RIP Jackie Collins

Novelist Jackie Collins, 77, died of breast cancer at her home in Los Angeles. Her family released a statement on the 19th saying “It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the death of our beautiful, dynamic and one-of-a-kind mother”. The British born Collins wrote 32 novels, all of which have appeared on The New York Times bestsellers list. In total, her books have sold over 500 million copies and have been translated into 40 languages. Eight of her novels have been adapted for the screen, either as films or television mini-series. Collins’s career spanned four decades and she sold more than 500 million books in 40 countries. She was the younger sister of actress Joan Collins. Collins was diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer six-and-a-half years ago, according to US celebrity magazine People.

Collins was born in Hampstead, London in 1937, the younger daughter of Elsa Bessant and Joseph William Collins (died 198, a theatrical agent whose clients included Shirley Bassey, the Beatles and Tom Jones. Jackie Collins began writing as a teenager, making up racy stories for her schoolfriends, according to a biography on her website. Her first novel, The World is Full of Married Men, was published in 1968 and became a scandalous bestseller. It was banned in Australia and branded “disgusting” by romance writer Barbara Cartland. Like her sister, Collins began appearing in acting roles in a series of British B movies in the 1950s. She also made appearances in the 1960s ITC television series Danger Man and The Saint before giving up an acting career. Since then, she played herself in a few television series, including Minder in 1980. My favourite book of hers is Rock Star from 1988.

She had kept her illness a secret from everyone except her closest family members. Diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer six-and-a-half years ago, Jackie, 77, chose to keep her illness almost entirely to herself, confiding primarily in her three daughters, Tracy, 54, Tiffany, 48, and Rory, 46. Jackie didn’t even tell Joan until within the last two weeks. Collins married her first husband, Wallace Austin, in 1960 and divorced in 1964. They had one child, Tracy, born in 1961. In 1965, Collins married for the second time to art gallery and nightclub (Ad-Lib, Tramp) owner, Oscar Lerman. The wedding took place in the home of her sister Joan and Anthony Newley, who were married at the time. 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. In 1994, Collins became engaged to Los Angeles business executive Frank Calcagnini, who died in 1998 from a brain tumour. 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 ($96 million).

Jacqueline Jill “Jackie” Collins OBE (October 4, 1937 – September 19, 2015)

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