Collins, Jackie 1941(?)- (Jacqueline Jill Collins)
Collins, Jackie 1941(?)- (Jacqueline Jill Collins)
Born 1941 (some sources say 1937), in London, England; daughter of Joseph (a theatrical agent) and Elsa (a dancer); married Wallace Austin, 1959 (divorced, 1963); married Oscar Lerman, 1966 (died, 1992); children: (first marriage) Tracy, (second marriage) Tiffany, Rory. Hobbies and other interests: Photography, soul music, exploring exotic locations.
Novelist and screen actress. Producer of television mini-series and specials for CBS-TV, including Hollywood Kids and Sexual Secrets of Men, 1995—.
The World Is Full of Married Men, World Publishing (New York, NY), 1968.
The Stud, W.H. Allen (London, England), 1969, World Publishing (New York, NY), 1970.
Sunday Simmons and Charlie Brick, W.H. Allen (London, England), 1971, published as The Hollywood Zoo, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1975.
Lovehead, W.H. Allen (London, England), 1974, published as The Love Killers, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1975.
The World Is Full of Divorced Women, W.H. Allen (London, England), 1975.
Lovers and Gamblers, W.H. Allen (London, England), 1977, Grosset (New York, NY), 1978.
The Bitch, Pan Books (London, England), 1979.
Chances, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1981.
Hollywood Wives, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1983.
Sinners, Pan Books (London, England), 1984.
Lucky, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1985.
Hollywood Husbands, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1986.
Rock Star, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1988.
Lady Boss, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1990.
American Star: A Love Story, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1993.
Hollywood Kids, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1994.
Vendetta: Lucky's Revenge, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.
Thrill!, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1997.
L.A. Connections (contains Power, Obsession, Murder, and Revenge; all published previously in serial form), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Dangerous Kiss, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.
Lethal Seduction, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.
Hollywood Wives: The New Generation, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
Deadly Embrace, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
Hollywood Divorces, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.
Lovers and Players, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Drop Dead Beautiful, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.
The World Is Full of Married Men was released as a feature film. Chances, Lucky, Hollywood Wives, and Hollywood Kids were produced as television mini-series. Lady Boss was produced as a television feature, 1992. Many of Collins's novels have been released as audiobooks, with the author reading.
Jackie Collins is a popular novelist. Her fast-moving novels, which depict the lives of the rich and famous, have sold more than 400 million copies in more than forty countries. Collins's tales are loosely based upon her own experiences and discoveries as a Hollywood insider. The sister of diva Joan Collins—and an actress and producer in her own right—Collins has been uniquely positioned to observe the lives of the wealthy and famous, and then to fictionalize them in sensational stories that combine steamy sex, intrigue, romance, and revenge. Collins's novels regularly feature rich, ambitious people in competition for money and power. "Some of them get involved with drugs and sex and crime (the bad people)," declared Washington Post contributor Bruce Van Wyngarder. "Some of them get involved with drugs and sex and love (the good people)." In Booklist, Ilene Cooper gave Collins credit for knowing her audience's tastes "and feeding … them with no pretense that what she's serving is anything but candy."
Although some reviewers have dismissed Collins's novels as tasteless and excessive, others, such as Detroit News critic Leola Floren, have defended the books for their occasional valuable insights. Floren's review of Hollywood Wives stated: "It would be easy to self-righteously label this book trashy and worthless—but it's not entirely either. Jackie Collins has a talent for titillation and a knack for wooing the most reluctant of readers into a plot that spends 15 percent of the time peeking at people in the sack and the other 85 percent daydreaming about it." Other reviewers have pointed out that Collins's real-life knowledge of the rich and famous gives her books an authority that readers can sense. Floren also found a deeper level in Collins's novels. "Deliberately or not," maintained the reviewer, "[Collins] speaks eloquently of emptiness through the lives of people who would seem to have everything: French poodles, Mexican maids, American Express." Los Angeles Times contributor Judy Bass believed that Collins's novels are among the most enjoyable of their genre. She concluded: "Jackie Collins caricatures the life styles of the rich and famous with devastating accuracy. She spoofs every nuance of their attire, speech and relationships, never allowing tedium or predictability to dilute the reader's fun."
