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About JoEllen Collins

Collins was born and adopted in California, the daughter of a radio announcer who directed the San Francisco USO during World War II. Her earliest memories are of sitting on her father's lap in front of a microphone and asking for donations for the war effort. She has continued performing, on radio, television, and in theater, and has been a member of AFTRA/SAG since she was seventeen. When she lived in Los Angeles, she appeared in commercials and had formal training in acting at U.C.L.A., the Burbank Studios, and in professional theater workshops.

Among her Idaho stage roles were Amanda in The Glass Menagerie and Mrs. Gibbs in Our Town, and several appearances in musical productions with the St. Thomas Playhouse.


She was an English teacher at Santa Monica and Beverly Hills High Schools, where she also directed the debate team, and at Santa Monica College and the College of Southern Idaho. She has continued to teach children and adults in several venues.

After a move to Sun Valley/Ketchum, Idaho, Collins lectured for the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities (now the Sun Valley Museum of Art), where, for example, she reviewed classic plays prior to performances. She developed community seminars, including "Hemingway in Idaho," "The Press, the Public and You,” and a class at the Community Library called “The Poet in You.”

Collins has been an adventurous traveler and volunteer. At nineteen she joined other college students building playground equipment at rural schools in Ecuador, at 11,000 feet in the Andes and at twenty was a member of Project India, a speaking tour sponsored by the Ford Foundation, appearing before 17,000 Indian students and meeting with Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Mother Teresa. In 1989 she joined the Peace Corps, which took her to Thailand where she lived, taught, and trained Thai teachers of English. Some of her early travels included Greece, Italy and Spain. In the past several years, she also resided alone in a farmhouse located on the border of Tuscany and Umbria, Italy, volunteered twice at an orphanage in Kilimanjaro, Africa, traveled to Cuba and Mexico, and spent several months at various times in Scandinavian and European countries and several months in England and Switzerland with a friend.  

Almost three years ago, she met her birth family for the first time and has felt blessed with the addition of these new and loving Oklahoma relatives. She now resides in Sun Valley, has two grown daughters, two grandchildren who call her “Bibi Jo”  (the Swahili word for grandma is “bibi”), and enjoys her independent life, her two dogs, travel, singing in choirs, reading, the arts, being with good friends and family, and the challenge of new adventures.