Jackie Collins was a onetime actress and best selling romance novelist who made the bulk of her fortune from novel sales and movie rights. Throughout her writing career, Jackie Collins published 32 novels including her best known “Lucky Santiago” series. She sold over $500 million copies. Several of her novels were made into movies and television miniseries which Collins wrote the screenplays for and in most cases produced. Here’s how Jackie Collins achieved a net worth of $180 million.
Jacqueline Collins was born on October 4, 1937, and grew up in the artsy Hampstead neighborhood of London. Her father Joseph, was a theatrical agent. He and her mother Else had three children. Jackie had an older sister, Joan would become an actress best known for her role as Alexis Carrington in the 1980’s nighttime soap opera “Dynasty”. Their brother Bill became a real estate agent. Jackie once described herself as a trouble-making teenager and was expelled from Hampstead High School, an elite all-girls school. She apparently dated Marlon Brando as a teen.
During the early 1960’s, Jackie Collins tried to make a career out of acting. Jackie moved to Los Angeles, California with her sister. Unlike her older sister, Jackie never really reached more than roles in B movies. She appeared in films including “Barnacle Bill”, “Passport to Shame” and “Intent to Kill”. She also had roles in some television soap operas and appeared in television series including “Danger Man” and “The Saint”. Jackie also tried her hand at singing. She was briefly married to Wallace Austin with whom she had a daughter, Tracy.
In 1965 Jackie Collins married Oscar Lerman, the owner of a night club and art gallery. The couple had two daughters, Tiffany and Rory. Lerman adopted Tracy. While acting in small roles, Jackie began writing romance novels. Lerman urged her to pursue a writing career.
Jackie found her knack writing romance novels which some saw as too explicit but would help make her one of the world’s best selling romance novelists with most of her books on the New York Times Best Sellers List. Published in 1968, Jackie’s first novel “The World Is Full of Married Men” was banned in Australia and South Africa but this seemed to increase sales in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. She followed up with “The Stud”, “Sinners” and “The Love Killers”, which was her first novel about an organized crime which would be a theme to carry over into other novels.
Several of Jackie Collins’ novels would introduce major characters that would continue in future novels and some introduced spinoffs. 1975’s “The World Is Full of Divorced Women” spun from Jackie’s first novel. 1977’s “Lovers and Gamblers” introduced rock and roll and soul singer Al King. Jackie’s seventh novel “The Bitch” was a sequel to “The Stud”. 1981’s “Chances” introduced one of Collins’ most famous characters, gangster daughter Lucky Santangelo. Lucky would be featured in several of Collins’ novels including 1990’s “Lucky Boss”, 1999’s “Dangerous Kiss” and Collins’ last published novel 2015’s “The Santangelos. Other popular novels written by Jackie Collins include “Hollywood Husbands”, “Rock Star”, “Hollywood Kids” and a 4 part mini-novel series, the thriller “L.A. Connections”. Collins also published a cookbook “The Lucky Santangelo Cookbook” in 2014. She was working on her memoir when she died in 2015.
TV and Film Adaptations and Original Screenplays
Early in her writing career, several of Jackie Collins’ novels were turned into films and television mini-series. The first screen adaptation was “The Stud” which was made into a movie in 1978 starring Jackie’s sister Joan as Fontaine Khaled. This was followed by the movie version of the sequel “The Bitch”. In 1980 Jackie wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of her first published novel, “The World is Full of Married Men”. Jackie’s first New York Times Number 1 Best Seller, “Hollywood Wives” was made into a television miniseries in 1985. Although Jackie was not a big part of this, the popular miniseries was produced by Aaron Spelling and starred Candice Bergman, Angie Dickenson, Suzanne Summers, Stephanie Powers, Anthony Hopkins, and Rod Steiger. Another popular television miniseries based on Jackie’s books was 1990’s “Lucky Chances” starring Sandra Bullock and Nicollette Sheridan. In 1993, Jackie appeared on the television show “This is Your Life”. She also hosted a short-lived talk show, “Jackie Collins’ Hollywood” in 1998.
Aside from the success of her novels, Jackie Collins received several honors throughout her career. This included being named the UK’s fifth-richest author on The Sunday Times’ “Rich List 2011”. Jackie also received Birthday Honors for Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
With her $180 million fortune, Jackie Collins was able to live a luxurious lifestyle. She had homes in London and Los Angeles with L.A. being her main base. She owned a 25,000 square foot home in Beverly Hills which she considered the best place to write her novels because of its close exposure to people who were much like her characters. She and her second husband built the home which was completed just a week before Oscar Lerman’s death in 1992. The home is built around a large pool. It’s grand and luxurious with a marble staircase and art gallery, a movie theater, a gym and sauna, tennis courts and a library for writing. While living in the home, Jackie decorated it throughout with her collection of panther, cheetah and Buddha ornaments.
Jackie Collins’ continued writing through the 2000’s and up to her death in 2015. She was engaged to Frank Calangnini from 1994 until his death in 1998. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, Jackie Collins continued writing and was active before her death on September 19, 2015. She didn’t even tell her sister Joan about cancer until two weeks before her death. Just after that, Jackie flew to London to appear on a talk show.