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||Jackie Collins (1941-2015)|
British- American bestselling novelist, whose stories about lust, love, power, and violence in Hollywood gained wide success. Part of the fun of Jackie Collins' stories is their not-so-well hidden references to well-known celebrities, hot shots, and juicy events reported in such magazines as National Enquirer. Her books have sold more than 500 million copies in some 40 countries. She once said that "the important thing is I get people into the bookstores who probably wouldn't be there otherwise." Collins was the younger sister of the actress Joan Collins (b. 1933).
"Being a studio head was the treacherous no-man's-land between high-powered agent and independent producer. The saving speech of every deposed studio head was: "I need more creativity. My talent is stifled here. Too much to do and too little time. We are parting amicably. I'm going into indie prod." In the industry, indie prod (independent production, to the initiated) equals out on your ass. Canned. Can't cut it. Tough shit. Don't call us we'll call you. And so... most indie prods faded into oblivion after one failed movie." (from Hollywood Husbands by Jackie Collins, 1986)
Jacqueline Jill Collins was born in Bayswater, London.
Jackie's father, Joe Collins, was a successful
theatrical booking agent and intended both daughters to go into the
theatre. Elsa, her mother, had worked as a
nightclub hostess. She died of cancer in 1962.
Jackie and Joan grew around the enterteinment
they both were encouraged toward acting career. However, Joan was often
favoured by their father. "I get an awful inferiority complex when I'm
with Joan," Jackie wrote in her journal in 1953. ('Jackie Collins: the reality of life in Joan's shadow' by Vanessa Thorpe, The Guardian, 13 June, 2021) But when Joan Collins
established herself as a star in Hollywood, Jackie found her talents in
popular fiction. Her novels The
Stud (1969) and its sequel, The
Bitch (1979), were later made into films starring her famous
sister, and Chances (1981)
and Lucky (1985) have been
made into television mini-series. The
Stud was produced by Joan Collins' then-husban Ron Kass.
The Stud and The Bitch were British-based novels, but later the scene changed from the clubs and discos of London to California. In The Stud the narrator says, "Yeah, I'm very popular now, everyone wants to know me. Funny thing isn't it? I'm the same guy, talk in the same voice, the clothes are a little more expensive, but that's about the only difference. You wouldn't believe it though, the ladies practically fight to climb in the sack with me. You would think I was doing them a big favor, and listen, they way things have been going I think I am!"
Since her childhood, Collins was an avid reader, and at the
age of nine, she began to write her own stories, some of which were
illustrated by her sister Joan. Enid
Blyton's books inspired
her, and dirty limericks, which she copied into her diary and charged
all the girls in schools a few pence to read them (Spokane Chronicle, Wed., Aug. 17,
During a rebellious
adolescence, Collins was expelled from Francis Holland
smoking behind a tree and waving at the neighborhood flasher. Instead
of reading her school
books, she read
Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer,
and continued with Harold Robbins, and Terry
Southern. "I couldn't wait
to start telling sexy stories myself," she said in an interview. ('Jackie Collins: By the Book,' The New York Times, 21.2.2013) Robbins gave her an exemplary model on how to become a bestseller. In 1959 she
married the London businessman Wallace Austin; they had two children.
Wallace, who was 12
years her senior, was a wealthy businessman. They divorced four years
later owing to his neglect and substance abuse. Wallace committed
suicide by takin an overdose of barbiturates. In 1966 she married
Oscar Lerman, a businessman and nightclub owner. From
the 1980s they lived in California, U.S. The marriage lasted 27 years
until Lerman's death in 1992. Collins' fiancé of five years,
shopping mall developer Frank
Calcagnini, died of cancer in 1996. Arnold Kopelson, a multi-awarded
producer, was her longtime
Between 1955 and 1965, Collins appeared in bit parts in British feature films and TV series, such as Barnacle Bill (1957), an Ealing Studios Production, starring Alec Guinness, Undercover Girl (1958), a low-budget B-movie, Rock You Sinners (1958), a musical set in the early days of rock 'n' roll, The Safecracker (1958), directed by the Academy Award-winning actor Ray Milland, Intent to Kill (1958), shot in Canada, Passport to Shame (1958), a X-rated prostitution drama, During One Night (1960), directed by the Canadian-born Sidney J. Furie. In addition, Collins was seen in one episode of The Danger Man series, and in The Saint, 'Starring the Saint' (1963), set in the film world. Roger Moore (The Saint) later mentioned her briefly in his book of memoir: "Dot's father, Arch – or Pop as he was called – had his eyes out on stalks when he caught sight of Diana Dors' and Jackie Collins' bikini-clad bodies." (My Word is My Bond by Roger Moore, 2008, p. 68)
Like her sister, Collins went to Los Angeles in search
film career, but she was never offered a decent role, and she returned
to London. Collins claimed that at the age of 15, she had a brief
affair with Marlon Brando. It was long after
Collins had gained world fame, she got an opportunity to be a TV star –
she hosted a series for E! Entertainment
Television called Jackie Collins
Presents (2004-), and had a short-lived chat show, Jackie Collins' Hollywood (1998).
In 1968 she made her first bestseller, The World Is Full Of Married Men,
achieving overnight success. At the time of the publication the book
was considered shocking because of its sexual content. "It's a nasty
book, filthy and disgusting" said Barbara Cartland, famous for her
popular romantic fiction, and continued: "I hardly slept after reading
it." In Australia the book was banned. Since the 1960s Collins
steadily romance fiction.
