Jackie Collins, Prodigious Writer of Romantic Fiction, Dies at 77

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Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

British novelist Jackie Collins, whose licentious fiction romps through glamorous night lives have sold more than 500 million copies in 40 countries, has died of breast cancer at 77. Collins earned notoriety in 1968, with the publication of her novel The World Is Full of Married Men. The prolific romance writer Barbara Cartland, who wrote over 700 novels (!) in her life, called the book disgusting; it was banned in several countries and subsequently sold very well in America. Her next book, The Stud ('69), announced her as the more lurid, female-oriented foil to Philip Roth, whose masturbation-centric classic Portnoy's Complaint came out that same year. Collins wrote about the lascivious side of Hollywood with the Hollywood series ('83–'03) and the seedy world of organized crime with the Santangelo novels, the last of which, the 600-page The Santangelos, came out this June. Collins began writing for film in the '70s, and several of her books were made into movies. Her older sister, Joan, saw a career renaissance with her performance in the soft-core adaptation of Jackie's The Bitch, which led to her being cast in Dynasty a year later. The prodigious writer scrawled her novels out in longhand on yellow legal pads or blank computer paper. Thirty-two of her books landed on the New York Times best-seller list. In the six and a half years since she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Collins wrote five books, which makes James Patterson look lazy by comparison.