Author Jackie Collins kept quiet on cancer days before her death

21 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

BOOKS Jackie Collins, novelist of the rich and scandalous, dies.

Jackie Collins flew from Los Angeles to London to appear on Loose Women just over a week before her death – showing no sign whatsoever that she was terminally ill.It was a move that backfired spectacularly on her parents as within days she was being seduced by Hollywood heartthrob Marlon Brando before falling into the clutches of men she would later base many of her lust-fuelled characters on.LOS ANGELES — Jackie Collins, the bestselling author of dozens of novels including “Hollywood Wives” that dramatized the lifestyles of the rich and the treacherous, died Saturday. “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 4 decades,” Collins’ family said in a statement. “She was a true inspiration, a trailblazer for women in fiction and a creative force.The novels of Jackie Collins dramatised the lives of the most elite people and places, but they were read by everyone, everywhere — from airports to beaches to, sometimes, under the covers with a flashlight to hide from disapproving parents and partners.

The best-selling author, who died on Saturday aged 77 after a six-year battle with breast cancer, was in high spirits and was still speaking about future plans, suggesting she may have taken a sudden turn for the worse after the 10,000-mile round trip. Speaking of the moment Wild One star Brando seduced her, Jackie once said: “This guy came up and said: ‘Marlon thinks you’re great looking and have a great body and would like to meet you.’ “He was my favourite movie star, I’d seen The Wild One 26 times, and then I met him at a party. She will live on through her characters but we already miss her beyond words.” Unlike her older sister Joan Collins, the “Dynasty” actress who was a direct part of the 1980s Hollywood glitterati, Jackie Collins chose to document LA lives in her pulpy, page-turning fiction. She enjoyed every minute of it. ‘Marlon was in his early 30s and I was about to be 16,’ she later recalled of their short affair in Los Angeles, where she was living with her actress sister, Joan.

She spoke of how she enjoyed a ‘proper English cup of tea’ with scones on the British Airways flight to London, before heading straight to Marks & Spencer as she misses the British way of life while at her home in Beverly Hills. He stared straight at my 39in chest, men often talk to my chest, and said, ‘That’s a great looking body you have, little girl.’ “It was such a thrill for me because it was the most amazing introduction to Hollywood.

Collins’ tales of sex, glamour, power and more sex were a forerunner to the culture of Desperate Housewives and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Collins told the ITV show that she hoped to persuade Angelina Jolie to star in a movie adaptation of her latest novel, while also telling all about her ‘research’ for the sexual positions that feature in her ‘bonkbuster’ novels. Her books provided at first more than some wanted to hear, but she became the kind of author from whom readers could never get enough, providing forbidden fodder for housewives and for teenagers raiding their parents’ bookshelves. “As a writer, you can never think about who is going to read your books. Despite secretly suffering from terminal cancer, Collins made the mammoth trip at the start of the month, meeting her sister Joan, 82, for dinner at Wolseley in Mayfair. Soon, Jackie’s charismatic charm and wicked sense of humour made her a must-have fixture at A-List gatherings, with stars all telling her of their own sexpolits, some hoping they’d make it into her next blockbuster novel.

It was a mutual attraction. ‘We went together on and off for a short while, but he was a real womaniser and had a girlfriend and I had another boyfriend, so it was just a bit of fun.’ Collins, who once admitted to only falling in love with five men, said Brando wasn’t one of them. They include Hollywood Wives, Hollywood Husbands, Hollywood Divorces, Rock Star, Lucky, Power Trip, Chances, Lethal Seduction, American Star and The Stud. It came out in 1968 and became a scandalous best-seller, banned in Australia and condemned by romance writer Barbara Cartland. “Barbara Cartland said to me, ‘Oh, Miss Collins, your books are filthy and disgusting and you are responsible for all the perverts in England,’” Collins told Porter Magazine in 2014. “I pause for a few moments and said, ‘Thank you.’” By the 1980s, she had moved to Los Angeles and turned out the 1983 novel she is still best known for, Hollywood Wives, which has sold more than 15 million copies.

