is a 1986 CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...
A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...
starring Joan Collins
Joan Henrietta Collins, OBE , is an English actress, author, and columnist. Born in Paddington and raised in Maida Vale, Collins grew up during the Second World War. At the age of nine, she made her stage debut in A Doll's House and after attending school, she was classically trained as an actress...
. An adaptation of the 1982 novel of the same name by Judith Gould
Judith Gould is a fictional American writer of romance novels, and is the pseudonym used by co-authors: Nicholas Peter "Nick" Bienes and Rhea Gallaher, who are actually both men. Gould is a New York Times bestselling author whose books have been translated into 22 languages.In addition to being...
, it is the story of a woman who survives the horrors of the Nazi occupation of France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...
and suffers a succession of challenges as she rises in the world of fashion.
Produced by New World Television, Collins also served as executive producer with her then-husband Peter Holm
Peter Holm is a former pop singer and Swedish playboy who was married to actress Joan Collins between 1985-1986...
, and the mini-series contained 85 costume changes for her role (a record for a single production). Carly Simon
Carly Elisabeth Simon is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and children's author. She rose to fame in the 1970s with a string of hit records, and has since been the recipient of two Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe Award for her work...
co-wrote and performed the theme song, "It's Hard to be Tender."
Helene Junot is a successful businesswoman and a leading name in the world of fashion. In 1980s New York, she attends a reception for the launch of her new magazine, "Woman Of Today", which could make or break her publishing company. Meanwhile, several people from Helene's past are conspiring to destroy her.
Born in France, Helene grew up during World War II. When she was 13, the Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...
(led by the sadistic Nazi commander, Karl Von Eiderfeld) murdered her pregnant mother when she was caught sending messages for the Allied Forces. Meanwhile, Helene is raped and brutalised at the hands of the Nazis. Though she later escapes from their clutches, her younger brother and sister, Edmund and Marie, have been deported to a concentration camp.
In 1949, with the war over, Helene goes to work as a dressmaker with her aunt at the grand home of the Count and Countess De Ville. There, she begins to show her talents as a fashion designer and also is wooed by the Count's son, Hubert. However, Hubert's parents do not approve of him seeing a "servant girl" which ends their romance and Helene leaves.
In 1955, Helene moves to Paris and begins working for leading fashion designer, Odile. After a couple of years working as a model, Odile makes Helene a director at her fashion house. In 1959, Helene meets and falls in love with an American army officer named David Westfield when he is visiting Paris, but their affair is short-lived when David is transferred to Vietnam and is killed in action. At the same time, Helene has hired an investigator named Otto Mueller, as she wants to find her brother and sister and the Gestapo commander responsible for the death of her mother years earlier. However, the search will be costly, and Helene agrees to become the mistress of the abusive Count De Ville (Hubert's father) in order to finance her search, much to Hubert's dismay and humiliation. Mueller succeeds in finding Helene's brother Edmund, now a grown man but living in a mental institution in a permanently catatonic state after years of torture and abuse at the hands of the Nazis. Helene takes him home with her and hires a doctor and a nurse to bring him back to health.
Helene also meets American composer Eric Hovland, an older man whom she falls in love with and marries. However, their marriage is short-lived when Hubert De Ville, still obsessed with Helene, breaks into their home and tries to rape her. When Eric tries to protect her, Hubert murders him, but threatens to use his family connections to blame Helene for the crime if she reports him. Helene reluctantly agrees and tells the police it was an accident, but then discovers that the incident and their conversation afterwards had been taped as Eric was recording music at his piano at the time. She then blackmails the De Villes for 100 million francs, or she will have Hubert arrested for murder and destroy their family's reputation. Count De Ville reluctantly agrees and Helene uses the money to begin her own fashion magazine, "Couture". However her victory over the De Villes is bittersweet as she finds out she is pregnant with Eric's child, but miscarries and learns she can never have children because of an injury she sustained after being raped by the Nazis during the war. Soon after, Otto Mueller contacts Helene as he has tracked down the ex-Nazi commander Karl Von Eiderfeld, who is now a wealthy businessman living in Austria. Helene and Edmund have him prosecuted as a Nazi war criminal and he is sentenced to life imprisonment, but vows to have revenge on Helene.
