Jackie Collins chronicled the steamy side of L.A.'s rich and famous

Jackie Collins

Jackie Collins died of breast cancer on Saturday in Los Angeles. The “Hollywood Wives” novelist was 77.

(Greg Gorman)

Author Jackie Collins, who died at age 77 of breast cancer, was a prolific, unflinching, beloved and at times controversial chronicler of Hollywood glitz through her many bestselling novels.

Collins, originally from England, once wryly explained her success to The Times this way: "Most Hollywood novels are written by failed screenwriters. And failed screenwriters never get into any of the good parties.”

Here are some thought Collins offered to The Times over the years about writing about Los Angeles’ rich and famous:

On how L.A. was the key to her success: “If you wish to be successful, there is a place you should be at a certain time. And Los Angeles in the 1980s was it. My books were quite successful around the world, but I couldn’t quite crack America -- they would only be on the bestseller lists for a couple of weeks. So for ‘Chances,’ I wanted to be here to promote it. And it was the 10th-best-selling book in America that year... Anyway, my publisher was paying, because it was a promotion tour, and we started in New York and moved across the country. Finally we arrived here at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and after a while it wasn’t a tour anymore and so the publisher stopped paying our hotel bill, and we kept moving to smaller and smaller rooms till we were down to just two rooms. And we just stayed. We lived here for about six months, and then we rented a house Stevie Wonder had just vacated. And then we bought a house, and I’ve never left!”


On the breakthrough “Hollywood Wives,": "I didn’t become established until ‘Hollywood Wives,’ which I wrote after I had lived here for a while and observed those women. Oh, my God! They were scary in the ‘80s!... They don’t do anything. They’re into maintenance, nails and skin. It is kind of boring. Then they have a book ghostwritten or something and then they’ll pretend to be a writer for about five minutes and they’ll think that that will change everything.... If I didn’t censor myself I could really skewer this town. But I couldn’t do that because I have a lot of good friends here. But I think I do capture this place the way it is. People deny it, but people have always denied the casting couch exists. Of course it exists!”

On how  she did her research (from an 1987 interview): “Basically, I like to go and watch people. I’ve very fond of Le Dome because it’s a great place to relax. I like the Ivy. I was there the other night, and Meryl Streep was at one table and John Travolta was at the other. Trader Vic’s, because more of L.A. society goes there, is interesting, too. And, of course, Spago..... "This would be an example of things I write down in my notebook... It says, ‘Mercedes deal.’ ‘Horror in bedroom.’ ‘Necking every two minutes.’ ‘Pornographer.’”

On her practice of writing books in longhand instead of using computers: "First of all, I love my handwriting. Everybody can understand it. Secondly, I love the fact that when a book is finished, I can get it leatherbound and store it in my library. To me, writing is writing. It’s not typing it on the computer. I do a lot of other things on the computer.”

On her legacy: “I want to be remembered for writing books that really reflected the particular time I wrote them in." 


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