March 1

This Day in History

Literary

Mar 1, 1996:

Joan Collins wins lawsuit against Random House

On this day in 1996, actress and bestselling novelist Joan Collins won a judgment against Random House for $1 million. In 1990, Random House had offered Collins $4 million in a two-book deal, and paid a $1.2 million advance, with the rest due on delivery of the manuscripts. But when Collins turned in the first of the two books, the publishing house claimed it was "unreadable" and sued for the return of the advance. The court ruled in favor of Collins and demanded that Random House pay her an additional $1 million for the work she turned in.

The novel, not surprisingly, was never published.

Collins, a British-born actress and older sister of bestselling novelist Jackie Collins, had already starred in some 50 movies and 25 television shows, including the 1980s hit Dynasty, when she sold her first novel to Simon and Schuster for a rumored $3 million. Critics trashed the book, Prime Time (1988), which nonetheless became a bestseller. Her next book, My Secrets, was published in 1994, followed by Second Act in 1996. Her tangle with Random House evidently failed to quell her literary ambitions: She published My Friends' Secrets, a beauty book, in 1999.

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