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||Jackie Collins (b. 1941)|
British bestselling novelist, now living in California. Collins's stories about lust, love, power, and violence in Hollywood have gained wide success. Part of the fun of her books is their not-so-well hidden references to well-known celebrities, hot shots, and juicy events reported in such magazines as National Enquirer. Collins's books have sold 200 million copies in more than 40 countries. She has said that "the important thing is I get people into the bookstores who probably wouldn't be there otherwise." Her younger sister of the actress Joan Collins.
"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, 1986)
Jackie Collins was born in London. Elsa, her mother, had worked as a nightclub hostess. Jackie's father, Joe Collins, was a successful theatrical booking agent and intended both daughters to go into the theatre. Jackie and Joan grew around the enterteinment business and they both were encouraged toward acting career. But when Joan Collins established herself as a star in Hollywood, Jackie found her talents in popular fiction. However, 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 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!"
Collins has been an avid reader since her childhood. At the age of
eight, she started to write. Especially Enid Blyton's books inspired
her to become a storyteller. During a rebellious
adolescence Collins was expelled from school for smoking. She read
Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer,
and continued with Harold Robbins and Terry Southern. "I could't wait
to start telling sexy stories myself," she once said in an interview.
In 1959 she
married Wallace Austin; they had two children. Wallace, who was 12
years her senior, was a wealthy businessman. They divorced four years
later. In 1966 she married
Oscar Lerman, a businessman and nightclub owner; he died in 1992.
Collins's fiancé of five years, shopping mall developer Frank
Calcagnini, died of cancer in 1996. Arnold Kopelson, her longtime
companion, is a multi-awarded producer.
Like her sister, Collins went to Los Angeles in search of a
film career. 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 has
steadily published romance fiction- the manuscripts she had done by
hand instead of typing.
After the death of Jacqueline Susan, author of Valley of the Dolls,
Collins followed her as the "Queen of Trash Lit" – or the soap operatic
romance with much sex. "I write very raunchy books, but they have a
good moral in them," has Collins said in an interview. The French film
director Louis Malle called her once a "raunchy moralist". Collins has
described herself as "an insider who can write like an outsider about
Hollywood Wives (1983),
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 is still the same as at the beginning of her
career, Collins's stories from the glamorous world of Hollywood are
immensely popular. Collins's style is fast-paced and draws on her own
or her sister's experiences in the film industry. She writes her books in longhand on white typing paper or yellow legal pads.
During the years, the quality of her writing has improved, scenes with sex or drug abuse are closely woven into the plot, and the novels have much greater depth of characterization. Collins has also uses tongue-in-cheek humour – there are characters like Dick Cockranger. Her female figures are totally equal with male ones. An avid reader of hard-boiled fiction, her favorite male writers include Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Andrew Gross,Elmore Leonard, Robert B. Parker, Mickey Spillane, and Joseph Wambaugh.
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's famous series heroine is Lucky Santangelo, the author's alter ego, who appeared first in Chances. This novel established the family feud between the Bonnattis and the Santangelos. Lucky's 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 (The New York Times, June 15, 1999)
"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." 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." Collins has planned to write a book about Lucky at the age of 15.