Jackie Collins, novelist of the rich and scandalous, dies

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Romance Author Jackie Collins Dies at 77

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The novels of Jackie Collins dramatized 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.

Collins, whose books like "Hollywood Wives" were as brazenly sexual as they were proudly pulpy, sold hundreds of millions of novels in dozens of countries, and it led to a level of wealth, celebrity and glamour that in many ways surpassed her own characters, and arguably matched that of her older sister, "Dynasty" actress Joan Collins.

Collins died at age 77 of breast cancer in Los Angeles, her publicist Melody Korenbrot said.

See more of Jackie Collins's life in the gallery below:

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Jackie Collins passes away
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Jackie Collins, novelist of the rich and scandalous, dies
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 24: Author Jackie Collins signs and discusses her new book 'The Santangelos' at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on June 24, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vincent Sandoval/Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured: Jackie Collins -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 24: Novelist Jackie Collins signs and discusses her new book 'The Santangelos' at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on June 24, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 11: Jackie Collins speaks with Ali Wentworth about her new book 'Happily Ali After' at Bergamot Station on June 11, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Alison Buck/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Actress Joan Collins (L) and producer Jackie Collins attend the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 22, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 22: Author / Producer Jackie Collins attends the Women's Guild Cedars-Sinai Luncheon at Beverly Hills Hotel on April 22, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 17: Author Jackie Collins signs copies of her new book 'The Lucky Santangelo Cookbook' at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on April 17, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Beck Starr/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: Author Jackie Collins attends the 19th Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books - Day 2 at USC on April 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: Novelist Jackie Collins arrives to the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Author Jackie Collins signs her new novel 'Confessions Of A Wild Child' at Book Soup on February 15, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vincent Sandoval/WireImage)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 21: Jackie Collins addresses guests at a cocktail event to celebrate the launch of her new book, 'Confessions of a Wild Child' on October 21, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Jackie Collins meets fans and signs copies of her new book 'The Power Trip' at Selfridges on September 28, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Danny Martindale/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Jackie Collins meets fans and signs copies of her new book 'The Power Trip' at Selfridges on September 28, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ferdaus Shamim/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 04: Boots CEO Steve Lloyd (L) and Jackie Collins attend BritWeek 'An Evening With Piers Morgan, In Conversation With Jackie Collins' benefiting Children's Hospital Los Angeles at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on May 4, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images For Champneys For BritWeek)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured: (l-r) Jackie Collins, Alexandra Wentworth -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Author Jackie Collins arrives at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Sunset Tower on February 26, 2012 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 19: Jackie Collins arrives for her book signing of 'Goddess Of Vengeance' at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on September 19, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Matt Lauer and Jackie Collins appear on NBC News' 'Today' show (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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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." 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.

Collins told The Associated Press in a 2011 interview that she "never felt bashful writing about sex."

"As a writer, you can never think about who is going to read your books. Is it going to be my mom? My children? A lot of people say to me, 'Oh, I read your books under a cover with a flashlight when I was really young and I learned everything I know about sex from you.' "

She was born Jacqueline Jill Collins in London in 1937, the daughter of a theatrical agent and a dance teacher.

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. 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.' "

Collins followed in the 1970s with books like "The World is Full of Divorced Women" and "Lovers & Gamblers."

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. It came at the same time that her sister hit the height of her own fame on "Dynasty."

"Dynasty" producer Aaron Spelling would also produce the 1985 hit TV miniseries of "Hollywood Wives," which featured Candice Bergen, Angie Dickinson and Suzanne Somers, among others.

It led to follow-ups like "Hollywood Husbands" (1986), "Hollywood Kids" (1984) and "Hollywood Wives: The New Generation" (2001).

The books made Jackie Collins a celebrity in her own right, and she loved the part, looking, living and behaving more like an actress than an author. In many ways, her own persona was her greatest character.

Collins embraced Twitter in her later years, and she loved the engagement with her over 150,000 followers.

"I love tweeting. I have so much fun with my fans," she told the AP in 2011. "I've asked them for reviews. I answer people's questions. Sometimes I'll do a little survey and say, 'Who is hot this week?' "

Many were using Twitter to mourn her Saturday night, including Oprah Winfrey, who Tweeted "RIP Jackie Collins. I always loved our interviews."

See reaction to Collins's death from social media:

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Reactions to Jackie Collins death
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Jackie Collins, novelist of the rich and scandalous, dies
Shocked & devastated at the death of @JackiejCollins. Loved & respected her. Thoughts & prayers go out to her family. http://t.co/1RfmNEsm5G
#RIPJackie Collins. I always loved our interviews.
Jackie Collins. What a dame. RIP my lovely friend. https://t.co/2gyvQXROfY
In Hawaii w my pal. Brilliant, fearless, beautiful, funny, naughty, LOYAL, brave...I'm crushed. @jackiejcollins http://t.co/kZ8r3YNlQU
Jackie Collins you were a light & it was a pleasure to know you. Thank you for bringing joy to so many. #RIPJackie http://t.co/4zptFms0uw
I'm so sad to hear about the passing of Jackie Collins..my love and prayers go out to her family and… https://t.co/Lfe6naWFZo
I'm shocked & saddened by Jackie Collins' passing. She was a true talent, a beautiful being & a dear friend.
I'm so sad to hear of the passing of Jackie Collins. My heart is broken. 💔💔💔💔💔 What an honor to know her. #RIP http://t.co/EBLcsM5aeC
Horribly sad news about Jackie Collins. She was a lovely, very special woman. RIP.
Started out as just a fan of @jackiejcollins, then got to know her & she was, as she liked to say, a "rock star". A wonderful spirit
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Larry King Tweeted that Collins was a "true talent, a beautiful being and a dear friend."

Collins' books didn't stick strictly to Hollywood. She penned a series of mafia novels documenting the lives of the Santangelo family, focusing on its patriarch Gino and his daughter Lucky. She wrote nine novels based on the family that included her last, "The Santangelos," published this year.

Collins told People magazine, which first reported her death Saturday, in her final interview Sept. 14 that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer over six years ago, but she had chosen to keep the news among family, confiding mainly in her three daughters, 54-year-old Tracy, 48-year-old Tiffany and 46-year-old Rory.

A family statement called Collins "a true inspiration, a trailblazer for women in fiction and a creative force. She will live on through her characters but we already miss her beyond words."

Watch more coverage below:

'Witty, Glamorous and Exciting'

Collins was married twice, the second time to art gallery and nightclub owner Oscar Lerman in 1965. Lerman died in 1992. She was then engaged to Los Angeles businessman Frank Calcagnini, who died in 1998.

Asked by the AP in 2011 if she was dating anyone, Collins said "I have a man for every occasion."

"When I was a kid growing up, I used to read my father's Playboy and I'd see these guys and they had fantastic apartments and cars," she said. "I have all of that now. Why would I want to hook myself up with one man when I've had two fantastic men in my life? One was my husband for over 20 years, and one was my fiance for six years."

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