Jackie Collins

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Jackie Collins

Jackie Collins.jpg
Collins in 2009
Jacqueline Jill Collins

(1937-10-04)4 October 1937
Hampstead, London, England
Died19 September 2015(2015-09-19) (aged 77)
Cause of death Breast cancer
Resting place Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Occupation Novelist
  • Wallace Austin
    (m. 1960;div. 1964)
  • Oscar Lerman
    (m. 1965;died 1992)
Partner(s)Frank Calcangnini (engaged 1994–1998, his death)
Relatives Joan Collins (sister)
Website www.jackiecollins.com

Jacqueline Jill Collins OBE (4 October 1937 – 19 September 2015) was an English romance novelist. She moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s and spent most of her career there. [1] [2] She wrote 32 novels, all of which appeared on The New York Times bestsellers list. [3] Her books have sold over 500 million copies and have been translated into 40 languages. [4] [5] Eight of her novels have been adapted for the screen, either as films or television miniseries. She was the younger sister of Dame Joan Collins.

Order of the British Empire British order of chivalry

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

Romance novel literary genre

Although the genre is very old, the romance novel or romantic novel discussed in this article is the mass-market version. Novels of this type of genre fiction place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending." There are many subgenres of the romance novel, including fantasy, historical romance, paranormal fiction, and science fiction. Romance novels are read primarily by women.

The New York Times Best Seller list is widely considered the preeminent list of best-selling books in the United States. Published weekly in The New York Times Book Review, the best-seller list has been published in the Times since October 12, 1931. In recent years it has evolved into multiple lists in different categories, broken down by fiction and non-fiction, hardcover, paperback, and electronic, and different genres.


Early life

Collins was born in 1937, in Hampstead, London, [6] [7] [8] the younger daughter of Elsa (née Bessant) Collins (died 1962) and Joseph William Collins (died 1988), a theatrical agent whose clients later included Shirley Bassey, the Beatles, and Tom Jones. [9]

Hampstead area of north London, England

Hampstead, commonly known as Hampstead Village, is an area of London, England, 4 miles (6.4 km) northwest of Charing Cross. Part of the London Borough of Camden, it is known for its intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical and literary associations and for Hampstead Heath, a large, hilly expanse of parkland. It has some of the most expensive housing in the London area. The village of Hampstead has more millionaires within its boundaries than any other area of the United Kingdom.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital of and largest city in England and the United Kingdom, and the largest city in the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Shirley Bassey Welsh singer

Dame Shirley Veronica Bassey, is a Welsh singer whose career began in the mid-1950s, best known both for her powerful voice and for recording the theme songs to the James Bond films Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and Moonraker (1979). In January 1959, Bassey became the first Welsh person to gain a No. 1 single.

Collins' South African-born father was Jewish, and her British mother was Anglican. [10] A middle child, Collins had an elder sister, Joan Collins (actress and author), and a younger brother, Bill (who became a property agent). [11] [12]

Jews ancient nation and ethnoreligious group from the Levant

Jews or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrews of historical Israel and Judah. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the ethnic religion of the Jewish people, while its observance varies from strict observance to complete nonobservance.

British people citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, British Overseas Territories, Crown Dependencies, and their descendants

The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territories, and the Crown dependencies. British nationality law governs modern British citizenship and nationality, which can be acquired, for instance, by descent from British nationals. When used in a historical context, "British" or "Britons" can refer to the Celtic Britons, the indigenous inhabitants of Great Britain and Brittany, whose surviving members are the modern Welsh people, Cornish people, and Bretons. It may also refer to citizens of the former British Empire.

Anglicanism The practices, liturgy and identity of the Church of England

Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition which has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation.

Collins attended Francis Holland School, an independent day school for girls in London [13] and was expelled at age 15. [4] [14] During this period, she reportedly had a brief affair with 29-year-old Marlon Brando. [15]

Francis Holland School is the name of two separate independent day schools for girls in central London, England, governed by the Francis Holland Schools Trust. The schools are located at Clarence Gate and at Graham Terrace.

