Dinner with my son Sacha at The Ivy. Supposed to be joined by [producer] Gary Pudney, but he doesn’t call or show. That’s Hollywood, folks.
At the next table is Jennifer Aniston, the current crème de la crème heartthrob of Friends. I’ve never seen such slender arms. Also at the next table is an unrecognisable Cheryl Tiegs. Why do women over 40 think they can go around wearing no make-up?
I am wearing my new simple look. Since Hollywood has embraced this in a big way, you leave the pearls and the glitz and the diamonds and the big hair at home. This is a bit difficult for me as I rather like it.
Joan Collins, 88, (pictured) dishes tales from her new memoir My Unapologetic Diaries as she documents dinners and events with her celebrity friends in London and Hollywood in the 90s
November 25, 1996
The British Consul General, Mr Merrick Baker-Bates called with a message for me: ‘Mr Major would like to know how you would feel about accepting an OBE — Order of the British Empire.’ My mouth dropped open.
I mean, this does not exactly happen to a girl every day. Considering that I’m not having the greatest success with my career right now, it gave me a very optimistic feeling.
Off with the old, and on with the new. That’s two agents I’ve fired in as many weeks.
Huge party at Aaron Spelling’s. I like Aaron, but one cannot take anything he says seriously. Neither can one take anything any television executives say seriously. They are as fickle as amoeba, constantly changing and moving with the tide.
The Spelling house was so gorgeously decorated that it seemed strange the food was just chicken sandwiches and cold cuts from Nate ’N’ Al’s. Can’t they afford a chef?
Afterwards went to Stefanie Power’s party and bumped into David Niven Jnr, Judy Quine and darling Sydney Guilaroff, the famous hairdresser from MGM. He was very sweet, and he is nearly blind. He even did Garbo.
We reminisced about The Opposite Sex, when I sat in the hair and make-up room with Liz Taylor, Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner. I was so shy I couldn’t speak.
January 12, 1997
A lot has happened on the Aaron Spelling front. Dined with Aaron and [Dynasty clothes designer] Nolan Miller, Candy Spelling and Joanne Carson [ex-wife of television host Johnny Carson] at Spago [Beverly Hills restaurant].
Aaron said that he wanted me very much to be in Pacific Palisades and that my agent Tom Chasin was an idiot. He said I must fire my agent and go to CAA.
Instead of giving me $40,000 an episode, he would give me $45,000!
I said, ‘OK, why not!’
Aaron was terribly excited and made this toast: ‘My baby’s back with me again.’
I think he was a little drunk, but nevertheless he can be very sweet. But I also think that money’s the only thing that matters to people in La La Land.
Today the goalposts have been moved a bit. It’s only three episodes. Plus my agent informs me that when reminded he’d agreed to the ‘45 thou’ an episode, Aaron said, ‘Absolutely not, I only agreed on 40.’
I’m completely stunned by this turnaround since Aaron did say he would pay 45 in front of a whole group at Spago. That’s Hollywood, folks. I guess I’ll bite the bullet, although I’m quite shattered by the fact Aaron can lie so blatantly.
Movie queen: She writes that in December 1996, she fired two agents in two weeks. Pictured: Joan and Lucky Vanous in Pacific Palisades (1997)
January 25 — New York
Bumped into Gert-Rudolf (‘Muck’) Flick, a scion like his younger brother Friedrich Christian (‘Mick’) of the Flick family of German industrialists. Tall, good-looking and very sure of himself. He asked me out and I said maybe!
Jeffrey [Lane] and I went to Muck Flick’s apartment for drinks. Lo and behold, when we went into his library every bookshelf was filled only with copies of my memoir Second Act. There must have been at least 1,000. I was very flattered, and slightly embarrassed. I signed a couple of copies. Then Muck asked me if he could throw a dinner party for me in London to celebrate receiving my OBE, as he’s a fan. I said yes, and he told me to put together a guest-list. Sounds great.
The last three weeks have been a total whirl. True to his word, Aaron Spelling called and told me to contact Steve Tellez from CAA. Which I duly did. CAA is the top agency in town and I had been told previously they were not interested in little old me. However, a word from Aaron and suddenly things change.
February 28 — London
Lunch with Muck Flick at Harry’s Bar. He still wants to give a party for me on March 11 to celebrate my OBE, but wants to uninvite Adrian Gill and his girlfriend Nicola Formby.
