Best-selling author Jackie Collins, queen of the ‘bonkbuster’, dies aged 77 after secretly battling breast cancer
Jackie Collins, 77, kept her cancer diagnosis almost entirely to herself
Gave an emotional interview five days ago saying she had no regrets
Collins said she had lived life like Frank Sinatra, and ‘did it my way’
Tearfully added that she would ‘always be there’ for her three daughters
Sister Joan, 82, says she is ‘completely devastated’ to lose her ‘best friend’
Jackie Collins has died aged 77 after a long battle with breast cancer.
The English novelist was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer more than six years ago but kept her illness almost entirely to herself.
A spokesman for her family said: ‘It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the death of our beautiful, dynamic and one of a kind mother, Jackie Collins, who died of breast cancer today
‘She lived a wonderfully full life and was adored by her family, friends and the millions of readers who she has been entertaining for over four decades.
‘She was a true inspiration, a trail blazer for women in fiction and a creative force. She will live on through her characters but we already miss her beyond words.’
Her sister Joan Collins, 82, said she was ‘completely devastated’ to lose her ‘best friend’.
The best-selling author had spoken to her three daughters Tracy, 54, Tiffany, 48, and Rory, 46, about her illness.
She gave an interview from her home in Beverly Hills five days ago, saying she had no regrets.
Collins said she had lived life like Frank Sinatra, and ‘did it my way’.
In the interview with People magazine, she said: ‘Looking back, I’m not sorry about anything I did.
‘I did it my way, as Frank Sinatra would say. I’ve written five books since the diagnosis, I’ve lived my life, I’ve traveled all over the world, I have not turned down book tours and no one has ever known until now when I feel as though I should come out with it.’
During the emotional interview, Collins – who also has a brother and six grandchildren – said that her family had always been her greatest love.
‘I love being with my family,’ she said. ‘I love sitting out by the pool and watching my [grandkids] play.’
She fought back tears as she added that she wanted her daughters to know that she would ‘always be there’ for them.
The ‘queen of the bonkbuster’ stayed busy even in her final days, traveling to London to appear on Loose Women just nine days before her death.
She also remained active on Twitter, where she posted a picture of her with Harold Robbins and Irving Wallace back in the day.
The novelist, who spent most of her life in America and became a US citizen in 1960, wrote 32 books – all of which made it onto the New York Times Bestsellers’ List.
Collins was born in Hampstead, London in 1937, and had help starting her career from her father, who was a theatrical agent whose clients included Shirley Bassey, The Beatles and Tom Jones.
She was expelled from a private school for girls at the age of 15 after throwing her school uniform into the Thames.
As a young stage singer she appeared alongside the likes of Des O’Connor and reportedly had an affair with Marlon Brando when she was 15 and he was 29.
She told the Daily Telegraph in 2012 that Brando was fun, but nothing more than a ‘schoolgirl crush’. However, she admitted they spent more than one night together.
She and her sister Joan started acting in British B movies, but Jackie largely gave up acting in the 1960s, although did play herself briefly in Minder in 1980.
The two remained close friends, with Jackie telling People magazine in 1987 that she wished her mother could seen what the pair of them have achieved before her death.
Her father, Joe, was proud of her, but thought her books were ‘pornographic’. ‘But he is 83 years old and if he liked my books, I would have to change my style,’ she said at the time.
It was her writing that brought Collins stardom, with her first novel, The World Is Full of Married Men, causing controversy after its release in 1968.
Critics branded it ‘nasty, filthy and disgusting’ and it was banned in Australia and South Africa, but its resulting notoriety caused a huge sales boost in the US and the UK.
Her success was replicated in each of her next novels, which were read by more than 500million people around the globe.
In the 1980s, Collins and her family moved to Los Angeles full-time. Her next novel, Chances, featured her most famous character – Lucky Santangelo.
The ‘dangerously beautiful’ daughter of gangster Gino Santangelo would feature in nine of her best-selling books, of which two were serialized for television, starring Nicollete Sheridan and Sandra Bullock.
