Judith Krantz, Best-Selling Author and Journalist, Dies at 91

Judith Krantz — Publicity — P 2019
Harry Langdon

She wrote for publications including Macleans, McCalls, Ladies Home Journal and Cosmopolitan and penned such books as 'Scruples' and 'Princess Daisy.'

Judith Krantz, a best-selling author and journalist, died Saturday from natural causes in her Bel Air home surrounded by her family, friends and four dogs, her publicist John Tellem told The Hollywood Reporter. She was 91.

Krantz spent 27 years as a journalist, having written for publications including Macleans, McCalls, Ladies Home Journal and Cosmopolitan. Her most recognized work was "The Myth of the Multiple Orgasm," which was published in Cosmopolitan. 

Krantz was born on Jan. 9, 1927, in New York City, the eldest child of Jack D. Tarcher, an advertising executive, and Mary (Braeger) Tarcher, an attorney. Her siblings include brother Jeremy Tarcher, a publisher, and sister Mimi Brien, a financial analyst.

Krantz attended Wellesley College and received her B.A. in 1948. After graduating, she became a fashion publicist in Paris in the late 1940s. She later returned to New York, where she began her career in journalism. She ultimately became fashion editor for Good Housekeeping magazine. Krantz later served as the contributing West Coast editor of Cosmopolitan from 1971-1979.

Though never having written fiction before, Krantz published her first novel, Scruples, in 1977after having also recently celebrated her 50th birthday. Scruples remained on The New York Times' best-seller list for more than a year.

Her second novel, Princess Daisy, was published in 1980 and set the record for the highest price ever paid for a novel at the time. Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Krantz said, "There is literally nothing that can compare to finding the work that you were meant to do."

Following her success, Krantz penned an autobiography, Sex and Shopping, as well as eight other novels, which became best-sellers. 

Krantz was known to write 10,000 words per week, keeping a rigorous, disciplined daily writing schedule. Female empowerment, achievement and artistry were prominent themes in her novels.

Seven of Krantz's novels were adapted for television as miniseries, with her husband Steven serving as executive producer. In the 1980s and 1990s, Steven Krantz produced miniseries of his wife's novels, including Scruples, Mistral's Daughter and Dazzle. She also penned an original miniseries for television, dubbed Judith Krantz’s Secrets, in 1992.

Krantz's 10 novels — beginning with Scruples in 1978 and ending with The Jewels of Tessa Kent in 1998 — have together sold more than 85 million copies in more than 50 languages.

Because of her love for reading and writing, Krantz remained an enthusiastic supporter of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles (LFLA) and an active member of The Council of the Library Foundation.  In 2014, she received the Light of Learning Award from the LFLA. In recognition of her many years of support, the Los Angeles Public Library named the Judith Krantz Fiction Collection in her honor.

Krantz also served as the former president of The Blue Ribbon, which gives annually to the Music Center of Los Angeles. 

She and Steve were married for 53 years. He died in 2007 from complications of pneumonia.

Krantz is survived by her son, Tony; daughter-in-law Kristin Dornig Krantz; and son Nicholas.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Library Foundation of Los Angeles (630 West 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071, 213-228-7500). 

Deadline was first to report the news.