This is because Adrian, who is the Sunday Times restaurant critic under the name A.A. Gill, has written a very unflattering piece about Anouska Weinberg, or Hempel as she was known.
Adrian wrote: ‘She’s a 1960s model, actress, whatever, frock maker and innkeeper, and a knight’s wife who has pushed and elbowed her way into the A–Z without even having the decency to wait until she’s dead. If you can think of a more embarrassing and crass piece of nouveau riche, arriviste social climbing, I can’t.’
I was vaguely aware of the article, but since I have ghastly things written about me all the time, I didn’t take much notice. However, Muck seems to think this is a cause célèbre, and wants to disinvite Adrian and Nicola. I tell him I don’t know how I could possibly do that — it’s the rudest thing.
During lunch, Donatella Flick, the fiery Italian soon-to-be ex-wife of Muck, arrived and gave me the chilliest greeting of all time.
March 2 — Los Angeles
Receive a call from Muck Flick, sounding military. He says that he has sorted out Gill and disinvited him. I am utterly appalled.
‘How can you do this? Wouldn’t it be better for Anouska not to come if it’s going to be so embarrassing for her?’
Muck seems to think not. I call Adrian, profusely apologising. Adrian thinks it’s all a hoot and doesn’t take much notice, but I am mortified. What an outrageous thing to do. I think I’ll disinvite myself.
Went to the party at Greville House after the premiere of The English Patient. I’ve seen it twice already and couldn’t stomach it again. I bump into Francesca Annis on the stairs, looking rather pleased with herself as she has just snared Ralph Fiennes.
Many friends come over, including Bianca Jagger; we have our usual chat about why we hardly ever see each other. This could be because she lives in New York and I live in London, LA or on a plane.
Seriously investigating the clothes situation for my OBE investiture. David Emanuel and Co. come over with very pretty lilac fabric and we discuss the suit.
I tell him I will have lost seven or eight pounds by next Monday, but he is doubtful.
‘You don’t know what I can do when I put my mind to it,’ I say.
Muck Flick is certainly behaving extremely strangely. A fax arrives from his secretary Philippa saying, ‘Mr Flick would like to have John Reid’s telephone number so that he can disinvite him and his friend.’ Utterly appalled, I call Muck, only to be told he is unavailable.
Philippa says Muck thought that, since Elton John was not coming, neither should [his manager] John Reid. ‘How can he disinvite two of the people on the list that I actually know?’ I ask. ‘After all, isn’t it supposed to be a party for me?’
I tell her that I won’t give her John Reid’s telephone number because I think it’s too unutterably rude. Half an hour later, another fax from Philippa: ‘Mr Flick says that if he doesn’t have John Reid’s telephone number by 5 o’clock, he will pull the trigger.’
I don’t know what he means. We have ways of making you talk? I call Philippa and say if he wants to ‘pull the trigger’, whatever that means, go ahead. I’m disgusted. Within half an hour another fax, this time from Muck: ‘Dear Joan, here’s the situation. [Joan’s then partner] Robin Hurlstone, John Reid and his friend, Sue St John, Stella Wilson, Paul Raben, Roger Moore, Kristina Tholstrup and yourself are disinvited. Best regards, Muck.
To say that I am stunned is putting it mildly — I’m extremely upset.
While I’m out, John Reid speaks to Christopher Biggins, who has spoken to Louise Fennell [wife of jewellery designer Theo], and by the time I get back it’s a done deal. John Reid is going to give the party on the Flick night.
The Fennells say they have never heard of such disgusting social behaviour and are cancelling going to Muck’s, as is Christopher Biggins.
All in all, a hell of a day.
Receive a flurry of phone calls from everybody who has heard about the party cancellation.
All of my friends have disinvited themselves, among them Andrew and Madeleine Lloyd Webber, Tim and Virginia Bell, Charles and Pandora Delevingne.
Call Roger Moore and tell him about the Anouska Hempel/ A.A. Gill situation and ask him if he still wants to come, as it is now only going to be a party for 20 rather than 40.
He says, ‘I don’t want to see f***ing Muck Flick, I want to see you and congratulate you.’
I order a dozen T-shirts with ‘The Uninvited — 12 March 1997’ printed on them to give to my guests.
