Judith Krantz, Whose Tales of Sex and Shopping Sold Millions, Dies at 91


For one article for Cosmo, she was assigned to compile readers’ sex fantasies. In doing so she added a few of her own, only to be told by the magazine’s editor, Helen Gurley Brown, that her fantasies were far too racy for Cosmo to print. Years later, Ms. Krantz cheerfully repurposed them for one of her novels.

At her husband’s urging, Ms. Krantz turned her vivid imagination to fiction in the late 1970s. With the aid of a vigorous publicity campaign by a press agent she had hired, “Scruples,” issued by Crown Publishers, reached No. 1 on The New York Times Best Seller List in the summer of 1978.

By the end of 1979, the novel had sold more than 220,000 copies in hardcover and more than 3 million in paperback. That year, in a highly publicized transaction, Bantam Books bought the paperback rights to “Princess Daisy” for $3.2 million, then a record for a softcover sale.

Ms. Krantz, who moved to Southern California with her family in the early 1970s, lived for many years in an 8,000-square-foot Bel Air home that was a riot of chintz, the silver snuff boxes and 19th-century opaline glass she collected, Chanel suits — she owned at least 40 — and Hermès . (“In a changing world, for a woman who loves handbags, Hermès is a rock in a raging storm,” Ms. Krantz wrote in “Sex and Shopping: The Confessions of a Nice Jewish Girl,” her cannily titled memoir of 2000.)

Ms. Krantz is survived by her sons, Tony and Nicholas, and two grandchildren. Mr. Krantz died in 2007. Her brother, Jeremy Tarcher, died in 2015.

Her other novels include “Mistral’s Daughter” (1982), “I’ll Take Manhattan” (1986), “Dazzle” (1990) and “Scruples Two” (1992).

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