Born in London in 1941, Collins began writing as a teenager. In school, she wrote racy stories that other students paid to read. She committed various transgressions at school and dropped out before graduation. Her parents eventually sent her to live with her older sister Joan, an actress. Attractive and talented, Jackie also began to find acting roles, like her sister. In Hollywood, Joan continued to build her career as an actress in films and television, while Jackie became a listener who drew celebrities out about their secrets and then turned them into fiction. In an online interview with CNN Interactive, Collins said: "I'm very accepted [in Hollywood], and people like telling me the stories. I guess that it's fun for me. Because I'll be sitting at a dinner party, I'll have a producer on one side, and a famous director on the other, and they will be telling me all the stories from the set, the real stories." Collins has even said that the "real stories" are often more steamy and bizarre than her fictionalized plots.
In her 1988 novel, Rock Star, Collins turns her insider's eye from its usual quarry, the movie industry, to its cousin—the music business. Both her Hollywood novels and Rock Star, Terrence Rafferty suggested in the New Yorker, "are straightforward success-and-failure stories with naughty bits thrown in." Through the lives, sex lives, and rocky careers of Kris Phoenix, a British singer and guitarist, Bobby Mondella, an African-American soul man, and Rafealla, a blues songstress of mixed heritage, Collins reveals the world of contemporary music as seamy and steamy. It is true, observed Victoria Balfour in the New York Times Book Review, that "like Ms. Collins's other novels … ‘Rock Star’ is stuffed with sex scandals, drugs, mobsters and stretch limos." But, in Balfour's opinion: "She is clearly not as comfortable or as confident exposing the music business as when she is taking on the movie industry."
American Star: A Love Story is another rags-to-celebrity story. This time, Collins follows three young people from the same small town in Kansas as they struggle to make their way in show business. Nick Angelo seeks fame as an actor. His half-sister, Cyndra, hopes to make it in Las Vegas as a singer. One of Nick's high school flames, Lauren, is drawn to New York and the world of modeling. The narrative is full of Collins's trademark elements: sudden plot twists, larger-than-life characters, and plenty of heated sex scenes. John Sutherland conceded in his London Review of Books piece that Collins has an insider's knowledge of these worlds of celebrity, but he credited her with scant insight into her characters' modest origins: "She is profoundly vague about the details of growing up a young man in smalltown America. The best she can manage is a kind of low-budget film-set illusionism." However, as inferred by the number of books sold, many readers were likely satisfied with the familiar, glitzy blend of greed, sex, and ambition that is Collins's trademark.
After Hollywood Wives and Hollywood Husbands, it was logical perhaps that Collins would go on to publish Hollywood Kids. Having probed the lives of self-centered parents who have too much, Collins found stories just as rich among their children, who have "too much, too soon"—money, cars, and access to the best restaurants and parties. As Eve Babitz explained in Los Angeles Magazine: "The book braids three strands: AIDS in the background like the Plague; the impulse to be sexy and fabulous; and the practical plodding of life, where days have to be filled somehow, if not by work then trouble." Collins's Hollywood kids include Jordanna, the daughter of a producer, and her four friends, sons and daughters of movie stars and television executives. Each is wrapped up in some kind of mischief and lurking in the wings is a killer bent on eliminating the young witnesses who testified against him in a murder trial. "Plot, though suspenseful, offers few surprises" wrote a contributor to Kirkus Reviews. "Still, it's a Porscheload of fun."
Some critics have reviewed Collins with tongue in cheek. Joe Queenan, writing in the New York Times Book Review, offered a humorous assessment of Hollywood Kids: "Readers impervious to nuance will be tempted to dismiss ‘Hollywood Kids’ as just another trashy novel about a serial killer," he stated. "But if we can look beyond Ms. Collins's glitzy, gory, grubby scaffolding, we can see that the real subject of Hollywood Kids is the death of the American family." Queenan concluded: "In its own perverse way, Hollywood Kids is an admirable, ambitious dissection of the horrible times we live in." Not to be outdone, Michiko Kakutani disguised herself as film character Austin Powers when she reviewed Collins's Dangerous Kiss in the New York Times. "First up, baby, let me tell you why I dig Jackie Collins's Hollywood," she quipped. "To me, Jackie's Hollywood is the '60s with money…. My bag exactly! And the babes are all so groovy: they've all got big hair and tiny frocks, and they all shag like minxes."
