Jacqueline Susann

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Jacqueline Susann, that love machine, appearing on some sort of strange 1971 game show/physiognomy experiment called All About Faces, three years before her death. Her partner in the competition is her husband, Irving Mansfield, the publicity agent who tirelessly and skillfully plumped her books. They square off against Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows.

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One more post about Jacqueline Susann and then I promise I’ll stop. This 1967 appearance by Susann on What’s My Line? isn’t particularly riveting, even though it was made in the wake of her jaw-dropping success as a debut novelist with Valley of the Dolls. What’s amusing is the cultural earthquake quietly occurring during this short segment. This brainy program had just been cancelled, a victim of a country’s changing mores. Susann was representative of a new America, a post-Pill society, one that was leaving literate panel shows in its wake. The “barbarians” had crashed the gate. It might seem like the trashy author’s rise and the classy show’s demise was a sad commentary on our nation, but it was really a sign of an improving America, one that was more open, more democratic, more inclusive and more honest. Sometimes I get weary of our in-your-face culture, but I’ll always opt for oversharing instead of no sharing, for too much information rather than not enough.


Mike McGrady, an ink-stained wretch from an era when it seemed like newsprint would flow forever, just passed away. More than his journalistic career, McGrady, to his horror, was best known for Naked Came the Stranger, a trashy 1969 hoax novel that he co-wrote with a couple dozen other Newsday reporters and editors. Meant as a satire of Jacqueline Susann and similar popular writers of the day, it was initially published earnestly under a nom de plume and sold quite well. From Margalit Fox’s New York Times obituary of the late scribe:

“Intended to be a work of no redeeming social value and even less literary value, Naked Came the Stranger by all appearances succeeded estimably on both counts.

Originally issued by Lyle Stuart, an independent publisher known for subversive titles, the novel was a no-holds-barred chronicle of a suburban woman’s sexual liaisons, with each chapter recounting a different escapade:

She has sex with a mobster and sex with a rabbi. She has sex with a hippie and sex with at least one accountant. There is a scene involving a tollbooth, another involving ice cubes and still another featuring a Shetland pony.

The book’s cover — a nude woman seen from behind — left little to the imagination, as, in its way, did its prose:

‘Ernie found what Cervantes and Milton had only sought. He thought the fillings in his teeth would melt.’

The purported author was Penelope Ashe, who as the jacket copy told it was a ‘demure Long Island housewife.’ In reality, Mr. McGrady had dreamed up the book as ironic commentary on the public’s appetite for Jacqueline Susann and her ilk.”


A 1975 adaptation from the director of The Opening of Misty Beethoven:

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Priggish Canadian interviewer Barbara Frum and pills-and-vulvae novelist Jacqueline Susann insult and irritate each other during the mid-1960s.

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