Joan Collins spoke out for the first time about abuse she says she suffered at the hands of her first husband, Maxwell Reed, including being raped on their first date.
The 88-year-old British actress discussed the alleged assault in a BBC documentary that aired on Saturday night in the U.K., saying that Reed spiked her drink while she visited his home. Collins was just 17 at the time; Reed was 31.
“The next thing I knew I was flat out on the sofa and he was raping me. In those days, my mother would have said I was taken advantage of,” Collins said. “Now, we call it date rape.”
Although she now accuses him of rape, Collins married Reed in 1952 “out of shame.” That marriage lasted for four years and ended, she said, after Reed told her he would pay her thousands to sleep with other men.
“We were in Les Ambassadeurs, a terribly chic nightclub in Mayfair,” she recalled in the BBC interview. “Max had a habit of gravitating towards rich, elderly men, and I was starting to get a vague idea of what this was all about. 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.”
This, unfortunately, wasn’t the only time Collins said she faced such abuse. After divorcing Reed, she said she was sexually harassed by film producer Darryl Zanuck, whom Collins said “pinned me like a beetle to a board and said, ‘You need a real man, honey, a real man’. Luckily a make-up man came down the corridor and I was able to escape.”
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, more stories have come out about the abuse that the most famous actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age suffered at the hands of the industry’s most powerful men. In November, Lana Wood, sister of famed Oscar-nominee Natalie Wood, revealed that Natalie had confided in her that she had been raped by Kirk Douglas after their mother arranged a meeting between the two. Wood said she only chose to identify her sister’s abuser after Douglas’ death in February 2020.
Collins told BBC that she considers herself a “survivor.”
“I survived being a young actress when practically all the men were predators, They used to say female stars were finished at 27, but here I am after seven decades in the business to tell you a thing or two about how to survive the perils of the profession,” she said.
“This Is Joan Collins” airs on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.