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Judith Krantz (1928–2019), bestselling romance novelist wrote “Scruples”

by Linnea Crowther

Judith Krantz was a bestselling romance novelist whose wildly popular books sent their heroines on opulent shopping sprees between sessions of steamy sex.

Judith Krantz was a bestselling romance novelist whose wildly popular books sent their heroines on opulent shopping sprees between sessions of steamy sex. She kept up her sex-and-shopping formula through ten novels, published between 1978 and 1998, including her debut, “Scruples,” as well as “Princess Daisy,” “I’ll Take Manhattan,” and “Till We Meet Again.” Seven of her novels were adapted into television miniseries, and she wrote an original miniseries for television, “Judith Krantz’s ‘Secrets.'” Krantz’s novels were panned by the literary world’s reviewers, but her fans devoured them, catapulting them to the top of the bestseller list and buying them in the tens of millions. The paperback rights to her 1980 sophomore effort, “Princess Daisy,” sold for a record-breaking $3.2 million.

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Died: June 22, 2019 (Who else died on June 22?)

Details of death: Died at home in Los Angeles at the age of 91.

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A late-blooming success: Krantz never planned to become a novelist. In fact, she famously said she learned her lesson about writing fiction after her Wellesley College creative writing professor gave her a B for her atrocious spelling. She did write in her early career — articles, as a freelancer for magazines including Ladies’ Home Journal, McCall’s, and Cosmopolitan, for which she wrote her most notorious piece, “The Myth of the Multiple Orgasm.” Krantz was also fashion editor for Good Housekeeping and wrote for the magazine as well. But when her husband, the late Steve Krantz — whom she’d met at a party thrown by her high school friend, Barbara Walters — urged her to try her hand at fiction, she wrote her first novel. Krantz was 50, and that fiction class was 30 years in her past. She said she wrote “Scruples” to prove to her husband that she wasn’t a good writer, but her fans soon begged to differ as they bought millions of copies of that first novel.

Notable quote: “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.”

What people said about her: “The final effect of [‘Scruples’ and ‘Princess Daisy’] is of being sealed inside a luxury shopping mall whilst being softly pelted with scented sex technique manuals. It is a uniquely late twentieth-century experience and not without a certain preposterous charm, as of a champagne picnic on the crust of an active volcano.” —Critic Angela Carter in a 1980 review

“RIP Judith Krantz, whose novels were wildly entertaining, and who proved that shopping in Beverly Hills, with characters named Valentine and Spider, is a lot more fun than Hemingway, and that author photos demand accessories.” —Novelist Paul Rudnick

Full obituary: Los Angeles Times

Birthdate: January 9, 1928 (Who else was born on January 9th?)

Related lives:

  • Ida Pollock (1908–2013), prolific romance novelist
  • Sue Grafton (1940–2017), alphabet mystery novelist
  • Anita Shreve (1946–2018), bestselling author of “The Pilot’s Wife”


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