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Bestselling romance novelist Judith Krantz dies aged 91

Krantz’s books have been translated into 52 languages and sold more than 85 million copies worldwide.

Judith Krantz, during a 1990 interview at her home in Bel Air, Los Angeles.
Judith Krantz, during a 1990 interview at her home in Bel Air, Los Angeles.
Image: Deidre Hamill/AP/Press Association Images

AUTHOR JUDITH KRANTZ, famous for novels such as Scruples and Princess Daisy, died Saturday at her Bel-Air home. She was 91.

Krantz’s son Tony Krantz, a TV executive, confirmed her death by natural causes on Sunday afternoon. He said he’d hoped to re-create the Scruples miniseries before her she died but it is still in the works.

“She had this rare combination of commercial and creative,” he said.

Krantz wrote for Cosmopolitan and Ladies Home Journal magazines before discovering, at age 50, the talent for fiction that made her rich and famous like the characters she created.

Her first novel — Scruples in 1978 — became a best-seller, as did the nine that followed. Krantz’s books have been translated into 52 languages and sold more than 85 million copies worldwide. They inspired a series of hit miniseries with the help of her husband, film and television producer Steve Krantz.

“I always ask myself if what I’m writing will satisfy a reader who’s in a plane that can’t land because of fog, or who’s recovering from an operation in a hospital or who has to escape to a more delightful world for whatever reason,” Krantz said in 1990. “That is the test.”

Krantz made no apologies for the steamy novels with titles like Princess Daisy, Mistral’s Daughter, Lovers, I’ll Take Manhattan and The Jewels of Tessa Kent.

“I write the best books I know how,” she once said. “I can’t write any better than this.”

She filled her stories with details about her characters’ lavish lifestyles — designer clothes, luxurious estates — and romances. And she spared no specifics when it came to sex.

“If you’re going to write a good erotic scene, you have to go into details,” Krantz told the Los Angeles Times in 1990.

I don’t believe in thunder and lightning and fireworks exploding. I think people want to know what’s happening.

Obit Judith Krantz Source: AP/PA Images

Sex and shopping

The author was also famous for living a glamorous life that paralleled that of her characters. Her home in Los Angeles’ Bel Air community featured a soundproof writing room flanked by an immaculately kept garden. In her closet were many of the same designer-label clothes the characters in her books wore.

The eldest of three children, Krantz was born Judith Bluma Tarcher in 1928 in New York City. Her father owned an advertising agency, and her mother worked as an attorney. Her brother, publisher Jeremy Tarcher, married the late ventriloquist Shari Lewis.

Growing up, Krantz was a student at New York’s exclusive Birch Wathen school, once describing herself as the youngest, smartest and shortest girl in her class. After skipping two grades, she enrolled at Wellesley College at age 16.

She was also by her own account an indifferent college student. She said she only enrolled at Wellesley “to date, read and graduate” and claimed to have set a record for her dorm by once dating 13 different men on 13 consecutive evenings.

Krantz had met her husband through her high school friend Barbara Walters, who introduced the two in 1953. They married the following year.

“I fell in love with him the minute I saw him,” she once said.

Her husband died in 2007 at age 83. The couple had two sons, Tony and Nick, a stockbroker, and two grandchildren.

Krantz’s family requested that donations be given to the Library Foundation of Los Angeles in lieu of flowers.

Her memoir, Sex and Shopping: The Confessions of a Nice Jewish Girl, was published in 2001 and it reflected on her penchant for telling sex-drenched tales about the pretty and the privileged.

“In my opinion, there are two things women will always be interested in — sex and shopping,” she said in 1994. “And if they’re not, they’ve left out a large part of the fun in life.”

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