Jackie Collins, the best-selling British-born author known for her vibrant novels about the extravagance and glamour of life in Hollywood, died on Saturday in Los Angeles. She was 77.
The cause was breast cancer, her family said in a statement.
Long before the emergence of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” franchise, Ms. Collins dominated the publishing industry’s more lascivious corners.
She wrote more than 30 books, many of them filled with explicit, unrestrained sexuality, and sold more than 500 million copies worldwide. Her first novel, “The World Is Full of Married Men,” was published in 1968. Australia and South Africa banned it because of its frank depiction of extramarital sex. Other earlier works included “The Stud,” in 1969, and “Rock Star,” in 1988.
Ms. Collins with a copy of her first book in 1968.
Bob Dear / Associated Press
Ms. Collins, the younger sister of the actress Joan Collins, wrote her books in longhand on either white printer paper or yellow legal pads, regularly churning out prodigious numbers of pages.
Writing in The New York Times in 1993, Barry Gewen said of Ms. Collins’s “American Star: A Love Story” that it might more appropriately be titled “Coming Up for Air.”
In 2006, reviewing her “Lovers & Players” in The Times, the critic Janet Maslin described Ms. Collins’s writing as “crypto-celebrity gamesmanship” in which the author “maneuvers her characters through a story as if she were playing by a strict set of rules.”
Many of Ms. Collins’s novels became fodder for movies and television mini-series. In 2001, for instance, she published “Hollywood Wives: The New Generation,” which followed “Hollywood Wives,” “Hollywood Husbands,” “Hollywood Kids” and “Hollywood Divorces.” It became a New York Times best seller and, in 2003, was made into a TV movie starring Farrah Fawcett, Robin Givens, Jack Scalia and Melissa Gilbert.
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She was found to have stage-four breast cancer in 2007, according to People magazine’s website, and had written five books since then. Her latest, 600-plus-page novel, “The Santangelos,” was published in June.
In an interview in 2007 with The New York Times Magazine that coincided with the publication of her 25th book, “Drop Dead Beautiful,” Ms. Collins said she did not care what reviewers would say about it.
“I never pretended to be a literary writer,” she said. “I’m a school dropout.”
She said in the interview that she did not feel that the increasingly explicit nature of pop culture made her fiction seem quaint.
“Fifteen-year-old girls still read my novels under the bedcovers with a flashlight,” she said. “But it’s true that I published my first novel in 1968, when no one was writing about sex except Philip Roth.”
Jacqueline Jill “Jackie” Collins was born on Oct. 4, 1937, in London. Survivors include her three daughters, Tracy, Tiffany and Rory, and her sister, Joan.
Ms. Collins’s first husband, Oscar Lerman, died of cancer in 1992 after the couple had been married for 27 years. Four years later, her fiancé, Frank Calcagnini, died of brain cancer.
In addition to her romance novels, Ms. Collins also wrote “The Lucky Santangelo Cookbook,” which was published last year and takes its name from a series she wrote that focused on an Italian-American family with gangster roots. Beyond “The Santangelos,” those titles included “Vendetta: Lucky’s Revenge” (1996), “Dangerous Kiss,” “Goddess of Vengeance” (2011) and “Confessions of a Wild Child” (2013).
Using the voice of fictional British movie spy Austin Powers, Times critic Michiko Kakutani wrote in a review of “Dangerous Kiss” that the main character, Lucky, “is pretty shagadelic herself, one smashing baby, baby.”
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