There’s no denying that together and apart Joan Collins and Jackie Collins have created quite major success in their respective careers: Joan as an actress (from Dynasty to American Horror Story), who has been working for nearly 70 years; and the late Jackie as an actress turned novelist (32 bestsellers), whose highly sexualized storytelling was condemned on the one hand but at the same time sold millions upon millions of copies to adoring fans. Now their story is being turned into a limited series of six-episodes, coming from the production company behind the critically acclaimed Stan & Ollie.
Joan offered in a statement, “I am delighted that such a prestigious team wants to tell our story, and I know my sister Jackie would be as excited as I am to be involved.” Added Penelope Skinner, who will be writing the show, “I am thrilled to be working on the fascinating story of these fabulous, iconic and powerful women. There is far more to Joan and Jackie than diamonds and shoulder pads: these are two very special sisters whose lives are both aspirational and inspirational.”
The ladies themselves in a sense provide a hint of what went on in their lives that will help the show look at them “from a teenage bedroom in post-war London to the glitz and glamour of 1980s Beverly Hills.”
“I blame my grandmother for encouraging me to become an actress,” Joan revealed to London’s The Guardian. “She taught me to sing, tap dance and even do the splits — which I can still do. ‘Oh, Grandma, what bendy legs you have!’ I squealed when, at Christmas at the Collins abode, she performed her famous splits to a packed room. It was a trick she had learned as a dancer and soubrette while touring the capes of South Africa with her two sisters, entertaining troops on leave from the Boer war. My father, Joe, followed her into the business and became a successful variety agent — our house was always full of performers. But he strongly discouraged me from becoming an actress and warned I would be washed up by 23.”
As Jackie once reflected to the Telegraph, “When I was born they really wanted a boy. Eventually, my brother was born and Joan was a movie star so they never noticed me. As a middle child, you can get away with murder. I never had to do homework. It was only when I was thrown out of school that they realized I existed, and then it was like, ‘Hollywood or reform school: get out of our lives.’ So I went to join my sister who was living in Hollywood.”
The media painted a picture of a major rivalry between the sisters, though both insisted that that wasn’t the case: “Jackie understands me more than practically any of my friends,” Joan explained, “and I have ignored her advice at my peril. She thought I was mad when I married Peter Holm and didn’t approve of my relationship with the art dealer Robin Hurlstone, so we were not as close then. Thankfully, she adores my husband Percy [Gibson], so now we’re having the best of times.”
Commented Jackie, “We are the best of friends, I know a lot of people think we’ve had problems but we never have. They see two successful sisters and that’s what they assume. I’d probably never have got to Hollywood without her and then I think I repaid her by giving her [the film] The Stud, which I wrote the screenplay for. It brought her career right back, it got her Dynasty, too. We’re extremely different. She’s very, very social, I’m not. At parties, she’ll be on the dance floor whereas I’ll sit and observe.”
No word yet on when we’ll be able to observe the TV series based on Joan and Jackie Collins — but we can’t wait.