It’s all too easy to take certain actresses for granted. Over a period of years of television and film appearances, this could certainly be said about the hugely talented Pauline Collins. That is, until now.
As 76-year-old Collins shares centre stage with her namesake Joan this month in the new comedy road-trip film The Time of their Lives, we thought it was time to celebrate the life and work of one of our most treasured stars.
Here are just a few things you may not know about Pauline Collins…
1. She’ll always be our Shirley Valentine
Shirley Collins really did break the norm when it migrated from stage to screen: it thrust a middle-aged, working class Liverpool housewife’s narrative into the spotlight and gave her a voice. Shirley Valentine saw Collins capitivate theatre audiences from the West End (in 1988) to Broadway (in 1989), before wowing both critics and the box office on the big screen in the same year. There’s a reason why Collins will always be Shirley Valentine to us: she captured our hearts in the role.
2. That’s Pauline Collins, OBE, to you
Collins was awarded her OBE by the Queen in 2001. At the time, Collins remained humble as ever. “I was amazed that I should be awarded anything,” she told the press. “I think I said ‘What’s it for?'”
3. She’s been beautifully honest about her past
It must have been one of the most painful decisions Collins ever had to make. When the actress was 22-years-old, she gave birth to a baby girl called Louise. Having kept the pregnancy a secret from her family, she gave her daughter up for adoption. In a 1992 she published a memoir entitled ‘Letter to Louise – a heartbreaking account of the years that led up to this life-defining moment. ‘Every day of my life, I’ve relived that moment”, she writes, ‘replayed each second like a book of flicker pictures, clinging frame by frame to the last images of you…Why did I give you away?’
4. Dustin Hoffman loves her
When Dustin Hoffman asked Collins to star in his directorial debut “Quartet”, it’s fair to say she was more than a little surprised. “I thought, he doesn’t even know me,” she told the Guardian. After Maggie Smith recommended her, Hoffman rang her up and they chatted for two hours. The rest, as they say, is history.
5. She’s a Doctor Who veteran
In 2006, she became the third actor to have starred in both the original 1960s series and the new reboot of Doctor Who. For those who need a memory jog, Collins appeared in the episode ‘Tooth and Claw’ as Queen Victoria.