Pictured: Jacqueline Susann with Andy Warhol.
Jacqueline Susann is a publishing and pop-culture legend. Her debut novel Valley of the Dolls, published in 1966, has sold over 31 million copies in 30 languages and remains one of the best-selling books of all time. With the success of The Love Machine, published in 1969, and Once is Not Enough, published in 1973, Susann became the first author in history to have three consecutive #1 books on The New York Times Best Seller List.
Susann credited much of her success to her husband, television producer Irving Mansfield. Together, the two changed the face of the publishing business, pioneering marketing techniques like the book tour (with Bantam publicist Esther Margolis) and color testing a book jacket for television.
Until the late 1960s, the publishing business was widely considered a "boys club". Not that it phased Jackie, who held the world rapt with her tales about the private passions of Hollywood starlets, high-powered industrialists, and the jet-set. Susann helped democratize fiction by writing books that attracted readers from across the age, gender, and sexual spectrum. She was a pioneer in women's rights and gay rights.
Jacqueline Susann was born August 20, 1918 in Philadelphia, the daughter of prominent society portrait artist Robert Susann and Rose Susann, a schoolteacher. Her marriage to Mansfield lasted 30 years until her untimely death on September 21, 1974, of breast cancer. Susann's courageous yet intensely private twelve-year fight to overcome the disease was not known publicly until after death. She was 56.