“I write about real people in disguise. If anything, my characters are toned down-the truth is much more bizarre.” Jackie Collins
A Los Angeles-based, British-born romance novelist who got her start as an actress, Jackie Collins has made a name for herself as one of the world’s top-selling novelists with over 400 millions copies of her books sold in more than 40 countries and with more than twenty of her books becoming New York Times best sellers. With personal wealth above $135 million, she now becomes one of the richest living authors.
First achieving fame with her first novel, “The World is Full of Married Men” (1968), which was an astounding bestseller across the globe, Collins achieved the top of her popularity with her most noted novel, “Hollywood Wives” (1983). It broke the New York Times bestseller list at No. 1, and continued to sell fifteen million copies worldwide. In 1985, her novel was made into one of the ABC highest-rated miniseries starring Anthony Hopkins and Candice Bergen and produced by Aaron Spelling. In addition to “Hollywood Wives,” Collins’ many other works has also been adapted into successful film and television miniseries projects, including “The Sud,” “The Bitch” and the Lucky Santangelo series. “Lovers & Players” (2006), Collins’ latest novel, is also a New York Times bestseller.
As for her private life, Collins, whose measurements are 38-28-38 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine), has been married twice: to Wallace Austin (married in 1955; divorced a few years later) and Oscar Lerman (from 1966 to his death in 1992). She has three daughters, Tracy (father: Wallace Austin), Tiffany and Rory (father: Oscar Lerman). After her husband passed away, Collins met and was romantically involved with Los Angeles businessman Frank Calcagnini. However, her boyfriend-fiancé died in 1998, because of cancer.
In her spare time, Collins enjoys photography, listening soul music as well as exploring exotic locations.
Childhood and Family:
Jacqueline Jill Collins, who would later professionally be known as Jackie Collins, was born on October 4, 1939, in Bayswater, London, England, to Joseph William “Will” Collins, a theatrical agent, and Elsa Bessant Collins, a dancer. She is the younger sister of actress-writer Joan Collins and elder sibling to Bill Collins, a real-estate developer.
At age 13, Jackie was thrown out from school due to poor presence. As a result, her parents sent her to live with her sister Joan in Los Angeles. At the time, Joan was a struggling actress in L.A., and Jackie tried to begin an acting career like her sister. Finding her life was a disappointment, she decided to return to London and in 1955, married first husband Wallace Austin. The couple had a daughter named Tracy, but divorced a few years later shortly after her drug-addicted husband abandoned the family. She then lived with her parents at their apartment in North London.
Jackie remarried in 1966, to Oscar Lerman, a famous London art gallery and nightclub owner. Together they welcomed two daughters, Tiffany and Rory, with Lorman officially adopted Tracy. The family moved to the U.S in the 1980s and settled in Los Angeles. Jackie suffered a great loss in early 1990s following the death of her husband. Lerman died of cancer on March 2, 1992.
Lovers & Players
Before commencing a lucrative career as a novelist, England-born Jackie Collins was a futile actress. She made her television movie-bow in The Pay Off (1955) and went on to appear in a series of unmemorable films such as Rock You Sinners (1957), All at Sea (1957), Undercover Girl (1958) and Room 43 (1958). Thanks to the encouragement of her second husband, she made a switch to writing romance books and had her first release with “The World is Full of Married Men.” Published in 1968, at first, the novel shocked many for its vulgar sexuality, but went on to become a magnificent bestseller throughout the world. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Collins continued to write many other steamy books, most of which were best sellers. They are “The Stud” (1969), “Lovehead” (The Love Killers) (1974), “The World is Full of Divorced Women” (1975), “Lovers & Gamblers” (1977) and “The Bitch” (1979).
In 1978, Collins’ novel “The Sud” was made into a feature film of the same name, where she also co-wrote the screenplay with Dave Humphries and Christopher Stagg. Directed by Quentin Masters and starring her sister, Joan, as the wife of an affluent but tiresome entrepreneur, the film was a commercial success. The following year, the big screen version of “The Bitch,” Collins’ 1979 installment of “The Stud,” followed its processor, becoming a box office hit. The movie (also titled The Bitch) was helmed and written by Gerry O’Hara with sister Joan reprising her part. 1979 also saw her novel, “The World is Full of Married Men” (1968), was transformed into a film with Anthony Franciosa and Carroll Baker starring as David and Linda Cooper. She also wrote the screenplay for the 1979 drama Yesterday’s Hero, starring Ian McShane and Suzanne Somers and for director Neil Leifer.
Collins experienced a huge breakthrough in 1983 with the release of her most successful novel, “Hollywood Wives.” It rocketed to No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller lists and went on to sell fifteen million copies internationally. She gained further prominence two years later when her book was adapted into a very popular miniseries for the ABC Television Network with Aaron Spelling serving as the producer. The three-part, six-hour show starred Candice Bergen and Anthony Hopkins and was nominated for an Emmy. “Hollywood Wives” has spawned several continuations, such as
“Hollywood Husbands” (1986), “Hollywood Kids” (1994), “Hollywood Wives: The New Generation” (2001) and “Hollywood Divorces” (2003).
The best-selling writer cemented her status in the fiction territory by creating mafia princes Lucky Santangelo, perhaps her most well-known character. It has spawned successful books, such as “Chances” (1981), “Lucky” (1985), “Lady Boss” (1990), “Vendetta: Lucky’s Revenge” (1997) and “Dangerous Kiss” (1999). In early 1990s, Collins wrote the teleplay for two highly successful miniseries version of her Lucky Santangelo books, “Lucky/Chances” (1990, also served as executive producer), starring Nicollete Sheridan and Sandra Bullock, and “Lady Boss” (1992), starring Kim Delaney.
During the 1990s and early 2000s, Collins also published other books like “American Star” (1993), “Thrill” (1998) and L.A Connections series, comprising “Power” (1998), “Obsession” (1998), “Murder” (1998), “Revenge” (1998), “L.A. Connections” (1999), “Lethal Seduction” (2000) and “Deadly Embrace” (2002).
In 2004, Collins made a series of specials for E! Entertainment Television called “Jackie Collins,” where she served as host. The show was a massive success. The year also marked her departure from her publisher of almost twenty years, Simon & Schuster. Now contracted with St. Martin’s Press, she published “Lovers & Players” in 2006. The book went on to become a New York Times bestseller.
Currently, Collins is working on her upcoming book, “Drop Dead Beautiful”-The Continuing Adventures of Lucky Santangelo (2007).