Final fitting at David Emanuel’s for the suit and the Philip Somerville hat. They both look great. I’ve lost 7lb by dint of practically eating nothing.
Stage fright! On this glorious spring morning as I passed through the historic portals of Buckingham Palace, that familiar feeling started. My mouth was suddenly dry and butterflies were playing tag in my stomach, even though I was thrilled to bits.
My son [Alexander Newley, known as Sacha] accompanied me to the palace. I had asked [my partner] Robin Hurlstone, but he’d sneered, ‘I’m not going to Buck House with you just to get a silly little OBE. Maybe if it were a Damehood then I’d accompany you.’ I was speechless.
One hundred and forty of today’s honourees, including a handful of knights, were gathering nervously inside the palace gates, watched by well-wishers outside.
Honoured: Her stories include meeting Paul McCartney at Buckingham Palace in 1997 as she collected her OBE. Pictured: Joan shows off her OBE with her son Sacha by her side
We walked up red-carpeted steps to the entrance hall, then I was ushered past solemn Beefeaters in their dazzling red-and-gold uniforms up more stairs towards the portrait gallery.
Just before I went in, a fellow performer hugged me.
‘Hello, luv, how’re you doing? Are you nervous?’ said Paul McCartney, there to receive his well-deserved knighthood.
‘I’m scared stiff, are you?’ I asked.
Finally, summoned in batches of 20 outside the great ballroom, we stood in line and with much neck-craning managed to see the Queen. Stately in royal blue and pearls, she was pinning a medal on each recipient while a five-piece band played show tunes.
It was almost my turn. My mouth was the Gobi Desert now, my knees knocking. Everything seemed effortlessly simple, yet the pomp and circumstance that pervaded the proceedings were redolent of an age of grandeur.
‘Are you all right?’ asked the kindly equerry who stood beside me. ‘I’m petrified,’ I whispered. He looked amazed.
Then I was announced and, as instructed, I strode confidently into the ballroom, turned to the Queen, performed a deep curtsey, which I managed to do without falling flat on my face, took six paces forward, approached the dais and stood before my monarch.
‘I’m very, very happy to be giving this to you,’ the Queen said as she busied herself with pinning on my medal.
‘Thank you, Your Majesty,’ I said, my nervousness evaporating. She spoke for the allotted few seconds then held out her hand. I shook it, walked five paces backwards, curtseyed again and marched out, mission accomplished.
Had a call later from Donatella Flick, who’d obviously heard the news about the uninvitings. I told her, ‘Darling, you deserve a copy of my OBE for what you put up with from that man.’
At eight o’clock I went to John Reid’s in full black-tie regalia. Roger Moore and Kristina arrived first, always on time. They’d just flown in from Switzerland.
Adrian and Nicola (the original uninvited) were there, along with the Bells, the Delevingnes, Paul Raben, Sue, Stella, Duncan McLaren and Robin.
The dinner, which started with caviar and blinis, then duck and then a rather delicious pud, was excellent. Several speeches were made, then Roger got up and hysterically read out the ‘Collected Works of Muck Flick’.
He did a lot of this with a German accent which had us literally hugging our sides with laughter.
Andrew Lloyd Webber started playing the piano. As usual he asked me, ‘Why didn’t you play Norma Desmond?’
As usual I told him that I couldn’t sing well enough. He then started playing show tunes and I sang along with him.
Had dinner with Adrian Gill and Nicola Formby at Nobu, the Japanese restaurant at the Metropolitan Hotel that’s the new hot spot in London.
Paula Yates, balancing a gorgeous baby on one hip, came over to say hello, and to tell Adrian that he was the only person who had ever written anything nice about her.
‘So can I give you a b*** job?’ she said boldly. Even Adrian looked surprised.
I can see Paula’s charm and why she managed to wrest Michael Hutchence away from Helena Christensen. She’s sassy, sexy, and speaks her mind. I can also see why she’s hated.
She reveals a scandalous proposal by Paula Yates (pictured) who offer a sexual favour to restaurant critic A.A. Gill after meeting him at dinner at Nobu in London
We asked why the baby was out so late. ‘Oh, I take Heavenly Hiraani with me everywhere,’ she said. ‘I have to. I breastfeed her every half an hour.’ Nicola and I looked at each other, somewhat stunned.
‘Every half an hour?’ I said. ‘How long is this going to go on for?’