After the death of Jacqueline Susan, author of Valley of
Collins followed her as the "Queen of Trash Lit" – or the soap operatic
romance with much sex. "I write very raunchy books," Collins said, "but
they always emphasize this theme: You can meet a man, and he can be
incredibly flawed, but the right woman is going to change him and
they'll have a wonderful relationship, which not only is sexual, but
also is intellectual." ('Dishing dirt with Jackie Collins, who says her novels pale before real life' by Gary Dretzka, Chicago Tribune, July 20, 2001) Her fast-paced stories drew on her
or her sister's experiences in the film industry. She was called
"raunchy moralist" by the French film
director Louis Malle and ironically "Hollywood's own Marcel Proust" by Vanity Fair magazine. Collins
herself as "an insider who can write like an outsider about
the inside". ('Jackie Collins: My Hollywood Survival Guide for Posh' by Ivor Davis, Sunday Express, 19 May, 2007)
sold around 15 million copies worldwide, did not only pave the way for
the new type romantic "blockbuster" such as those by Jilly Cooper or
Joanna Trollope, but also to such celebrities as Pamela Anderson, Paris
Hilton and Courtney Love. The novel brought into the romantic
genre more of everything from melodrama to sex and glamorous locations.
Though the formula remained the same as at the beginning of her
career, Collins' stories from the glamorous world of Hollywood were
the years, the
quality of her writing improved, scenes with sex or drug abuse were
closely woven into the plot, and the novels had much greater depth of
characterization. Collins also used tongue-in-cheek humour – there
are characters like Dick Cockranger. He female figures are as strong as
Robbins's men, but they know that the in the male-dominated
world, the odds are against them.
Collins wrote her books in longhand on white typing
paper or yellow legal pads, at least ten pages a day, until the
manuscript was finished. Some of the material was drawn from her own
experiences and from observing people around her. The readers were left
wondering, how much was true and how much was a part of her inventive
imagination. An avid reader of hard-boiled fiction, her
favorite male writers included Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Andrew
Gross, Robert B. Parker, Mickey Spillane, and Joseph
Wambaugh. Especially she admired Elmore Leonard. In 2013, she was named an Officer of the Order of the British
Empire. Jackie Collins died of breast cancer in Los Angeles on
September 19, 2015, at the age of 77. Just before her death, she promoted her new novel on television.
Hollywood Husbands (1986) covered the sinful lives of the rich and famous, who cruise the town in Ferraris and Rolls Royces. The central male characters are three friends – Jack Python, one of the most famous talk show hosts in America, Howard Soloman, the head of Orpheus Studios, and Mannon Calble, movie star, director, producer, hot property – "in Hollywood when you're hot you're hot – when you're not you may as well be dead". They have gone through expensive divorces and a number of affairs but the competition becomes serious when Jade Johnson enters the scene. "Jade Johnson was twenty-nine years old. She had shoulder-length shaggy copper hair, gold-flecked, widely spaced brown eyes, a full and luscious mouth, and a strong, square jaw that saved her from being merely beautiful, and made her face challenging and alert." Hollywood Kids (1994) focused on the spoiled, aimless children of the rich, powerful, and famous. Hollywood Wives (1983) was made into a television mini-series.
Collins' famous series heroine is Lucky Santangelo, the author's alter ego and a "bitch" character, who was first introduced in Chances. This novel established the family feud between the Bonnattis and the Santangelos. Lucky is the daughter of Gino, leader of a crime family.Her adventures continued in Lucky, in which she was married three times, Lady Boss (1989), depicting how she became the head of Panther Studios, and Vendetta: Lucky's Revenge (1996), in which she struggled with her arch-enemy, the Bonnatti family, and got back her kidnapped husband Lennie Golden, the handsome Hollywood writer-director.
Dangerous Kiss (1999)
developed further the saga of the street-smart Lucky. "Well, to me,
Jackie's Hollywood is the 60's with money," wrote Michiko Kakutani in
his review of the book.
"Free love still reigns in Jackie Land: people are still having
promiscuous sex with many anonymous partners without protection, while
at the same time experimenting with mind-expanding drugs in a
consequence-free environment." (The
New York Times, June
15, 1999) In the story Lucky's supermodel
goddaughter, Brigette Stanislopoulosis, is raped and force-fed heroin
by her vicious Italian husband Carlo. But this is not all: her
sister-in-law, the actress Mary Lou Berkeley, is murdered in a
After a hiatus of 8 years, Lucky Santangelo made a comeback in
Drop Dead Beautiful
(2007), in which she has troubles with her daughter and faces an old
enemy. Lethal Seduction
(2000) and Deadly Embrace
(2002) dealt with the loves and sins of the dangerous Castelli family.
Madison Castelli's father, Michael, is accused of a double murder, and
Madison's wonderful, sexy boyfriend is missing. Madison herself was
first introduced in the L.A. Connections series. She is a
well-respected journalist, "who specialized in insightful profiles of
the rich, famous, and powerful." In Deadly Embrace
Collins doesn't waste time in starting the action. Already on the page
four three men burst into a restaurant, where Madison is sitting with
her friend, and one of the men shouts: "Don'tcha move, assholes, or
I'll blow your mothafuckin' heads off." At one point, Collins planned
to write a book about Lucky at the age of 15. One of her hopes was to
get Angelina Jolie to star in a movie adaptation of her novel.