Expulsion, or permanent exclusion, refers to the removal or banning of a student from a school system or university due to persistent violation of that institution's rules, or in extreme cases, for a single offense of marked severity. Laws and procedures regarding expulsion vary between countries and states.

An affair is a sexual relationship, romantic friendship, or passionate attachment between two people without the attached person's significant other knowing.

Early career

She began appearing in acting roles in a series of British B movies in the 1950s [16] and worked as a stage singer alongside a young Des O'Connor, among others. [17] Her parents then sent her to Los Angeles to live with her older sister, Joan, a Hollywood actress. [18] There, Collins tried acting in small parts in low budget British films, including Barnacle Bill (1957), Rock You Sinners (1957), The Safecracker (1958), Intent to Kill (1958), Passport to Shame (1958), and The Shakedown (1960), in which she was credited as Lynn Curtis. After minor appearances in such television series as Danger Man and The Saint , Collins gave up on pursuing an acting career, although she did play briefly on the television series Minder in 1980. [17]

B movie Low budget commercial film genre

A B movie or B film is a low-budget commercial motion picture that is not an arthouse film. In its original usage, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more precisely identified films intended for distribution as the less-publicized bottom half of a double feature. Although the U.S. production of movies intended as second features largely ceased by the end of the 1950s, the term B movie continues to be used in its broader sense to this day. In its post-Golden Age usage, there is ambiguity on both sides of the definition: on the one hand, the primary interest of many inexpensive exploitation films is prurient; on the other, many B movies display a high degree of craft and aesthetic ingenuity.

Desmond Bernard O'Connor, is an English comedian, singer and television presenter. He was a long time chat show host, and the presenter of the long-running Channel 4 gameshow Countdown for two years. He has recorded 36 albums and has had four top-ten singles, including a number-one hit with "I Pretend", with global sales of more than sixteen million records.

<i>Barnacle Bill</i> (1957 film) 1957 film by Charles Frend

Barnacle Bill is a 1957 Ealing Studios comedy film, starring Alec Guinness. He plays an unsuccessful Royal Navy officer, and six of his maritime ancestors. This was the final Ealing comedy as well as the last film Guinness made for Ealing Studios, although some sources list Davy (film) as the final Ealing comedy. By coincidence, his first Ealing success was Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), in which he also played multiple roles. The film was written by the screenwriter of Passport to Pimlico.

She made a switch from acting onscreen to writing novels, and her first book, The World Is Full of Married Men (1968), became a best-seller. [18] Four decades later, she admitted she was a "school dropout" and "juvenile delinquent" when she was 15: "I'm glad I got all of that out of my system at an early age," she said, [19] adding that she "never pretended to be a literary writer." [20]

<i>The World Is Full of Married Men</i> novel by Jackie Collins

The World Is Full of Married Men is the debut novel of British author Jackie Collins, first published in 1968 by W. H. Allen.

Writing career


Collins had begun many works of fiction but abandoned them, and only completed her first novel after being persuaded to do so by her second husband Oscar Lerman. "You're a storyteller", he told her. [3] After its publication, romantic novelist Barbara Cartland called the book "nasty, filthy and disgusting", [21] and charged Collins with "creating every pervert in Britain". [11] The book was banned in Australia and South Africa, [5] but the scandal bolstered sales in the United States and the UK. [22]

Her second novel, The Stud , was published in 1969. It also made the best-seller lists. [23]


Collins' third novel, Sunday Simmons & Charlie Brick (first published under the title The Hollywood Zoo in the UK and then retitled Sinners worldwide in 1984) was published in 1971 and again made the best-seller lists. This was Collins' first novel to be set in the United States. [24]

Lovehead followed in 1974 (retitled as The Love Killers in 1989). This novel was Collins' first foray into the world of organized crime, a genre that would later prove to be extremely successful for her. [25]

Following this, Collins published The World Is Full of Divorced Women (unrelated to her first novel) in 1975, and then Lovers & Gamblers in 1977, which told the story of rock/soul superstar Al King. [26]