Collins would always buy herself a present after a successful novel, and purchased herself a silver Cadillac Seville after the release of Hollywood Husbands – another chart-topper. It would go on to sell at auction for just over $7,000 in 2006.
She went on to present her own daily television show in 1998, Jackie Collins Hollywood, in which she interviewed stars of stage, screen and music, including George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez.
Collins married two times, wedding her first husband Wallace Austin in 1960. They had one child, Tracy, born in 1961, before their divorce in 1964.
In 1965, Collins married art gallery and nightclub owner, Oscar Lerman.
They married in the home of her sister Joan and Anthony Newley, and went on two have two daughters, Tiffany and Rory. Lerman also adopted Collins’ Tracy. Lerman died in 1992 from prostate cancer.
In 1994, Collins became engaged to Los Angeles business executive Frank Calcagnini, who died in 1998 from a brain tumour.
Speaking in 2010, she said: ‘I nursed them both through really traumatic illnesses.
‘Frank was so fit and tall and gorgeous and he got flu one Christmas and the doctor said, “Come in for a chest X-ray.” So he went in and when he came out, he looked at me and said, Im f—–. Theyve given me three months to live”.’
‘And those three months were just horrific. For a while afterwards I couldnt be with people. If they said just one sympathetic word I would burst into tears.’
After Mr Calcagnini’s death, she vowed to never marry again.
In the Sunday Times Rich List 2011, Collins was listed as the UK’s fifth richest author with an estimated personal fortune of $96million (£60 million).
She was given an OBE in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to fiction and charity.
THE 'QUEEN OF THE BONKBUSTER' AND A CANDID SEX LIFE Q&A
Collins spoke to the Daily Mirror in 2010, revealing her own secrets from the bedroom.
Whats the best piece of advice youve had about sex?
Collins: No ones ever given me any advice about sex. I had to learn everything myself. I learnt a lot by reading, and at 12 and 13 I was reading Harold Robbins. A lot of young girls write to me on Twitter or on my website and say, Ive been reading your books under the covers and youve taught me everything I know about sex and my boyfriends not disappointed.
Do men get intimidated by you because of the sex in your books?
Collins: I think I have a good time with men cos Im a big tease. Not in a sexual way, but in the way I talk to them. I remember being at a dinner party recently and talking to a major movie star who I know is scr*wing everything that moves. I said, I hope you use a condom. He said, No I dont, and its worth it. Guys treat me like one of the boys and tell me everything, and I love that.
How much of the sex in your books is based on your own experience? JC: A lot of it is based on my own experience and from things Ive observed and things people have told me. I came to Hollywood when I was 15, and God, this sounds so weary, but Ive seen and done it all, you know what I mean?
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Collins: Matthew Goode, the star of Leap Year. Hes got this Irish accent and hes going to be huge. Hes sexy and a bad boy, hes like a taller Colin Farrell. Did you ever see the Colin Farrell sex tape? My God, hes got an enormous d*** and he comes walking towards the camera with it. Youve got to get hold of it.
Does size matter?
Collins: I knew that was coming. I think the quality of lovemaking matters more than size, although it obviously helps. It gives it a leg up, so to speak.
Is the mile-high club all its cracked up to be or wouldnt you know?
Collins: I do know. But I know the private mile-high club which is in a private plane, so the bathrooms are bigger. But it wasnt my private plane, it was someone elses. And no, Im not telling you whose.
Would you ever make a sex tape?
Collins: You must be crazy. Especially if you think you might become famous, because of course the guys going to sell the tape. Would you want anyone you might eventually break up with to have a sex tape of you? No way. Its done very well for Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton. And those sex tapes were beautifully produced! Two weeks after Pariss came out, she was hosting the Teen Choice Awards. But girls shouldnt follow their example.
Whats the biggest difference between attitudes to sex in Britain and the US?
Collins: English men are more jokey about it and dont take it so seriously. English men are much sexier.