Wed­ded bliss? Fifth time’s the charm!

It’s taken five hus­bands, but Joan Collins tells David Wigg she’s fi­nally found last­ing hap­pi­ness with Percy (32 years her ju­nior)...

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - COVER STORY -

On her right wrist Joan Collins is wear­ing a beau­ti­ful gold bracelet set with dozens of sparkly di­a­monds and the in­scrip­tion ‘Ten Glo­ri­ous Years’. It was given to her by her hus­band, Percy Gib­son, on their 10th wed­ding an­niver­sary in Fe­bru­ary. In re­turn, Joan pre­sented her tall, dark-haired, 46year-old hus­band with di­a­mond cuff­links.

This is Joan’s fifth mar­riage — de­spite two which she now ad­mits were dis­as­trous, she has al­ways be­lieved in the in­sti­tu­tion, rather than just liv­ing with some­one. ‘My par­ents were very hap­pily mar­ried and I be­lieve in it. So does my sis­ter, Jackie,’ she says. Yet when she de­cided to marry Percy, who is 32 years younger, even her clos­est friends expressed con­cern at the age gap. Joan’s re­ac­tion? ‘If he dies, he dies...’

To cel­e­brate the an­niver­sary, novelist Jackie threw a party for the cou­ple at her Hol­ly­wood home. ‘My sis­ter adores Percy, as do my daugh­ters, Tara and Katy,’ Joan says, smil­ing hap­pily. ‘The grand­chil­dren just worship him. They like him more than me! I’ve never met any­body who doesn’t like Percy be­cause he’s such a good per­son. He’s enor­mously charm­ing. I can only say our mar­riage just works. That doesn’t mean we don’t have fights. Of course we do — ev­ery­body does. Not very of­ten, but we do have them.’

We meet in the south of France where Joan and Percy are on hol­i­day and look­ing back on what she de­scribes as ‘mar­ried bliss’. She looks years younger than her true age — she will be 79 this month — and the hap­pi­est I have ever seen her. ‘I just knew he was the one. I’ve never seen any­body look in the mir­ror fewer times. He only looks in the mir­ror to shave. Which is great be­cause there’s more room in the mir­ror for me!

‘I like to have a man in my life I can de­pend on. I’ve sub­con­sciously al­ways looked for that and I re­ally hadn’t found it un­til Percy came along. So I feel he’s my rock. I to­tally look af­ter the so­cial cal­en­dar. I’m the one who says, “We’re go­ing here, we’re go­ing there.” But he ar­ranges all the trav­el­ling and man­ages the prop­er­ties.’ There are four homes, in London, St Tropez, New York and LA.

They met when she was tour­ing Amer­ica in a play and Percy was the com­pany man­ager. He grew up in Peru where his fa­ther, a trans­la­tor, was liv­ing, although his mother was Scot­tish. ‘The ap­peal was that he was in­tensely like­able and a lot of fun, very good-look­ing and ro­man­tic. Percy is one of the most won­der­ful, caring, funny peo­ple I’ve ever met. We be­came friends when we were work­ing, then we got in­volved and be­came lovers.’ Has he changed her at all? ‘Well, I’ve al­ways been good — peo­ple don’t re­alise that! I con­sider my­self a good per­son. I’ve never done any­thing bad to any­body. I have a sharp tongue, so a lot of what I say can be con­strued as bitch­i­ness. But it isn’t. I think I’m more witty than bitchy. I haven’t changed him — he was al­ways a gal­lant gentleman. How few of those there are around! He wouldn’t dream of let­ting me carry my own bag or open my own door. He’s al­ways been a first-class per­son. And, you know, I’ve been with a lot of men who are not.’

Aged just 18 she mar­ried hand­some but un­savoury movie star Maxwell Reed. Even though she tried to call it off at the last minute, her fa­ther, a re­spected London agent, in­sisted she go through with it. Next came singer An­thony New­ley, the fa­ther of two of her chil­dren, singer Tara, 48, and painter Sacha, 46, but Joan soon dis­cov­ered New­ley was in­ca­pable of be­ing faith­ful. She then mar­ried Amer­i­can film pro­ducer Ron Kass, fa­ther of Katy, 39, but he be­came hooked on drugs. It was then she fell into the arms of a good-look­ing, ex-rocker named Peter Holm — or ‘The Swede’, as Joan will now only re­fer to him. It only lasted a year with her hav­ing to pay a large di­vorce set­tle­ment. It’s un­der­stand­able she la­bels her two re­grets in life: ‘Two hus­bands — the first and the fourth.’

But it didn’t de­stroy her zest for life. ‘I got over it. If you make a mis­take, you can’t dwell on it. Ev­ery­body has mis­er­able things hap­pen to them. Of course you cry and feel be­trayed. But then the next week you go on to some­thing else. I was stupid in both those cases. With one I had the ex­cuse of be­ing 18 — and he was a mat­inée idol — but with the other I was 50, so I should have known bet­ter. But I was the best at mov­ing on. I ma­jored in it. I know that sounds flip­pant, but it isn’t. It’s what life is. I was never that wor­ried about any­thing. If I get an­gry, I’m over it very fast.’

Hav­ing been suc­cess­ful in films and TV since the 1950s, and hav­ing writ­ten sev­eral books, it’s easy for peo­ple to imag­ine Joan has had an easy life. But, she says, this is far from the truth. ‘In many ways I’ve had a very hard life. Peo­ple say, “Oh it’s all right for her with her money.” But where did I get this money? No­body gave it to me. Not my fa­ther, not my hus­bands. I’ve worked hard. And if peo­ple think it’s glam­orous get­ting up ev­ery morn­ing at 5.30am, go­ing to the stu­dios and stay­ing there un­til eight or nine,

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