Belfast Telegraph

Collins 'humbled' over dame honour

Joan Collins, who is made a dame in the New Year Honours List, has said the recognition for her decades of charity work was "humbling".

The 81-year-old actress, a devoted monarchist, said she was "deeply honoured".

She said: "It is humbling to receive this level of recognition from my Queen and country, and I am thrilled and truly grateful."

The star has been a regular on stage and screen for more than half a century, but is probably best known for her portrayal of the bitchy Alexis in Dynasty. The glamorous US soap opera, with its lavish costumes complete with startling shoulder pads and big bouffant hairstyles, ran for most of the 1980s and made Joan a star all over again.

She was born to a showbusiness family - her mother was a dancer and her father an agent - in London and enjoyed early success in the British film industry before heading to Hollywood.

Joan has worked steadily for decades with occasional gaps for marriage - she is currently on her fifth husband - and bringing up her family. Notable roles include featuring in two X-rated bonkbusters, The Stud and The Bitch, based on racy books by her sister Jackie.

Film appearances include a remake of The Big Sleep starring Robert Mitchum and she has featured in TV shows including Star Trek, The Man From U.N.C.L.E and more recently ITV sitcom Benidorm.

Joan has used her fame to support a variety of good causes including the NSPCC and the Shooting Star Chase children's hospice.

Esther Rantzen, who is also recognised in the latest list, said that her "greatest wish" was that her husband had lived to see her become a Dame.

The TV presenter and campaigner will receive the title for services to children and older people, having established telephone helplines for both children in distress or danger and older people experiencing isolation.

She was married to documentary maker Desmond Wilcox for 30 years. He died in 2000, and she set up The Silver Line, a helpline for older people, after writing an article about her own experiences of loneliness.

Dame Esther, 74, said: "I am thrilled that this honour recognises the contribution made by ChildLine and The Silver Line in transforming lives, and I am delighted that the talented teams at both charities have also been recognised for their inspirational work and devotion to the most vulnerable children and older people in our society.

"I feel completely committed to the work of both charities and it is a wonderful honour to receive in my 75th year. My greatest wish is that Desmond could be here to share this news - he would have been so excited."

A broadcaster best known for presenting BBC series That's Life!, she set up ChildLine in 1986 to provide support to children and young people experiencing neglect and abuse, and the service has helped more than three million children.

Dame Esther received a CBE in 2006 for services to young people in recognition of the work of the charity.

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