In the late 1970s, Collins made a foray into writing for the screen. She co-wrote the screenplay for The Stud (1978), based on her second book; the film starred her older sister Joan as the gold-digging adulteress Fontaine Khaled. Following this, Collins wrote the screenplay for The World Is Full of Married Men (1980), the film adaptation of her first novel. [27] She also released her seventh novel, The Bitch (1979), a sequel to The Stud; The Bitch was also made into a successful 1979 film, with Joan Collins reprising the role. [28] Around the same time, Collins wrote an original screenplay (not based on any of her novels) for the film Yesterday's Hero (1979). [29]


There are so many bad boys out there, especially in Hollywood. And yes, I know so many of them. I loved writing about them, and you love reading about them. Unfortunately, that type attracts many young, naïve girls who don't know better, but I do. With age comes experience.

—Jackie Collins [30]

In the 1980s, Collins and her family moved to Los Angeles on a full-time basis, where she would continue to write about the "rich and famous". She said, "If you wish to be successful, there is a place you should be at a certain time. And Los Angeles in the 1980s was it." [31]

Her next novel was Chances (1981). It introduced one of her best-known characters, Lucky Santangelo, the "dangerously beautiful" daughter of a gangster. [32]

While living in the hills above Sunset Boulevard, Collins collected the knowledge and experience to write her most commercially successful novel, Hollywood Wives (1983), which hit The New York Times best-seller list at number one. Marketed as a "scandalous exposé", the novel sold over 15 million copies [33] and placed Collins in a powerful position, making her a celebrity of near equal status to her sister Joan, whose own career had taken an upwards direction with her role in the television drama Dynasty .[ citation needed ]

In 1985, Hollywood Wives was made into a television miniseries, produced by Aaron Spelling and starring Candice Bergen, Stefanie Powers, Angie Dickinson, Anthony Hopkins, Suzanne Somers, and Rod Steiger. Although credited as a "creative consultant", Collins later stated that she was never consulted during production and that she did not agree with some of the casting choices. [34]

She then went on to write the sequel to Chances, titled Lucky (1985), [35] followed by Hollywood Husbands (1986) and Rock Star (1988). [20]


In 1990, Collins published her third Lucky Santangelo novel, Lady Boss , and wrote and co-produced the television miniseries Lucky Chances , which combined her first two Lucky Santangelo novels and starred Nicollette Sheridan (in the lead role) and Sandra Bullock. [36]

In 1992, Collins was widowed when her husband of 26 years, Oscar Lerman, died of cancer. [37] Around this time, she wrote and produced another miniseries based on the Lady Boss novel, with Kim Delaney playing the lead role. Collins' run of best-sellers continued with American Star (1993), Hollywood Kids (1994), and the fourth Santangelo novel, Vendetta: Lucky's Revenge (1996).

She was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1993, when she was surprised by Michael Aspel.

In 1998, she made a foray into talk show television with the series Jackie Collins' Hollywood, but this was unsuccessful. She also published the novel Thrill (1998) and wrote a four-part series of mini-novels, called L.A. Connections, to be released in a newspaper every six weeks and which introduced a new heroine in the form of investigative journalist Madison Castelli. [38] The fifth Lucky Santangelo novel, Dangerous Kiss , was published in 1999. [39]


The 2000s turned out to be Collins' busiest time; she published eight best-sellers, more than in any other decade in her career. In 2000, Collins brought back the character of Madison Castelli in a new novel, Lethal Seduction. In 2001, she published Hollywood Wives: The New Generation, which was adapted as a 2003 television movie starring Farrah Fawcett, Melissa Gilbert, and Robin Givens. (Collins was credited as an executive producer.) A new Madison Castelli novel, Deadly Embrace, was published in 2002, and Hollywood Divorces was published in 2003. In 2004, Collins hosted a series of television specials, Jackie Collins Presents, for E! Entertainment Television. [40]