Collins carried on her successful series with an entirely different cast in Hollywood Wives: The New Generation. This twenty-first century look at the wives of Hollywood's power brokers features a more modern breed of wives, who also hold down powerful positions in the film industry. In another updated twist, one "wife" in the story is a gay man. Hollywood Divorces, published in 2003, provided the juicy stories of these high-profile relationships as they fall apart. Reviewing Hollywood Divorces for Booklist, Mary Frances Wilkens commented that it was "a fun romp," with all the requisite greed, cheating, and narcissism readers desire in a Collins novel. A Publishers Weekly writer noted the familiarity of the subject matter, but added: "Who can tire of gorgeous, transposable, ambitious, sex-driven jetsetters whose main problems are which hunk to bed and which gown to wear to what party?"
Collins has created a number of recurring characters for her novels, the best known of them the beautiful and powerful Lucky Santangelo who has appeared in Lucky, Chances, Lady Boss, Vendetta: Lucky's Revenge, and Dangerous Kiss. A film studio owner with more than her share of moxie, Lucky has survived mob violence and multiple marriages and skillfully wreaks vengeance on those who would harm her or her loved ones. The "Lucky" novels typically feature "a Hollywood setting; a rich, gorgeous heroine; a generous sprinkling of movie stars, studio bosses, tycoons, socialites, scheming relatives and hangers-on; and a sex scene (or two) per chapter," to quote Jill Gerston in the New York Times Book Review. Booklist correspondent Catherine Sias called Lucky "a calm, cool center for the whirlwind of recklessness, murder, and deceit that surrounds her." Collins has said that she was inspired to create Lucky—as well as her other assertive heroines—by the lack of such female characters in the books she read as a child. She told CNN Interactive that it is these characters, in turn, that spark the steamy sex in her plots. "It's the characters that drive the books, not the sex," she explained. "The sex happens because it happens in life and I'm writing about life."
Collins used a similar premise to that of her "Lucky" series in her 2000 novel, Lethal Seduction. As in the "Lucky" books, the main character, Madison Castelli, is a bold and beautiful daughter of a powerful crime lord, previously appearing in Collins's "L.A. Connections" series. In Lethal Seduction, Madison confronts shocking secrets in her own past. Booklist contributor Deborah Rysso called Lethal Seduction "a bawdy, profane, and frequently bizarre fairy tale that is decidedly not for the faint of heart." A Publishers Weekly writer called it "a typically steamy, fast-paced tale that skips from the glitz and excitement of New York's fast lane to the highstakes, celebrity-rich world of Las Vegas."
Madison was also featured in Deadly Embrace, published in 2002. In this novel, however, it is her father, Michael, who takes center stage. Accused of a double murder—that of Madison's mother and the woman she wrongly believed to be her mother—he drops out of sight. Madison's boyfriend, a photographer, has also vanished, and Madison herself is eventually taken hostage. The story's conclusion will have "the reader either reaching for an antacid or a very dry martini," stated a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
Lovers and Players, published in 2006, is Collins's twenty-fourth novel. Her subject was, as before, the sordid lives of the rich and powerful. In Lovers and Players, the action is in New York, where the Max, Jett, and Chris Diamond have been summoned by their billionaire father, whom they all loathe. Max is a powerful real estate broker; Chris is a high-stakes lawyer in the entertainment industry; and Jett is a top fashion model. Their father's summons marks the first time they have been together in years, and tensions run high as their dark secrets collide. "Vintage Collins here: sex, love, betrayal, and deception. Her fans will certainly enjoy," predicted Kathleen Hughes in Booklist.
With all her inside knowledge, Collins could write a memoir full of celebrity secrets, but she has stated that she will never do this until she is ready to leave Hollywood for good. Eschewing the convenience of word processing, she writes in longhand for as much as ten hours daily when working on a project. Commenting on the fleeting nature of fame, Collins said in an interview with Dominick A. Miserandino for Celebrity Cafe: "I think Hollywood is a fascinating place to write about. Because if you look at the award ceremonies this year you will see a ton of people that you know who they are, they're not particularly quite famous, but they're famous for now. Then if you look at the awards ceremony from five years ago you'll see different faces and where are they today. Success is very fleeting, there are very few that stay the course."
While reviewers may debate the literary value of Collins' novels, few have argued that her work is dull. A Publishers Weekly contributor observed of Dangerous Kiss: "Believable? Not for a minute. Entertaining? Of course." People critic Joanne Kaufman likewise characterized Vendetta as "embarrassing to pick up, impossible to put down."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Newsmakers, Issue 4, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2004.
