Dame Joan Collins, 88, reveals five marriages in new documentary

Dame Joan Collins, 88, reveals how her first husband drugged and raped her on their first date, while she was warned by Marilyn Monroe about Hollywood ‘wolves’ in new documentary about her life

  • Dame Joan Collins, 88, stars in new documentary about her life on BBC1 tonight
  • During the feature length film, she talks frankly about her five marriages 
  • She reveals how film star Maxwell Reed tried to pimp her out for £10,000 a night
  • Called herself a ‘survivor’ and recalled advice from Marilyn Monroe in the film 

Dame Joan Collins has revealed how her first husband raped her on their first date as she remembered details of her five marriages in a new documentary.

This is Joan Collins, which airs tonight on BBC2 at 9pm, follows the 88-year-old star, who is known for sporting an array of shoulder pads as Alexis Colby in US soap Dynasty from 1981 to 1989, as she opens up about her life and relationships.

In one shocking moment, she revealed how her ex-husband film star Maxwell Reed – whom she married out of ‘shame’ after he raped her on their first date – tried to pimp her out to ‘old rich men’ for £10,000 a night.

Meanwhile she also explained how Marilyn Monroe told her to watch out for ‘wolves’ in Hollywood, including Daryl Zanuck, who later pinned her against the wall in an attempted sex attack.

Dame Joan Collins has revealed how her first husband raped her on their first date as she remembered details of her five marriages in a new documentary set to air tonight (pictured with her husband Percy Gibson) 

Joan, who was born in Maida Vale, spoke about her childhood with her parents, Elsa and Joseph Collins.

She said: ‘Mum was busy trying to please [my father] all the time and I hated it.

‘I vowed I’m not going to depend on a man for everything. I have to have my own identity.’

She  explained how she began landing film roles at the age of 17, dropping out of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and quickly began earning up to £300 a week.

In one shocking moment, she revealed how her ex-husband film star Maxwell Reed – whom she married out of ‘shame’ after he raped her on their first date – tried to pimp her out to ‘old rich men’ for £10,000 a night (pictured together) 

However her father – who was a successful theatrical agent – was less than impressed by her career choice.

The five marriages of Dame Joan Collins 

24 May 1952 – Married her first husband Maxwell Reed

1956 – Divorced Reed 

1963 – Married her second husband Anthony Newley

1969 – Divorced Newley 

1972 – Married her third husband Ron Kass 

1983 – Divorced Kass

1985 – Married her fourth husband Peter Holm 

1987 – Divorced Holm 

2002 – Married her fifth husband Percy Gibson  

She recalled: ‘He didn’t want me to be in showbiz because he knew the pitfalls.

‘He said, ‘You’ll be finished by 23 and the men are so predatory’. He knew before the Me Too movement how the men were.’

After starring as a rebellious teenager in I Believe in You, Joan was introduced to her first husband Reed, who was 14 years her senior.

She remembered being asked out by the film star, explaining: ‘The gigantic powder blue Buick drew up outside Bayswater Tube station.

‘He had an American accent which was quite odd for a man from South London.

‘He was 31, and I was 17 and a virgin – I knew that would cause trouble at home.’

Joan was still a virgin when she went on a date with the famous film star Reed and was offered a drink while at his house.

When he went to take a bath, he gave her a rum and coke to drink and some books to read. 

She was drugged with what was then known as a ‘Mickey Finn’ and could be Rohypnol and woke up on the man’s living room floor to find him having sex with her.

Through a sense of guilt over being attacked, Joan went on to marry Maxwell and was subjected to abuse throughout their four-year marriage, culminating in the actor attempting to sell her to a sheikh for £10,000.

She said: ‘Had I not been so innocent about sex and the way things should be I wouldn’t have done that, but I had a strong sense of guilt, so I did it.

‘The honeymoon was a fiasco. We looked outwardly happy but underneath I was miserable.’

Her second marriage was to British actor-composer Anthony Newley (pictured making their first public appearance after their wedding) 

While her star was rising in Hollywood, her marriage was falling apart, with the final straw coming after he tried to pimp her out to Arab Sheikh at Les Ambassadeurs Casino for thousands of pounds.

She said: ‘He gravitated towards rich old men and that night I found out why,’ she says.

‘Max told me, ‘He’ll pay you £10,000 for one night – and I can even watch’. I looked at my handsome, loathsome husband and began to cry. ‘Never in a million years.’

‘I went home to Mummy.’

Joan moved on, marrying third husband Ron Kass in 1972, and welcoming a daughter, Katy, with the then head of the Beatles’ record label Apple (pictured) 

When she filed from divorce, he asked for £950 per month, claiming he had ‘discovered’ her and therefore deserved a cut of her wage.

She confessed the marriage cost her £7,500 – an incredible £1.9 million today.

Having left Reed, she threw herself into Hollywood life, partying with Marilyn Monroe at Gene Kelly’s home.

After being warned about Zanuck, she remember how he ‘chased her along a corridor’ and ‘trapped her against the wall.’ 

