October 4th – Jackie Collins

“If you want to be a writer-stop talking about it and sit down and write!”

Jackie Collins

Jacqueline Jill Collins was born October 4th, 1937, in Hampstead, London. She was the middle child of three.

At 15, she was expelled from Francis Holland School and reportedly had a brief affair with the 29-year-old actor Marlon Brando. After appearing in a series of B movies in Britain, her parents sent her to live with her older sister Joan, an actress in Hollywood. Jackie got some minor roles in low-budget films and television, but by 18, she had returned to England to focus on writing. 

In 1960 she married her first husband, Wallace Austin. They had one daughter, Tracy (born in 1961) and divorced in 1964. Austin died a year later from a deliberate overdose of anti-depression medication.

In 1965 Collins married Oscar Lerman, an art gallery and nightclub owner who was 18 years her senior. They had two daughters Tiffany (born 1967) and Rory (born 1969). 

Her first published novel, The World is Full of Married Menwas published in 1968 when she was thirty-one. Banned in South Africa and Australia and deemed scandalous by some readers and critics – it became a best-seller. Her second novel, The Studpublished in 1969, was also a best-seller; along with her book The Bitch (1979) it was made into a feature film starring Jackie’s sister Joan. 

The 1980s were a pivotal time for Jackie. She relocated her family full time to Los Angeles, and in 1983 her novel Hollywood Wives was published, selling over 15 million copies. Her popularity rivaled her sister Joan, who had a leading role in the hit television show Dynasty. In 1985 Hollywood Wives was made into a popular mini-series starring Candice Bergen, Anthony Hopkins, and Suzanne Somers, among other big names. 

Her second husband, Oscar, died in 1992 from prostate cancer. Following his death Jackie was engaged for a number of years to Los Angeles business executive Frank Calcagnini, who died in 1998 from a brain tumor. 

In 2013 she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). 

Collins wrote 32 novels in her lifetime, and her books sold more than 500 million copies. 

She passed away from breast cancer on September 19th, 2015, in Beverly Hills, California. She was 77 years old. 

Lesson from Collins:

In her novel Lethal Seduction, one of her characters proclaims: “Nothing worth having is easy.” Writing is work, hard work, and if you treat it as such, sitting down to put pen to paper or finger to keyboard, and focusing on what you want – you’ll get there. 

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