loved her in "The Stud", "The Bitch" and "Tales From the Crypt"...Yes, there's nothing more festive than watching an evil Joan get chased by a killer Santa Claus!

Poseidon3 said...

Armando, I too love Jeroen and have ever since I first saw Paul Verhoeven's "The 4th Man" about twenty-five years ago!

NotFelix, this is yet one more thing we share. I was totally obsessed with Joan as a teen and, as I found out years later, the mother of my best friend (female) told her once, "There's no way he's straight. He's only interested in unobtainable women!" Ha! True enough, I guess! And, yes, Past Imperfect is wonderful. I understand that there are differences in the British publication of it and the U.S. one, though, the British one being a bit more revealing/racy?

Dave, if I remember correctly, Anthony Newley was always cheating on Joan (he was the more popular of the two at the time, which seems unimaginable, but true.) She might have been one for a good time, but I believe she was faithful to her husbands at least! Anyway, during the filming of one of his garish autobiographical opuses ("Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?"), he cast Joan as his wife and his mistress as his mistress and I think that was about all she could take from that point on. They split not too long after.

Knuckles, glad to see you and others throwing Joan a little love! Thanks, everyone.

Dave in Alamitos Beach said...

Ha! I do have Anthony Newley on the ipod and enjoy about ten songs of his ENTIRE career, so methinks he might have been a bit full of himself perhaps? Not to mention a horndog. The book said they had two children together and I do feel sorry for them. Hopefully they turned out okay?

One more thing I wanted to say is that I'm impressed with the variety of styles and mostly angles that Joan is pulling off in these photos. She doesn't really seem to have a bad side and that's fairly unusual. Shot from below or above, from the right or left, she looks great. Oh, and did anyone wear makeup as well as Joan? Can't really think of anyone.

joel65913 said...

That's a great collection of photos. My favorite is the one in blue right under the picture of her in the neck ruffle where her head looks like it's on a platter.

Loved the post but reading your first few sentences I thought it was going to be a takeoff on the wall of Joan concept with pictures of various Joans though the years, which would have been cool too.

Once you mentioned it I realized that I also like most entertainers named Joan. Crawford, Hackett, Bennett, Plowright, Rivers, Blondell, Cusack and Miss Collins of course are my favs but I couldn't think of a single one I'm dislike. Even the sometimes frosty Joan Fontaine has her moments.

It is hard to think of a parents naming their girls Joan nowadays and seems strange that it was once so popular but it was a top 10 name in the 30's. Maybe that's why, like Shirley its hasn't had time yet to acquire that antique charm that's brought names like Violet, Hannah, Sophia etc. back so strongly

Rick said...

I real beauty but every time I think of her I think of and interview she had with David Letterman. She said she ate renderings, bacon drippings, on bread as a child/young woman. That's hard to imagine.

Narciso Duran said...

I hate to sound like an old fogey, but is there no glamour anymore? Anywhere? Does anybody even care anymore? The 1980s gave us plenty of glamour, embodied in a mix of the old stars and the new, side by side on television. All of my beloved shows - Dynasty, The Colbys, Dallas, Hotel, Falcon Crest, Hart to Hart, and many others, oozed glamour, sexiness and a scenery chewing sense of fun. Then MTV's "Real World," was launched in 1992 and the never-ending saga of reality shows that resulted has destroyed all that was good and glamorous. Even the soaps are gone. I flip on the screen now, and the parade of trash who cry and vomit for attention makes me cringe. I want lipstick that sears the screen and gowns that glitter, not gluttonous rubes who fart and sniff it, or baby-mommas who stagger around the stage in paternity denial. I weep for us all.

Narciso Duran said...

Oh, by the way, I thought Joan Collins was quite classy in how she handled the swirl of dirt that accompanied the publication of Shirley Jones' memoirs last year. If you recall, Shirley claimed Anthony Newley supposedly requested a four-way sex romp between Shirley and Jack Cassidy, and himself and Joan Collins. Her injunction stopped the presses, which resulted in revisions and a healthy bit of le publicitee for both Collins and Jones; again, a classy lady.

Poseidon3 said...

Dave, I have a tribute to Joan, separate from this photo essay, that tells a lot more about her career and relationships (and features many photos different from - and in some cases better than - ones in this line-up!) I think you'd enjoy it. As far as I know, all of her children are doing great! --

Joel, so true about the resurgence of certain names, but not others. No Eunices, Ethels, Myrtles, etc... but those others you mentioned have bounced back. Watching "Wheel of Fortune" as I do, I am often thunderstruck at the way some people seem to name their children monikers that see, destined to forever be not only misspelled, but also mispronounced because they are either bastardizations of a regular name or completely fabricated out of nothing!

Rick, that IS hard to imagine! I wonder if it was during WWII and for the decade after when rationing was in such strict effect. She was in London during The Blitz as a child and was petrified half the time.

Narciso, I agree with you about the lack of glamour (and your funny,but insightful, reasoning as to the reasons for its demise!) If it's any consolation, "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" is now cancelled! LOL The type of glitzy glamour you refer to can be found in the interview segments of all the "Real Housewives" shows, but if you want any class along with it, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack!!!!! Believe it or not, this is the first I've heard of the Shirley Jones dust-up! I'm actually surprised Jack Cassidy didn't go for it! Marty Ingels might have, too, but nobody asked... LOL Interesting. What's really weird is that publishers keep trying to press old stars for all this crazy content as if fans won't buy the books without it when most true blue fans of the veteran celebrities really just want insight, reflections, opinions and so on about their long careers! I don't need to know some fabricated or exaggerated story. Just the facts, ma'am.

rico said...

My take on Joan is the same as that of Sharon Stone, dull dramatic actress, but a glamour star with a flair for bitchy comedy. That's why JC was such a success on Dynasty...she made it fun and campy!

Did you ever see the episode where Alexis and Blake briefly reunite while on a business trip together? Alexis goes into the bathroom to slip into something more comfortable ; ) Joan goes in with a fluffy wig, and comes out with her own thin hair in a tiny pony was like something off SNL!

Despite Joan not being one of my faves, I respect that she has survived and at times flourished over the long haul in Hollywood, with out ever falling over the edge, like so many aging stars... go Joan!


Poseidon3 said...

Some valid points and reflections, Rico. And, yes, I saw every episode of "Dynasty" that was ever made! LOL