Booklist, July, 1985, review of Lucky, p. 1474; December 15, 1996, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Vendetta: Lucky's Revenge, p. 691; December 15, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of Thrill!, p. 667; April 15, 1999, Catherine Sias, review of Dangerous Kiss, p. 1451; June 1, 2000, Deborah Rysso, review of Lethal Seduction, p. 1796; February 15, 2001, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Lethal Seduction, p. 1164; June 1, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of Deadly Embrace, p. 1644; October 15, 2003, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Hollywood Divorces, p. 356; December 1, 2005, Kathleen Hughes, review of Lovers & Players, p. 4.
Detroit News, September 11, 1983, Leola Floren, review of Hollywood Wives.
Entertainment Weekly, February 14, 1997, Vanessa V. Friedman, review of Vendetta, p. 56; December 12, 2003, Clarissa Cruz, review of Hollywood Divorces, p. 84; February 10, 2006, Henry Goldblatt, review of Lovers & Players, p. 141.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1994, review of Hollywood Kids, p. 1005; June 15, 2002, review of Deadly Embrace, p. 821; September 15, 2003, review of Hollywood Divorces, p. 1141.
Library Journal, November 1, 2003, Samantha J. Gust, review of Hollywood Divorces, p. 121; January 1, 2006, Samantha J. Gust, review of Lovers & Players, p. 94.
London Review of Books, May 13, 1993, John Sutherland, review of American Star: A Love Story, pp. 23-24.
Los Angeles Magazine, September, 1994, Eve Babitz, review of Hollywood Kids, p. 96.
Los Angeles Times, October 29, 1985, Judy Bass, review of Lucky, p. 4.
New Yorker, June 20, 1988, Terrence Rafferty, review of Rock Star, p. 90.
New York Times, June 15, 1999, Michiko Kakutani, "Those Lips! Those Eyes! That Mojo's Working!"
New York Times Book Review, June 21, 1970, review of The Stud, p. 34; June 12, 1988, Victoria Balfour, review of Rock Star, p. 22; August 20, 1989, Randi Hacker and Jackie Kaufman, "The Sisters Brontë and the Sisters Collins: A Study in Stunning Literary Parallels," p. 12; September 30, 1990, Jill Gerston, "Tell Me about It, Lucky," p. 37; March 28, 1993, Barry Gewen, review of American Star, p. 25; October 9, 1994, Joe Queenan, review of Hollywood Kids, p. 14; February 12, 2006, Alexandra Jacobs, review of Lovers & Players.
Observer, April 24, 1988, review of Rock Star, p. 41; October 7, 1990, review of Lady Boss, p. 61.
People, May 23, 1988, Ralph Novak, review of Rock Star, p. 31; November 5, 1990, Joanne Kaufman, review of Lady Boss, p. 39; September 5, 1994, pp. 110-112; February 3, 1997, Joanne Kaufman, review of Vendetta, p. 33; February 23, 1998, Joanne Kaufman, review of Thrill!, p. 33.
Publishers Weekly, July 5, 1985, Sybil Steinberg, review of Lucky, p. 54; June 6, 1986, review of Lucky, p. 66; December 16, 1996, review of Vendetta, p. 42; December 22, 1997, review of Thrill!, p. 39; May 17, 1999, review of Dangerous Kiss, p. 55; June 26, 2000, review of Lethal Seduction, p. 51; June 3, 2002, review of Deadly Embrace, p. 63; November 10, 2003, review of Hollywood Divorces, p. 43; November 28, 2005, review of Lovers and Players, p. 23.
Quill and Quire, November, 1983, review of Hollywood Wives, p. 28.
Time, October 15, 1990, John Skow, review of Lady Boss, p. 86.
Times Literary Supplement, February 10, 1978, review of Lovers and Gamblers, p. 170; May 28, 1993, Terry Eagleton, review of American Star, p. 7.
Voice Literary Supplement, July, 1988, review of Rock Star, p. 3.
Washington Post, August 26, 1985, Bruce VanWyngarden, review of Lucky, p. C3.
Celebrity Cafe,http://www.thecelebritycafe.com/ (December 8, 2006), interview with Jackie Collins.
CNN Interactive,http://www.cnn.com/ (March 23, 1998), interview with Jackie Collins.
Jackie Collins Home Page,http://www.jackiecollins.com (December 30, 2006).
Simon Says,http://www.simonsays.com/ (December 10, 2006), interview with Jackie Collins.