‘Well, the last one I breast-fed until she was three years old,’ she said. ‘In fact I met Warren Beatty at a party and I was talking to him when Pixie came in, undid my dress and started having a swig. Warren looked quite nonplussed, raised his eyebrows and walked away.’
Paula laughed and we laughed back. She was quite endearing.
Lunch at the Delevingnes, where I played with my godchildren: Cara Delevingne, who is four, and Coco Fennell, who’s seven. Both children are adorable and it was a very jolly family day.
March 24 — Los Angeles
Arrived at the Vanity Fair Oscars party at Morton’s in broad daylight at quarter to six. During the commercial breaks, I did some tentative table-hopping. Ryan O’Neal, who’s separated from Farrah Fawcett, was chatting up Bianca Jagger.
Everyone was disappointed that Lauren Bacall did not win Best Supporting Actress. The English Patient seemed to get a hell of a lot of awards, although I was surprised that Kristin Scott Thomas didn’t pull off Best Actress. I was thrilled for Geoffrey Rush in Shine.
After two hours decided to hit another party — Elton John’s Aids Benefit. It was quite a happening, with every hairdresser and decorator in Los Angeles attending. John Reid found me in the throng and took me into an inner sanctum to see Elton. He was wearing a new brown floppy hairpiece, quite fetching, and a lovely butterfly brooch en tremblant.
After talking to Seal and Trudie Styler and lots of other people, we sat with Lulu and her husband. She was utterly sweet. She looks great and we became a mutual admiration society.
Tottered out about one thirty. Home at two. It’s been a hard day’s night — eight hours of schmoozing and boozing.
First day on the set of Pacific Palisades where everybody looks to be about 12 years old. What a difference to my first day on Dynasty when I felt cold antipathy from John Forsythe, Linda Evans and various others. Here they are welcoming me like I’m some sort of queen. I think people are quite impressed by the OBE.
I go to bed early, trying to lose a few pounds by eating only broccoli. I know Mummy used to say you’ve got to suffer to be beautiful, but I’m permanently starving.
It’s great to be back in series TV. Well, it is. Still get that Norma Desmond feeling sometimes!
Nolan and I dressed ‘casual’ as instructed and went to Candy and Aaron Spelling’s house for dinner and a movie. We sat in Aaron’s study, which is lined with bookshelves containing leatherbound copies of all the scripts he’s ever made, from Mod Squad to The Love Boat, Charlie’s Angels, Dynasty, Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place.
‘I gotta show you your rushes,’ he said excitedly. ‘They’re just great and you look fantastic.’
Nolan brought down the tape and I was pleased to see I am not the only person who has difficulty with TV video equipment, as Candy couldn’t work it and had to call the English butler to help.
‘He used to work for the Queen Mother,’ boasted Candy. Aaron said, ‘And he’s quite a fan of yours!’
Saw the night-time scene and the pool scene and thought they were OK, although I hate watching myself on rushes as I am super-hypercritical.
Dinner was sent in as they are having chef problems. Aaron read us a poem he’d written about Candy and her 16 cooks.
Their home is probably one of the biggest and most lavish in LA, but they are having to sue the builder for $3 million because the roof is leaking and it’s costing $750,000 to get it fixed.
Scaffolding encroaches around the front of the house, rather spoiling the view.
After ten minutes [at the Eclipse restaurant with the Spellings] that famous movie star Mr Steven Seagal sloped over, said hello to me and everyone else, then plonked himself uninvited next to Aaron and proceeded to monopolise him for 20 minutes.
He was pitching a project and Aaron, who is always charming to everyone, listened, smiling and nodding and looking interested. The rest of us could not believe the effrontery of this asshole.
After 20 minutes Seagal left and we got on with a fine dinner and plenty of caviar. Believe it or not, Mr Seagal returned towards the end of dinner to introduce his fat manager and say, ‘We gotta make this deal.’
He then said a fond farewell to Aaron and acknowledged neither me nor anyone else.
Extracted from My Unapologetic Diaries by Joan Collins, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on October 14 at £20. © Joan Collins 2021. To order a copy for £17 (offer valid to 17/10/21; UK P&P free on orders over £20), visit www.mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193. Dame Joan Collins is on tour in London, Bath and Salford from October 11 to 17. For tickets and further information, go to fane.co.uk/joan-collins.