She said: ‘He pinned me like a beetle to a board and said, ‘You need a real man honey, a real man’. 

She divorced from Kass in 1983, and went on to meet her fourth husband, Scandinavian singer Peter Holm, at a party (pictured) 

‘Luckily a make-up man came down the corridor and I was able to escape.’ 

Meanwhile she called Welsh star Richard Burton, whom she starred with in the Sea Wife, a ‘neanderthal’.

‘It’s just closing down debates’: Dame Joan Collins, 88, brands cancel culture ‘tragic’ and ‘boring’ and insists she is NOT worried about it 

Meanwhile, Dame Joan has insisted she would not ‘judge’ Chris Noth after allegations were made against the Sex and the City actor of sexual abuse.

Earlier this month, four women accused the 67-year-old of sexual assault, something he denies, adding in a statement that any allegations were ‘categorically false’.

Speaking on Christmas Day’s Woman’s Hour podcast released on BBC Radio 4, Dame Joan was asked how she would deal with the advances of men as a young woman in Hollywood.

She explained how she coped ‘by laughing a lot’ and would not hesitate to give ‘a stiff knee to the nether regions’.

On Noth, she added: ‘Who knows what he did? I know him, and I’m not going to judge him, because who knows who these women are? But his career is wrecked, absolutely wrecked, in doing what he did.

‘I think that men – certainly men in my business – have to be quite a bit more careful, because we were abused.

‘It’s just that I happened to be a particularly tough person, so it did not fracture my life.’


She said: ‘We had onscreen chemistry but then he made the obligatory pass, as most actors do, and he charmingly admitted to me he would ‘bonk a snake if it was wearing a skirt. 

‘No way was I tempted although I saw many other women fall like ninepins at his feet. He was known to be a wolf – I’m surprised Elizabeth [Taylor] married him.’ 

Her second marriage came in 1963 when she tied-the-knot with British pop star and serial cheater Anthony Newley, the father of her two children Tara and Alexander, now 58 and 56. 

However the relationship was only to last six years.   

The final straw came when Newly produced and starred a largely autobiographical film about a hero who is torn between a blonde and the mother of his children, whom Joan played herself.

Speaking of the movie Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?, she said: ‘He was spelling out the death of our marriage.

‘I realised he’d been having affairs since the day we married, and now he was blatantly making a movie about all the women he’d bedded. I was shattered.’

Joan moved on, marrying third husband Ron Kass in 1972, and welcoming a daughter, Katy, with the then head of the Beatles’ record label Apple.

However the family fell on hard times after Kass moved them to LA for a job as a studio head which fell through.  

Joan starred in B-list movies and even once queued for an unemployment cheque. 

Tragedy struck when Katy, then nine, was hit by a car and suffered a catastrophic brain injury in 1980.

She said: ‘I was told she was going to die and she was in a coma for a long time.

‘Eventually she started to make little sounds and then she took her first faltering steps. She was going to be alright.

‘Katy’s accident was the worst thing that had ever happened to me.’

After Katy recovered, Joan learned the family were almost bankrupt after Kass had taken out a huge loan for their home in LA.  

She divorced from Kass in 1983, and went on to meet her fourth husband, Scandinavian singer Peter Holm, at  a party.

Joan, then at the height of her fame as Alexis in the TV soap Dynasty, said she thought Holm was charming, open and honest. 

Joan claimed that he became her manager, sacked all her advisers – accountant, lawyer, agent – installed a powerful computer to keep track of her business affairs, and within weeks had already drawn up a prenuptial agreement in the hope that she would marry him as soon as she had divorced her third husband, Ron Kass. 

They wed in 1985, but according to Collins, Peter became increasingly controlling, with Joan saying: ‘None of my friends liked him but I stupidly didn’t listen… 

‘The trouble was I was far too stubborn to admit I’d made a terrible mistake.’ 

Meanwhile Joan said Holm’s behaviour had changed rapidly after the wedding, as though he no longer needed to pretend to love her. He became bossy and dogmatic, criticised Joan in public, sneered at her looks and made snide remarks about her age.

 The pair split in 1987. In court he demanded to be given £35,000-a-month living expenses – £60,000 in today’s terms – as well as the LA house and their villa in the South of France. 

Finally, Joan recalled how she met and married fifth husband Percy Gibson – 32 years her junior – in 2000 when he managed a theatre production she was in.

She said: ‘It was giddy, it was fantastic and Percy and I fell madly in love.

‘I’ve finally found my true soulmate. And my husband forever.’

Meanwhile she continued: ‘I know I’ve had a lucky life but I’ve also had my fair share of disaster and unhappiness.

‘There have been miserable, horrible divorces, the terrible situation when my daughter almost died, bankruptcy, almost, not getting any work as an actor. A lot.

‘But who wants reality? There’s already too much of it in today’s world, that’s not what the public pay for.’

This is Joan Collins airs on BBC2 on January 1 at 9pm.

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