It was the late actor Gregory Peck who inspired Collins to
open up about her life in such vivid detail onstage. “About 10 years
ago I was sitting next to him at a dinner. I worked with him and he was
a very good friend, and he told me he had been going around doing this,”
Collins recounts. “So many people always asked me about my life, and I
have had a quite fascinating life, I guess. I mean, I’ve been so busy
living it that I haven’t really concentrated on thinking about how
fascinating it was. So I just sort of thought I’d like to do [this
show]. And I love doing it.”

Though she is forthright and candid
about much of her life in her new show, including her five marriages
and her drawn-out legal battle over a manuscript with Random House —
an experience that she says nearly gave her an ulcer — Collins still
believes that some things should remain private.

“I think that,
particularly in England, one of the reasons why people like me is that
they don’t know everything about me,” Collins says.

instance, I wouldn’t dream of going on Facebook or Twitter. I have a
website that says a lot about my life and my career, but I don’t do
‘Dear friends, I’m going to the supermarket today because I need a dozen

At age 76, with 13 books, a library of film and
television appearances, and a string of awards and honors to her credit,
Collins says she has no intention of slowing down on her work or
cutting back on her jet-set life with her fifth husband, Percy Gibson,
to whom she has been married since 2002.

“I believe that, as
Auntie Mame said, ‘Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving
to death,’ Collins responds when asked why she continues to work so
hard at this point in her career, when many of her contemporaries have
bowed out of the game altogether.

“I really believe in living
life to the fullest,, and as much as I love lying around on the sofa and
watching TV, I’m not so keen on doing that all the time. I love acting,
I love writing, I love performing, and I’ll just be doing that until a
cruel reality decides it’s time for me to stop.”

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