Sex sells and no one knew this fact better than Jackie Collins, a master storyteller who built an empire from the sexual exploits and political scandals of the rich and famous. Collins - who wrote more than 25 novels, all of which landed on The New York Times bestsellers list - ultimately sold more than 400 million copies worldwide. With her devout following lapping up one racy novel after another, Collins provided readers with an unapologetic and intimate look at the glamorous yet sordid lives of Hollywood powerbrokers, their spouses, and mistresses in tell-alls like Hollywood Wives (1983) - her most successful novel and one of the highest ranking miniseries of the 1980s - and its sequels like Hollywood Kids (1994) and Hollywood Divorces (2003). Like her heroines who bed-hopped their way to fame and fortune, Collins herself was linked to high-profile celebrities like Marlon Brando, whom she dated when she was only 15, Warren Beatty, and many others who likely provided source material for her books. The younger sister to actress/diva Joan Collins, the author released another saucy read titled Poor Little Bitch Girl, a nod to Hollywood tarts who were "famous for being famous." Throughout her long career, Collins earned her share of critics who admonished her work - calling it trashy, immoral and depraved - yet the millions of readers she kept up at night provided concrete proof that she remained one of the literary world's most successful novelists. Her death on September 19, 2015 at the age of 77 was mourned by fans and friends across the world.
Jacqueline Jill Collins was born on Oct. 4, 1937 in London, England to Joe Collins, a theater agent, and Elsa Collins, a former dancer. She had an older sister, Joan, who would later shoot to fame as Alexis Carrington on the long-running series "Dynasty" (ABC, 1981-89), and a younger brother, Bill. Collins began writing when she was a teenager, copying dirty limericks into her diary and charging her classmates to read them. Unlike her more reserved older sister, Collins was a wild child who broke the rules at a young age - she smoked marijuana, wore thick makeup and high heels, and snuck out at night to meet men at nightclubs. She was expelled from school at 15 for truancy and was sent to live with her sister in Los Angeles. Collins tried acting, appearing in a number of second-rate British movies in the 1950s and on a number of TV shows like the drama "ITV Play of the Week" (ITV, 1955-1968). With a lackluster acting career to speak of, Collins returned to her first love - writing - and her first attempt made her an overnight celebrity. Collins shocked the literary world with her novel, The World is Full of Married Men (1968), the first in a long line of salacious and controversial New York Times and international bestsellers about the sexual escapades of the rich and famous. Because of its openly sexual themes, the novel was banned in Australia and South Africa.
Collins followed it up with The Stud (1969), a scintillating read about the affairs of Fontaine Khaled, a glamorous nightclub owner in London - a character Collins said she wrote with her sister in mind. Collins wrote five other best-selling novels in the 1970s, including The Bitch (1969), which further explored the sexual escapades of The Stud heroine, Fontaine. The film version of "The Bitch" opened in 1979 with Collins' sister in the title role. The author was just as prolific in the 1980s, penning more bestsellers like Chances (1981), another steamy page-turner that introduced readers to Collins' most famous heroine, Lucky Santangelo, the seductive and daring daughter of a mob boss who stops at nothing to get what she wants. Lucky's adventures continued to titillate readers in best-selling sequels such as Lady Boss (1990), which follows Lucky's tracks in Hollywood as she takes control of a movie studio; Dangerous Kiss (1999), another bestseller about relationships, addiction and lust; and Drop Dead Beautiful - The Continuing Adventures of Lucky Santangelo (2007), about Lucky's return to Las Vegas to build a billion-dollar hotel complex.
When pressed, Collins admitted that she used real actors, filmmakers and other movie types as inspiration for her provocative novels. And what juicy gossip she did not herself witness, she received from limo drivers, make-up artists, personal assistants, and anyone else on the fringes of showbiz. She touted the novel Hollywood Wives as a "scandalous exposé" of the lavish, sordid lives of the perfectly sculpted spouses of entertainment executives and Hollywood's leading men. The book sold more than 10 million copies and had everyone guessing whom Collins based her characters on. Hollywood Wives was her most successful novel; in 1985, it was adapted for the small screen and became one of ABC's most-watched miniseries starring Candice Bergen and Suzanne Somers.
