Life for Miss Collins, now 61, may not quite imitate art but it certainly continues to resemble Dynasty, the television soap opera in which she played the bitchy Alexis and with which she is forever associated.
Miss Collins, star of the films The Bitch and The Stud in the late 1970's, has more recently taken to writing novels, two of which reached the bookstands.
The publishers Random House signed a dollars 3m ( pounds 2m) deal for more. Miss Collins, who is British-born but lives in the US, was paid an advance of dollars 1m to pen two racy novels, A Ruling Passion and Hell Hath No Fury. The latter title was to prove very apt.
According to Ken Burrows, her lawyer, Miss Collins is a diligent author who delivered the first manuscript, about a Princess Diana-type figure, in September 1991 and the second, about a spurned wife's revenge, a year later. But Random House claims the books have not been delivered and has begun a claim against Miss Collins in the New York Federal Court demanding the advance back.
The actress has hit back, lodging the counter-claim for dollars 2m for the remaining payments from Random House.
Some reports have claimed that Random House launched its action because the books were so bad they were unpublishable. But Mr Burrows said yesterday that this had not been mentioned in the court documents. 'This is not an issue . . . Their claim is that the books have not been delivered, while hers is that under the contract she has done all that she has been required to do.'
'All the contract said was that the author should deliver the manuscripts on time and without infringing anybody else's copyright. Under this, Joan gets paid even if the publishers don't want to publish them.'
Random House declined to comment yesterday. The legal battle will last for years and Miss Collins is understood to have found a new publisher for her future literary efforts.