Five Things You Should Know About Jacqueline Susann
All this talk of mixing pills and booze has got me thinking about one of my favorite trashy novelists, Jacqueline Susann, a writer who has seemed to escape the attention of many modern women (well, at least every other woman at The Frisky). Susann is best known for penning “Valley of the Dolls”, loosely based on her own life (it also spawned a terrible movie and a short-lived TV series), but she also wrote two other books that sit on my nightstand — “Once Is Not Enough” and “The Love Machine”. I’m not going to pretend like all three aren’t basically the exact same book, about a group of female friends who drink, do drugs, and have sex during the ’60s — Susann was definitely a one-trick pony, but she was good at all that debauchery. I decided to read up on some facts about the original trashy beach read writer — all the scandalous info, after the jump…1. She was the original Paris Hilton. Her first novel, “Every Night, Josephine!”, was based on her experiences with her poodle (named Josephine, natch), whom she sometimes dressed up in outfits to match her own.
2. She was a crappy mother. Susann and her husband Irving Mansfield had a son, Guy. Guy was diagnosed with autism, a fact which his parents hid, and was sent to live in an institution as a child. He lived there his entire life (it’s unknown whether he’s still alive) and supposedly Susann was “tortured” by the guilt of abandoning her son.
3. She would make Emily Post proud. While touring the country to promote the release of “Valley of the Dolls” (her second novel), Susann signed each copy of her book that was available and then wrote down the name and address of every person she met so she could later sent everyone thank you cards.
4. She was dramatic until the very end. A former aspiring actress, Susann was afflicted with breast cancer around the time that “Valley of the Dolls” was released — she hid her illness from the press and had a mastectomy in secret. In 1973, her cancer returned with a vengeance and she lapsed into a coma for seven weeks. She awoke before dying and reportedly her last words to her husband were, “Let’s get the hell outta here, doll.”
5. She was profitable and popular, but not respected. Though “Valley of the Dolls” sold 30 million copies and is one of the best-selling novels of all time, other writers of her era hated her. Gore Vidal said, “She doesn’t write, she types!”, while Truman Capote said she looked like “a truck driver in drag.”