Joan Collins: The early 1960s were dark days for women and girls in Hollywood

Collins describes how she fought against assaults by film performers

by Sededin Dedovic
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Joan Collins: The early 1960s were dark days for women and girls in Hollywood
© Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

"Hollywood has changed a lot because it's mostly taken over by corporations, and corporations are the ones making movies now. Every movie has a message, and I'm sick of messages," she told the New York Post. She went to see the summer megahit with Margot Robbie, Barbie, which is about women's empowerment.

"I think Robbie is great and all the actors are good, but I'm not blown away. Times have changed though. That's what young people want today, I guess." In her captivating memoir, "Behind the Shoulder Pads," Joan Collins offers a poignant and powerful account of her relentless battle against assaults involving non-consensual actions within the unforgiving landscape of the film industry.

It was the luminary Marilyn Monroe, herself an enduring symbol of Hollywood glamour, who took Collins under her wing and imparted a solemn warning about the pervasive challenges that lurked behind the scenes. As Collins delves deeper into her narrative, she unveils a chilling chapter in her life, one in which she fearlessly exposes the actions of Daryl Zanuck, a prominent figure who held the influential role of Vice President of Production at the prestigious 20th Century Fox.

Through vivid and unflinching prose, Collins takes readers on a journey through the dark underbelly of Tinseltown, shedding light on the challenges and struggles she faced as a woman in the spotlight. Her memoir not only serves as a testament to her unwavering strength and resilience but also as a cautionary tale for those who dare to enter the complex world of showbiz.

Joan Collins' "Behind the Shoulder Pads" is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the complexities of fame, power, and the courage it takes to confront the challenges lurking in the shadows of stardom. Collins writes, Zanuck is attacking her.

"Inhaling cigar smoke across from me, he hissed, 'You ain't had nobody until you found me, baby. I'm the biggest and the best and I can go all night.' I was so shocked, so I just ran to the set," says the actress. At the age of 90, Joan Collins decided to speak out about Hollywood and discrimination.

The renowned actress also opens up about a deeply personal experience, sharing her journey of having a miscarriage at the age of 27, shortly after discovering she was expecting with her then-fiancé, the iconic Warren Beatty.

She vividly recalls the heart-wrenching moment when she mustered the courage to disclose the news to Beatty. "'Pregnant?' he inquired with the bewildered tone of a young boy, his eyes reflecting a mix of surprise and disbelief.

'How did this happen?'" "It's Butler's. Or perhaps it's the Immaculate Conception," I remarked sarcastically. "This is appalling," he retorted. Collins unequivocally underscores the challenges women faced in her era, emphasizing that her career would likely have been jeopardized had she become a mother.

She astutely observes that the early 1960s were a challenging period for women and young girls. During that time, abortion was illegal in most places, leaving women with few options. Fearing the prospect of a clandestine clinic, Beatty accompanied her to a former surgeon's office in New Jersey. On the morning of the scheduled procedure, Collins wrestled with her decision and contemplated backing out.

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