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Judith Krantz, the romance novelist with more than 80 million copies in print, dies at 91

Sonaiya Kelley, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- Judith Krantz, author of blockbuster romance novels including "Scruples" and "Princess Daisy" that sold more than 80 million copies worldwide, died Saturday in Los Angeles of natural causes. She was 91. The news was originally reported by Deadline.

Once called "the hardest working woman in trash fiction," Krantz's books have been translated into more than 50 languages. Seven have been adapted as TV miniseries, with her late husband, Steve Krantz, serving as executive producer for most of them.

Her fantasy novels focused on the lifestyles of the rich and the dangerously beautiful. And there was plenty of sex, of course. In her 2000 memoir "Sex and Shopping: The Confessions of a Nice Jewish Girl," she explained that every one of her novels included at least one character who loses her virginity because she found her own experience so momentous.

Krantz, (nee Tarcher) was born on Jan. 9, 1928, in New York City to an advertising executive and an attorney. Upon graduating from the city's Birch Wathen School, she attended Wellesley College, from which she graduated in 1948.

Shortly after graduation, she moved to Paris and found work as a fashion publicist. She returned to New York the following year and began her career as a magazine journalist, first at Good Housekeeping, where she was eventually promoted to fashion editor.

At a Fourth of July party hosted by her high school friend Barbara Walters, she met film and TV producer and writer Krantz, who would eventually become her husband. They were married for 53 years until his death in 2007.


In her 27-year journalism career, Krantz freelanced for magazines such as Macleans, McCall's, Ladies' Home Journal and Cosmopolitan.

In 1977, inspired by her husband's encouragement, Krantz published her first novel, "Scruples," at age 50. After four months in circulation, it topped the New York Times best-seller list.

"Halfway through the first chapter, I felt I was flying without wings," she told the Los Angeles Times in 1990. "I write the best books that I know how. I can't write any better than this."

"Scruples" was followed by "Princess Daisy," which also became a No. 1 New York Times best-seller and set the record at the time for the highest price ever paid for a novel.


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