Collins continued with Lovers & Players (2006); the sixth Lucky Santangelo novel, Drop Dead Beautiful (2007); and Married Lovers (2008), which concerns the affairs of a female personal trainer named Cameron Paradise. [41] This was followed by Poor Little Bitch Girl (2009), which stemmed from an idea Collins had worked on for a television series about heiresses that was ultimately never made. [42]


Collins in 2012 Jackie Collins - The Power Trip.jpg
Collins in 2012

Paris Connections (2010), a direct-to-DVD movie adapted from Collins' L.A. Connections series of mini-novels, was made by Amber Entertainment in association with the UK supermarket chain Tesco. The movie stars Charles Dance, Trudie Styler, and Nicole Steinwedell (as Madison Castelli). Collins served as co-producer, and three more Connections movies with the Madison Castelli character are planned. [43]

Collins continued to write Lucky Santangelo books, including Goddess of Vengeance. [44] Her 29th novel, titled The Power Trip, was published in February 2013. [45] Confessions of a Wild Child, was published in February 2014, with a movie deal announced even before the book came out. [46]

Collins' cookbook, The Lucky Santangelo Cookbook (2014), is named after the protagonist of seven Collins novels, who is often portrayed preparing elaborate gastronomic creations for her intimates (and who watched her father throw a plate of food at her mother as a child). [47] Collins' final novel was The Santangelos (2015), a conclusion to the Santangelo series she had begun with Chances (1981). [48]

Personal life

Collins in 2008 JackieCollinsByPhilKonstantin.jpg
Collins in 2008

Collins held dual citizenship: British (by birth) and U.S. (by naturalization, from 6 May 1960). [49] She married her first husband, Wallace Austin, in 1960; they divorced in 1964. Austin's addiction to drugs prescribed for manic depression ultimately caused their separation, and he died from a deliberate overdose the year after their marriage ended. [3] [11] The couple had one daughter, Tracy, born in 1961. [49]

In 1965, Collins married again, this time to art gallery and nightclub (Ad-Lib and Tramp) owner, Oscar Lerman. The wedding took place in the home of her sister Joan and her husband at the time, Anthony Newley. Collins and Lerman had two daughters, Tiffany (born 1967) and Rory (born 1969). Lerman also formally adopted Collins' daughter, Tracy, from her previous marriage. Lerman died in 1992 from prostate cancer. [49]

In 1994, Collins became engaged to Los Angeles business executive Frank Calcagnini, who died in 1998 from a brain tumor. [50] She said that what got her through the tragedies of losing two loved ones was "celebrating their lives, as opposed to dwelling on their deaths." [30]

In 2011, when asked if she were dating anyone, Collins said: "I have a man for every occasion", adding:

When I was a kid growing up, I used to read my father's Playboy and I'd see these guys and they had fantastic apartments and cars. I have all of that now. Why would I want to hook myself up with one man when I've had two fantastic men in my life? One was my husband for over 20 years and one was my fiancé for six [sic] years. [51]

In The Sunday Times Rich List 2011, Collins was listed as the UK's fifth richest author, with an estimated personal fortune of £60 million. [50] In 2013, she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) Birthday Honours for services to fiction and charity. [52] [53]

Throughout Collins' career, she fictionalized aspects of her personal life as a source for her novels. She said she loved Los Angeles and recalled that while growing up in England, she often read novels by Harold Robbins, Mickey Spillane, and Raymond Chandler. [19] Vanity Fair writer Dominick Dunne explains that Collins "loved the picture business, the television business, the record business, and the people in them, the stars, celebrities, directors, and producers." [19] And although she was a "great partygoer", he says, she went to them "more as an observer than participant", using them as part of her "research." [19] "Write about what you know", Collins said at a writer's conference. "I love what I do. I fall in love with my characters. They become me, and I become them." [19]


Collins died on 19 September 2015, of breast cancer, two weeks before her 78th birthday. [54] She had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer more than six years before her death but kept her illness almost entirely to herself. She reportedly informed her sister Joan Collins two weeks before she died [55] [56] and flew from Los Angeles to London to appear on the ITV chat show Loose Women nine days before her death. [57]


Hollywood series
Santangelo novels
Madison Castelli series

See also

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