September 24, 2015 5:35 AM EDT

It’s unsurprising that novelist Jackie Collins, despite some acting credits to her name, walked away from onscreen work in the 1960s. She was meant to be the star of the show, not a supporting player. With her sister Joan (the star of TV soap opera Dynasty), Collins came to represent the decadence of 1980s Hollywood, making a fortune through scandalous novels like Hollywood Wives, Hollywood Husbands and (what else?) Hollywood Kids.

Collins, who died Sept. 19 at 77, was a provocateur, one of literature’s best. The famed romance novelist Barbara Cartland called Collins’ first novel, 1968’s The World Is Full of Married Men, “nasty, filthy and disgusting.” And in 2010, Collins bragged that real Hollywood wives “hated me. I got beneath the facade and into the mansions.” But she was also an inveterate hard worker, writing each day in longhand on legal pads. Her final novel, The Santangelos, came out in June.


This appears in the October 05, 2015 issue of TIME.

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