Joan Collins reveals that she was 'harassed by two megastars' when she was only 21
After many women came forward to report film producer Harvey Weinstein's horrendous behaviour towards women over the years, the repercussions are being felt throughout the industry. More than 30 actresses, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie and Cara Delevingne, have now accused Harvey Weinstein of rape, sexual harassment and assault.
This story has continued to develop as the spotlight has turned from Weinstein himself to the industry that allowed this to happen, with many blaming the systemic sexism of the film business and those that allowed this behaviour to flourish in a toxic environment.
The latest voice to emerge from this influx of testimonies is actress Dame Joan Collins. The 84-year-old icon appeared on This Morning this week to talk about the sexist attitudes held by men in the industry, and while she didn't have much to say about Weinstein himself, she did have plenty of experiences with men like him.
The Dynasty star talked with hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, detailing a number of cases in which she faced sexual discrimination, which date all the way back to when she started her career at the age of 16. She explained she was due to play the role of Cleopatra, but lost it to Elizabeth Taylor after she refused to see the "regularly visit" the chairman of 20th Century fox in his apartment.
"One of the reasons my father - a theatrical agent - didn't want me to go into the business, is because he warned about bad men," she explained, "I didn't exactly know what he meant, as a 16-year-old I was about as innocent as a ten-year-old toddler!"
She had plenty of personal experiences of harassment to recount, including auditions where directors pulled up her skirt to see more of her legs, photographers who "would think nothing of slapping your bottom, calling you sweetie, and treating you like a box of candy", and a particularly sickening encounter with two unnamed "megastars" of the industry:
"I met two very, very famous megastars at a party when I was 21 - they were so famous, I can't tell you who they are now.
"But I was wearing an off the shoulder top. I said I didn't really like the music, and one of them said 'Well, I don't really like this' and grabbed my top.
"He pulled it and the other one laughed. I felt so humiliated, I just ran away"
She actually received a warning about this kind of behaviour from the most iconic Hollywood star of all time: Marilyn Monroe. Meeting the actress at a party at Gene Kelly's home, she sat down with her to warn her about the "wolves in Hollywood".
"She told me, she said: 'Watch out for the wolves in Hollywood honey'.
"I said I’ve been in British films for three years I can handle the wolves.
"And she said 'not the power bosses honey. If they don’t get what they want they’ll drop your contract. They’ve done it for lots of girls'."
Collins added that Marilyn warned her to specifically watch out for director Darryl F. Zanuck, who she eventually did run into. "He did grab me in the corridor, very inappropriate, hissing in my ear," Collins elaborated, "smelling of cigarette smoke and BO, said the most horrible vile things to me".
"I think a lot of people, not only in Hollywood, but in the British film industry are quaking in their boots. Not only is it endemic, it’s accepted. I have a grandchild who wants to be in showbiz and I don’t want her to have to go through what I had to go through."
As stories such as the disturbing ones Joan Collins prove, this is not just the actions of one awful man, but a widespread issue that is tolerated by those in positions of power in the film industry. Hopefully, with more and more men and women coming forward, we can start addressing these problems.