On the Anniversary of Joan Collins’ Daytime Debut, a Look Back at the Beautiful Disaster That Was Her Short Stay in Soaps
Image: Aaron Spelling Prods./Courtesy of the Everett Collection
It should’ve been a roaring success; it was… er not.
On paper, it seemed like a brilliant idea to cast Dynasty icon Joan Collins as Guiding Light’s Alexandra Spaulding, the CBS soap’s answer to the actress’ iconic Alexis Carrington Colby. Heck, on screen, it seemed like a brilliant idea, too: The living legend shone in her new role like the diamonds without which her character was never fully dressed. (You can watch promos heralding her arrival below.)
But only two months after her debut — which, as a matter of fact, was 19 years ago today, September 23 — she bailed, citing scheduling conflicts with the promotion of her book, Joan’s Way: Looking Good, Feeling Great. Hurriedly, the show recast Collins with Marj Dusay, the daytime veteran that she’d replaced, and viewers were left to wonder what the heck had just happened. It felt like we’d been given a sparkly present… that was yanked away just as we’d started to get to play with it!
Despite the official reasons given for Collins’ departure — boilerplate talk of focusing on “future projects,” that kind of thing — there was talk that the diva hadn’t taken to daytime’s notoriously fast pace. (Keep in mind, Guiding Light shot five episodes in the time that it took Dynasty to shoot just one!) She also wasn’t crazy about Alex’s lines being changed, often at the last minute, the New York Post reported.
If there was a silver lining to the mess, it was that Collins’ exit paved the way for Dusay’s reentrance — so we no longer had to feel guilty about liking her successor. And Dusay had already done the unthinkable and made her own the part that had been originated by soap superstar Beverlee McKinsey. We hate it when the “guilty” bit of “guilty pleasure” is emphasized in our soap-watching!
Say, since you’re here taking a stroll down memory lane, why not keep going and check out the below photo gallery, which counts down daytime’s 20 best recasts ever. And be sure to sign up for the Soaps.com newsletter in order to have sent – free of charge — our latest stories directly to your email inbox.
Video: Guiding Light/YouTube