Joan Collins on Sister Jackie’s Death: ‘I Am Completely Devastated’

21 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Author Jackie Collins kept battle with cancer secret for six years.

Jackie Collins, who was well known for having authored 32 books on the glamorous, and scandalous lives of Hollywood celebrities, died in Los Angeles, on Satuday, after having fought a six year long battle with breast cancer.Washington: Best-selling author Jackie Collins, whose 32 hugely popular but often controversial steamy novels chronicled the fast and extravagant life of the Hollywood glamorous set and of Mafia families, died on Saturday, reports said. I’ve written five books since the diagnosis, I’ve lived my life, I’ve travelled 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.” Stars on both sides of the Atlantic paid tribute to the Beverly Hills novelist, whose raunchy tales of Hollywood lust, power and money redefined the “bonkbuster” genre.

She was a wonderful, brave and a beautiful person and I love her.” Jackie was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer six-and-a-half years ago but decided to keep her illness a secret. 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. Her 30-odd novels, including ‘The World Is Full of Married Men’, ‘The Stud’, ‘The Bitch’ and ‘Hollywood Wives’, proved wildly successful and sold 500 million copies. Pilloried mercilessly by Barbara Cartland as “nasty” and “disgusting”, it was banned in Australia and South Africa but the furore led to increased attention and sales in Britain and the US. She followed up with ‘The Stud’ in 1969, about the ambitious nightclub owner Fontaine Khaled – which was subsequently made into a film starring her sister.

Passionate: Jackie Collins (in denim, pictured with her sister Joan) was just 15 when she launched a ‘fabulous’ affair with the then 30-year-old actor Marlon Brando, one of Hollywood’s leading men Whe she met him, she said, ‘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”. But Collins’ most famous character was the ravishing Lucky Santangelo, the daughter of Italian-American former gangster Gino Santangelo, who first appeared in “Chances” (1981) and would go to appear in eight of her works which are set in the world of Mafia and organised crime and its relation with business and the entertainment industry and span from the 1920s to the present day. 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. Her other famous novels included ‘Hollywood Wives’ (1983) about the glamorous lives of women behind the scenes of the film industry, ‘Lovers & Gamblers’ (1977), the story of rock/soul superstar Al King, ‘Rock Star’ (1988). She said: “Good for her because she’s sold a lot of books and has got people reading again, but people say to me: ‘Your sex is much hotter’ and I say, ‘I know.’ Sex should be fun and erotic.” (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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. She later went on to writing, after receiving encouragement from her second husband, Oscar Lerman, to whom she was married for 26 years, until his death, in 1992. 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.

The middle child of a variety agent and his beautiful wife, a former nightclub hostess, Jackie Collins, her equally famous older sister Joan and younger brother Bill were brought up in a basement flat in Maida Vale, West London. 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? 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. 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.

Roger Moore said he couldn’t believe he wouldn’t be recognised in one of her characters, and plenty of other stars must have felt the same way. ‘When I wrote Hollywood Wives,’ recalled Jackie, ‘Gregory Peck’s wife Veronique came up to me and said: “You have written Ross Conti [one of the characters] after my husband.” Hollywood Wives in 1983 was her most successful novel, selling 15 million copies and billed as a ‘scandalous exposé’. 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. Although she was careful never to clearly identify any of the stars on whom she based her dreadful characters, there was one A-lister who reportedly had trouble with Collins’ phenomenal success — her sister Joan.

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. They were later reconciled, but Joan admitted they drifted apart in those years. ‘You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family,’ she said. ‘I love my sister but I’m not as close to her as I used to be.

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