Judith Krantz was born in New York City and graduated from Wellesley College in 1948. She was a fashion publicist in Paris in the late 1940s before becoming the fashion editor for Good Housekeeping magazine. Krantz was also a contributing writer to McCall’s magazine and Ladies’ Home Journal and was the contributing West Coast editor of Cosmopolitan from 1971 to 1979. Her first novel, Scruples, was published in 1978 and remained on the New York Times best-seller list for more than a year. Krantz published her autobiography, Sex and Shopping: The Confessions of a Nice Jewish Girl, in 2000, as well as numerous other novels, all of them best-sellers. Her books are about fashion, beauty, fame, money, and sex, and always feature working women.
For many years, Judith Krantz was the third-largest-selling female novelist in history. She created plots and subplots as she wrote about fascinating women, beauty, fame, money, and sex. Although her goal was for her books to provide escape and entertainment, she did try to make some serious points and wove such issues as antisemitism and the German occupation into her novels. All of her heroines were working women, and she 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 as 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 BA in 1948. She was a fashion publicist in Paris in the late 1940s. She then became the fashion editor for Good Housekeeping magazine. She was also 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 had two sons, Nicholas and Anthony, and lived in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles.
Krantz’s first novel, Scruples, was published in 1978. She 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 viewed 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 remain 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. Subsequently, Krantz wrote her autobiography, Sex and Shopping, as well as eight other novels, all of them best-sellers.
Judith Krantz died on June 22, 2019.
Selected Works by Judith Krantz
I’ll Take Manhattan (1986).
The Jewels of Tessa Kent (1998).
Mistral’s Daughter (1983).
Princess Daisy (1980).
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.