Defining the New Woman

— Jackie Collins says she was probably first to depict the New Woman in popular fiction, and that's because she lived that life herself. "Actually, I lived my life like a man," she says.

A school dropout at 15, she never looked back. She came to Los Angeles to live with her sister Joan, who was breaking into films. The siblings barely had time to say hello. Joan was off on location, leaving the self-described "wild child" with Joan's car and a clubby apartment.

Two swinging years later, Jackie was back in England, where she married her first husband, who died of a drug overdose. She had started trying to write, she says, but it was second husband, Oscar Lerman, 25 years her senior, who helped provide the plot lines. Lerman owned Tramp, a successful private disco, where they'd "sit at a table and greet a steady stream of what amounted to every rock star, film star and sports star who ever lived in or passed through London."

Being young, beautiful and eager to listen, she became the stars' confidante and amassed information on the personal proclivities of people who never dreamed that the ornamental young wife was rushing home to write down every outrageous thing they'd told her.

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