The story of Jackie Collins on BBC Two

Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story takes the viewer on a journey through the author’s life – with a lot of tragedy.

The 2021 documentary tells the untold story of the bestselling author and her mission to build a literary empire for a woman.

Here’s everything you need to know about the once-in-a-lifetime documentary and the six most tragic revelations about her life.


Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story depicts the author’s hugely successful career (Credit: BBC Two)

READ ALSO: Joan Collins’ volatile relationship with sister Jackie is explored in the new film Lady Boss

Five most tragic revelations about her life – her first husband was abused

Jackie Collins’ first husband Wallace Austin was a gambler, an alcoholic, and very controlling.

She married him in 1960, and four years later they divorced.

Austin became addicted to drugs prescribed for manic depression and this led to their breakup.

He died of a deliberate overdose a year after their marriage ended.

The couple had a daughter, Tracy, born in 1961.

In the documentary Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story, we are told that “her traumatic experiences kept coming into play.”

So Jackie found a “picture” that she used as a “shield” – almost like a character in one of her books.

Jackie managed to reinvent himself after the disastrous marriage.

The Jackie Collins Story: Her second husband tragically died

In 1965, Jackie Collins married for the second time.

That marriage to American art gallery and nightclub owner Oscar Lerman was happier.

Jackie and Oscar – who was 18 years older than them – had two daughters, Tiffany (born 1967) and Rory (born 1969).

He also officially adopted Jackie’s first daughter, Tracy, from their previous marriage.

Tragically, Oscar Lerman died of prostate cancer in 1992.

Jackie was heartbroken at his death.

Jackie Collins in a bikini
Jackie in her London apartment in August 1964 (Image: BBC Two)

READ ALSO: Paul O’Grady drives fans wild when he teases a television project with Joan Collins

The Jackie Collins Story: Her fiancé died of a brain tumor

In 1994 Jackie Collins got engaged to Los Angeles CEO Frank Calcagnini.

They enjoyed several happy years together until tragedy struck again.

Frank died of a brain tumor in 1998.

At the time, Jackie said she had survived the tragedies of losing two loved ones, “celebrating their lives instead of dwelling over their deaths.”

She called her second husband Oscar and her fiancé Frank “fantastic men”.

She had a difficult relationship with her sister

Jackie often felt like she was living in the shadow of her older sister, Joan Collins.

Joan was at the center of the big and small screen for seven decades, while Jackie was hugely successful in her self-chosen career.

The glamorous couple often appeared together on the red carpet at parties and events.

Joan even starred in two screen adaptations of Jackie’s novels.

But the relationship was not without complications.

Joan previously revealed that Jackie didn’t like her fourth husband, Peter Holm.

As a result, the sisters didn’t see each other much during their late 80s wedding.

And Jackie felt “inferior” to Joan all her life.

In her diary, when she was 15, Jackie wrote: “Went to a party with Joan. It was fun.

“When I’m with Joan I get a terrible inferiority complex.

“I feel very big, clumsy and boring.”

However, speaking to Loose Women in 2020, Joan described Jackie as “the perfect sister”.

In the documentary, Joan explains her belief that Jackie was reborn as a fruit fly.

Jackie and Joan Collins
Jackie and Joan promote The Stud in September 1977 (Credit: Getty Images / Kent Gavin / Mirrorpix / BBC Two)

The Jackie Collins Story: Your writing was not taken seriously

Jackie Collins is one of the most successful writers in history.

Her slippery novels have sold over 500 million copies in 40 countries.

Her literary career, however, was not always taken seriously because of its romantic and often lewd themes.

As discussed in the documentary Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story, she puts “female sexuality at the center of the world”.

We are told “she changed the way women have sex”.

But maybe half the world wasn’t ready to hear it.

Girls can do everything, was her motto and has become an icon for many women.

But friends and family tell viewers that “what she wrote and who she was were two different things”.

Jackie Collins tragic death from secret illness

Jackie Collins died on September 19, 2015 at the age of 77.

She died of cancer after being diagnosed with stage four breast cancer more than six years before her death.

The author had kept her illness almost entirely to herself.

She told her sister Joan two weeks before she died.

Jackie even flew from Los Angeles to London to appear on the ITV chat show Loose Women nine days before her death.

Jackie Collins
Jackie advertises The World is Full of Married Men in London in 1968 (Image: Getty Images / Bettmann / BBC Two)

Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story on BBC Two – What Is It About?

Lady Boss: Jackie Collins’ documentary on BBC Two examines the life and work of the world-famous author.

The full-length film shows the private struggles of a woman who became an icon of feminism in the 1980s.

But she also hid her personal vulnerability behind a carefully crafted public figure.

Jackie’s family and friends describe the woman they knew behind the headlines.

Joan Collins remembers her late sister, as do Jackie’s daughters and best friends.

Keep an eye out for archive clips from Terry Wogan’s chat show and Michael Caine and Roger Moore arriving for one of their house parties.

Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story will air on Friday, October 15, 2021 at 9 p.m. on BBC Two.

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