‘It’s nice here, isn’t it?” Jackie Collins said in her clear, measured, L.A.-by-the-way-of-London tone. Jack Black and Dr. Phil were sitting nearby on the terrace of the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, but it was Collins’ arrival that created the stir. A large diamond sparkled on her left hand enlivening her appearance in a simple, tailored black suit, offset with dramatic hoop earrings. “I like to sit here where you can see everyone.”
In person Collins is like the content of her books—chatty, funny, irreverent and knowing. Mostly, she is endlessly enthusiastic—she will stop in mid-sentence to declare her various excitements over singers, TV shows, movie stars, friends or just her lunch. “This is the most delicious salad ever,” she announced.
This summer saw the publication of Collins’ 26th book, “Married Lovers”, which centers on a woman named Cameron Paradise, a personal trainer, and a trio of men: a director, a screenwriter, and a late night talk show host, all set in the Hollywood of today.
Twenty-six years ago Collins wrote “Chances”, the bestseller featuring Lucky Santangelo, a heroine who grows up in the mod and takes over the family business. It wasn’t until her next book however, that she became a household name. “I didn’t become established until ‘Hollywood Wives’, which I wrote after I had lived here for awhile and observed those women,” she said. “Oh my God! They were scary in the ‘80s!”
In “Married Lovers,” there is a funny scene in which some Hollywood wives go out to lunch. Collins describes their look: True Religion jeans, James Perse white T-shirts and Birkin bags. “It’s Hollywood Wives,’ the next generation,” she writes.
Collins raised three daughters in L.A., and it sounds as if her exposure to Hollywood wives made her a cautious parent. She stresses that she was “a very strict mother. I took them to school everyday, cooked their dinner every night-before I went out to the nightclubs—and made sure that they were in bed and fed. You can’t just give children a Porsche and a credit card.”
Collins began life in London, where she grew up with her sister, actress Joan Collins. She was thrown out of school at 16, for smoking (“That was the last cigarette I ever had”) and drifted into appearing in films. She married young, had one child, got a divorce, then married again. Her second husband, Oscar Lerman, was a night club and gallery owner, Collins credits him with the beginnings of her career. “I’d done these stupid roles in films—I was always the Italian girl—and he asked me what I was doing, and I told him that I was working on a book. He read it and said, ‘This is fabulous, you have to keep doing it.’”
Collins writes her books right up to the production schedule, so that little editing can be done before publication. “They made a couple of suggestions,” she said, smiling. “But if you’re going to fial, you have to fail on your own mistakes. I sit down and write the book and prefer they don’t ask me any questions until the book is finished.”