A crush and, of course, a chapter’s worth of invaluable source material for a writer whose literary claim to fame was to know the seamy side of Hollywood — names changed, of course — better than anyone else. Brando, as we shall see, wasn’t the only star who chased her when she was just 15, and there was even a blind date she had enjoyed while still a teenager in London with an unnamed ‘prince’ who turned up to pick her up in a gull-wing Mercedes. ‘It was a fantastic car but I didn’t like him much,’ she said. ‘I went to his apartment and he had a jug of champagne filled with white peaches.’ He cooked what she said was the ‘most seductive meal’ she has ever had. The day before she died she was still making plans, praising a fan for coming up with the idea of putting all of her novels with her famed character Lucky into one collection. I try to make it erotic, too.” Born Jacqueline Jill Collins in London in 1937, her first novel, “The World is Full of Married Men,” was a story of sex and show business set in “Swinging London” in the mid-1960s.

Her undeniably wild youth notwithstanding, Collins always insisted she was really quite moralistic and that her amoral fictional characters always got their come-uppance in the end. She tried out ‘every’ sexual position she covered, she insisted, laughing. ‘Absolutely, every one — that’s why I’m exhausted today.’ It raised a laugh but was she serious or joking? For while the best-selling novelist shared the same sort of glamorous lifestyle as the debauched characters in her steamy tales, it was sometimes difficult to be sure how much Collins drew from experience. Left to her own devices she approached several casting directors while making ends meet working as a waitress, pin-up model and mechanic’s assistant in a Beverly Hills garage owned by two brothers.

She gathered her first bits of material by hiding when small in the trolley of food her mother wheeled in to the Friday night card parties of her father and his friends, listening to their chauvinist comments when they thought no women were present. Living on the ground floor was helpful in later years, as she would sneak out of her bedroom window at night and head off to West End jazz clubs wearing tight T-shirts that were risqué enough for her mother to burn them.

But she was expelled after teachers discovered she had a cottage industry writing dirty limericks for pupils for a penny a time and was even then working on her first bonkbuster. Her parents gave the young rebel a choice — reform school or going to live with Joan in Hollywood and trying to follow in her footsteps as a budding actress. Errol Flynn chased her around a table and she also had to counter the advances of an equally lecherous Sammy Davis Jr. ‘He said, “Why don’t you want anything to do with me? Sir Roger Moore, Sandra Bullock and Oprah Winfrey were among the stars tonight paying tribute to Jackie, awarded an OBE in 2013 for her services to fiction and charity. She used to come home to find him with a note on his chest saying: ‘I’ve taken an overdose.’ In 1965, after five years of marriage, she began divorce proceedings, and he committed suicide by taking an overdose of barbiturates.

Collins insisted the book was making a serious point about the double standards applied to male and female infidelity, but it wasn’t just Barbara Cartland who exploded with horror at its X-rated sex scenes. Oscar Lerman, the owner of various nightclubs including the celebrity haunt Tramp in London, encouraged her to keep writing and they remained together — having two daughters — until he died from cancer in 1992. ‘My father was a philanderer so I don’t buy into men being allowed to screw around,’ she once explained. ‘Once a cheater, always a cheater. Women don’t get that.’ Her second book, The Stud, about a highly-sexed, unhappily-married socialite improbably named Fontaine Khaled and her philandering social circle set the template for a writing career in which her 32 novels sold over 500 million copies that were translated into 40 languages. She mixed with them both in her husband’s nightclubs and because, as she became increasingly rich and famous, she was propelled into the same social orbit.

Stars would often approach her at parties and say they had a wonderful story for her if only she wouldn’t put them in her books. ‘I always tell them they’re already in one,’ she said. The sisters were publicly quick to brush off any disharmony, insisting they had helped each other’s careers, particularly when Joan starred in a film version of The Stud and its sequel, The Bitch.

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