Dame Joan Collins has lifted the lid on the many instances of sexual harassment she has been subjected to during her 60-year career, as more and more allegations against Harvey Weinstein come to light.
During an appearance on Monday’s ‘This Morning’, the 84-year-old actress said sexual harassment was “endemic” in the entertainment world, revealing she had been a victim of it since she first started out in showbusiness as a teenager.
Speaking to hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby about Harvey Weinstein, she said: “I think a lot of people will be quaking in their boots. It’s endemic. I have a grandchild who wants to be in showbiz and I don’t want her to go through what I had to go through.
“I think that it’s been something that’s been going on, certainly since I started as a young actress of sixteen, seventeen.
“It was the reason my father - who was a theatrical agent - didn’t want me to go into the business. He warned me about ‘bad men’.
“I was as innocent as a 10-year-old today. We did not know anything about the ‘S-word’. So, when I first started and did my first couple of films and went to an audition to play a Greek maid in a movie, the director wanted me to pull down my top so that he could see my cleavage... and that was for a one-liner in a movie. I thought it was a bit strange.”
The former ‘Dynasty’ star revealed she may have missed out on the lead role in 1963’s ‘Cleopatra’ - which eventually went to Elizabeth Taylor - because she refused the advances of a major Hollywood player
“I did about four tests for it,” she said “At one industry party, I was dancing. [One executive] said, ’I would like to get you an apartment and I will visit you one or two times a week and I will guarantee you get all the pick of the scripts. I said, ‘You’re married’. He said, ’I’m sure you will also be front runner for Cleopatra. I didn’t get the role. I don’t know if it was that or if they wanted to get a much bigger star.”
On another occasion, Joan said she was forced to hide in a wardrobe to escape an unnamed movie executive who was harassing her.
She said: “When I got my first audition to do my first big role at Ealing Studios… one of the producers always used to try and catch me at the screen test and push me up against the wall and stroke my arm.
“He was tall and smelly and horrible. I would push him away. I wouldn’t think this had anything to do with getting the part. But then one day, he finally caught me. They hid me - a wonderful dresser hid me in the wardrobe in the wardrobe department. But shortly after that he did get me.”
She continued: “I finally got in the car with him… and he behaved totally inappropriately. He had undone himself and had taken his hand. I said ‘no’. It’s horrible! He laughed at me and called me something very rude, a frigid little ‘b’. He said, ‘Don’t you really want this part’? I said, ‘I do’. He insinuated that if I didn’t go along with him I wouldn’t get it. Luckily, the director really wanted me to get the role.”
Joan also revealed that screen legend Marilyn Monroe had warned her to “watch out for the wolves” in Hollywood.
“Marilyn had been so abused by men and had done so many things to get roles that she didn’t want to do,” Joan said.
“Most of these men were fat and old and hideous. These men had been in the business since they were young in the ’20s and they fancied themselves. They were notorious. I don’t know how many girls went along with it. I know a few.”