The (not-so) secret lives of musicians were also frequent subjects. For her book Rock Star (1988), Collins wrote about the goings-on in the nightclub her second husband had owned, including an incident where someone she knew walked in on a famous 1980s-era musician having sex with a presumably underage girl in a private room. Her novel Hollywood Kids proved very timely; one of her young characters in the book was running a high-class prostitution ring. When the book was released in 1994, news of the real-life Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss had just broke. In 2003, Collins' book Hollywood Divorces appeared to have been ripped from the tabloid pages that featured juicy details of Tinseltown hook-ups and break-ups of the time. To keep up with the new millennium's celebrity-crazed obsession, Collins released 2010's Poor Little Bitch Girl, inspired by the infamous starlets like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton who gained instant stardom via scandalous affairs, excessive partying, and recorded sexual romps. That same year, she appeared as a guest judge on the reality competition "Ru Paul's Drag Race" (Logo, 2009- ), thrilling one of the contestants by saying that she looked like her favorite fictional heroine, Lucky.
Collins' personal life could have easily been lifted off the pages of her own novels. She was known to have enjoyed numerous dalliances with movie stars and musicians, which started in her early teens and provided her with invaluable material for her racy books. Shortly after moving to L.A. in the early 1950s, she starred in her own real-life romance with Marlon Brando, one of Hollywood's biggest screen legends who was also notorious for dating actresses. When the affair took place, Collins was 15 and Brando was 29. Collins did not make the relationship public until 2010, but had she talked about while they dated, Brando would have faced prison time for statutory rape. The affair also caused a rift between her and her sister, Joan, who had also dated Brando. Collins was also rumored to have slept with A-list womanizer and her sister's one-time beau, Warren Beatty. She finally shot down that rumor in 2010, explaining that when she and her sister stayed at LA's Chateau Marmont in the early 1950s, Beatty also stayed at the same hotel, but that she used to swap beds with the actor whenever he saw her sister on the sly. Never shy, Collins candidly told comic Kathy Griffin during an interview on "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List" (Bravo, 2005-2010) that she vaguely recalled sleeping with John Lennon during one of the band's tours at the height of Beatlemania in the 1960s. In 2009, Collins was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, but xhose to keep her diagnosis secret from all but her immediate family. After writing and publishing three final novels, Goddess of Vengeance, (2011), The Power Trip (2012) and Confessions of a Wild Child (2013), Collins died of breast cancer in Los Angeles on September 19, 2015. She was 77.
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Made her acting debut on ABC/NBC program "Kraft Theatre"
Landed a featured role on an episode of the British anthology series "ITV Play of the Week"
Received last acting credit with an appearance on the BBC drama "Compact"
Published her debut novel <i>The World is Full of Married Men </i>
Wrote the novel <i>The Bitch</i>, which was adapted into the 1979 film of the same name that starred her sister Joan Collins
Wrote first novel set in the U.S., <i>Sunday Simmons & Charlie Brick</i>
Introduced readers to her famous heroine Lucky Santangelo in the novel <i>Chances</i>
Penned her ninth and most successful novel <i>Hollywood Wives</i>; adapted into an ABC miniseries in 1985, starring Candice Bergen and Joanna Cassidy
Wrote and produced the NBC miniseries "Lucky Chances" based on her bestselling novels <i>Chances</i> and <i>Lucky</i> (1985), starred Nicollette Sheridan and Sandra Bullock
Wrote the NBC TV-movie "Lady Boss," starring Kim Delaney; based on her 1990 novel <i>Lady Boss</i>
Wrote and produced the CBS TV-movie "Hollywood Wives: The Next Generation," starring Farrah Fawcett, Melissa Gilbert, and Robin Givens
Produced the documentary "Jackie Collins Presents" for E!
Candidly spoke about sleeping with John Lennon at the height of Beatle-mania during a guest appearance on "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List" (Bravo)
Penned her 27th novel <i>Poor Little Bitch Girl</i>, reportedly inspired by troubled starlets such as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan
Wrote her final novel, <i>Confessions of a Wild Child</i>