In the 1960s, Helene then throws herself into her work and Couture becomes a huge success, while Edmund marries his nurse, Jeanne. However, when she is pregnant with their first child, Jeanne becomes ill. The baby is born prematurely but Jeanne dies, leaving Edmund to raise their daughter, Natalie, alone. Meanwhile, Helene meets Italian publisher Marcello D'Itri, who tries to secure a loan from her to save his floundering fashion magazine. Helene offers to buy his magazine, on the condition that it is renamed "Couture Italiana", but with Marcello kept on as editor-in-chief, to which he agrees. But whilst she is in Venice, Helene then runs into David Westfield, the American officer she fell in love with years earlier, who did not die in Vietnam as reported and has been trying to contact Helene for years. Now a U.S. congressman, David asks Helene to marry him, but David's mother does not approve of their engagement as she feels it will ruin David's future career due to Helene's somewhat chequered past. Also knowing that she cannot give David children, Helene reluctantly breaks off their engagement.
Some years later in the 1970s, Helene's empire has expanded and she hires American architect Steve Bryant, and his jealous wife Zizi, to design and build a new skyscraper, named the Junot Tower, in New York. Steve falls in love with Helene, much to Zizi's annoyance, but their relationship remains platonic.
In 1982, at a fancy dress ball in Venice to mark the 50th issue of Couture Italiana, Helene learns that Marcello has been embezzling from the magazine behind her back, and she forces him to resign. Helene once again meets David Hillfield at the party, who is now a married U.S. senator. Moments later, Hubert De Ville arrives at the ball to gloat that Karl Von Eiderfeld was released from prison that day. Some time later, Helene finally begins a relationship with Steve Bryant, but when his wife Zizi finds the two of them together, Steve suffers a heart attack and dies. Zizi blames Helene for his death.
A couple of years later, Helene's enemies; Karl Von Eiderfeld, Hubert De Ville, Marcello D'Itri, and Zizi Bryant, join forces in a conspiracy to destroy her. Helene has launched a new magazine, "Woman Of Today", but has taken out huge loans and sold off a large amount of stock in her company, Junot Publications, in order to finance it. When the first issue is a failure, Helene's enemies buy up large portions of the stock between them. They also manage to lure Helene's long-time editorial associate, Luba Tcherina, away from her, whilst bribing her banker, Adam Gore, into calling in her outstanding loans so that she will become bankrupt. However, Marcello and Zizi are not content to merely ruin Helene, they want to kill her and hire a hitman with an attack dog to mutilate her. Helene's enemies are foiled, first when her banker Adam Gore is exposed for fraud and commits suicide, saving Helene from bankruptcy, and then when an attempt on her life fails. Her enemies then turn on themselves, and in an ensuing struggle, Zizi shoots and kills Von Eiderfeld. Meanwhile, Helene has gained precious time to relaunch her new magazine, this time with her talented niece Natalie at the helm. The second issue is a huge success, but not before Helene is shot by the hitman who was hired to kill her as he attempts to carry out his contract. However, she is only wounded and survives, whilst David kills the hitman. After she recovers, David divorces his wife and the two of them later marry. Finally finding true happiness, Helene decides to hand her publishing empire over to Natalie to run.
was filmed in 1985 at Studios de Billancourt in Paris, and on location in France, Italy, and New York. Many of Joan Collins' costumes for the mini-series were designed by Valentino
Valentino SpA is a clothing company founded in 1959 by Valentino Garavani. Nowadays it is a part of Valentino Fashion Group. New creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli will take Alessandra Facchinetti's seat as creative designer...
was released on home video in the 1980s and 90s, and released on DVD (in a 3-disc set) in 2003. Although the mini-series was originally shown in three parts, the DVD has the version shown on syndicated television and is split into seven episodes of varying lengths (between 30 minutes and 55 minutes each). Only the first episode includes the opening credit sequence.
The DVD "special features" consist of written profiles for Joan Collins, Timothy Dalton, Marisa Berenson, Jean-Pierre Aumont, and Joseph Bologna, as well as a photo gallery section and weblinks for Collins and Dalton.