Judith Krantz is the third-largest-selling female novelist in history. She creates plots and subplots as she writes about fascinating women, beauty, fame, money, and sex. Although her goal is for her books to provide escape and entertainment, she does try to make some serious points and has woven such issues as antisemitism and the German occupation into her novels. All of her heroines are working women, and she has said that the subtext of all her books is women’s opportunities.
Judith Krantz was born on January 9, 1927, in New York City, the eldest child of Jack D. Tarcher, an advertising executive, and Mary (Braeger) Tarcher, an attorney. She is close to her brother, Jeremy Tarcher, a publisher, and to her sister, Mimi Brien, a financial analyst.
She grew up in an affluent world that included exclusive schools, but she was not a happy child. Although she always knew she was smart, she described herself as an unpopular child who grew up thinking there was something wrong with her. Her mother praised her accomplishments, but reportedly never noticed her daughter’s insecurity.
She attended Wellesley College and received her B.A. in 1948. She was a fashion publicist in Paris in the late 1940s. She then became the fashion editor for Good Housekeeping magazine. She has also been a contributing writer to McCall’s magazine and Ladies’ Home Journal, and she was the contributing West Coast editor of Cosmopolitan from 1971 to 1979.
In 1953, Judith Tarcher was introduced to Stephen Krantz, her future husband, by Barbara Walters. When they met, Stephen Krantz was head of programming for WNBC in New York. He was later named director of program development for Columbia Pictures Television, had animation studios in New York and Los Angeles, and became a producer, producing television miniseries based on Judith Krantz’s novels. The Krantzes have two sons, Nicholas and Anthony, and live in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles.
Krantz’s first novel, Scruples, was published in 1978. She has said that at first she was afraid she did not have enough of an imagination to write a novel, having been a journalist. Perhaps that is why she incorporated what she knew best, fashion and Hollywood, into her writing. She views Scruples as a source of entertainment, with no illusions about it being literature. Krantz’s quick-paced, romantic plot, her concern for details, and her talent for description paid off and helped Scruples remained on the New York Times best-seller list for more than a year. On the basis of her first novel’s huge success, there was much interest in her second novel, Princess Daisy, published in 1980. Even before the hardcover edition was in bookstores, the paperback rights were sold for what was then the highest price ever paid for such a book. Since then, Krantz has written her autobiography, Sex and Shopping, as well as eight other novels, all of them best-sellers.
Dazzle (1990); I’ll Take Manhattan (1986); The Jewels of Tessa Kent (1998); Lovers (1994); Mistral’s Daughter (1983); Princess Daisy (1980); Scruples (1978); Scruples Two (1992); Sex and Shopping: The Confessions of a Nice Jewish Girl (2000); Spring Collection (1996); Till We Meet Again (1988).
“The Booklist Interview.” Booklist (October 1, 1992): 240–241; Davis, Sally Ogle. “Enter Judith Krantz, Dripping with Cashmere.” Los Angeles Magazine (June 1992): 90–98; Evory, Ann, and Linda Metzger, eds. Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Vol. 11 (1984); Locher, Frances Carol, ed. Contemporary Authors. Vols. 81–84 (1979); McMurran, Kristin. “A Creature of Habit: Talking with Judith Krantz.” People Weekly (April 4, 1994): 25.