Best-selling author Jackie Collins, whose novels about the lives of the rich and famous in Hollywood were often inspired by real-life experiences, died today, her family said. Collins, who kept her illness private, died of breast cancer. She was 77.

The mid-1980s TV miniseries Hollywood Wives and 1990 Lucky Chances were based on her books. Additionally her novels The Stud and The Bitch were made into movies that starred her sister Joan Collins. She also adapted The World Is Full Of Married Men for the big screen.

She also produced the TV documentary Jackie Collins Presents in 2004 and most recently took a brief turn in front the camera for Syfy’s Sharknado 3: O Hell No!

“It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the death of our beautiful, dynamic and one of a kind mother, Jackie Collins, who died of breast cancer today,” the family statement said. “She lived a wonderfully full life and was adored by her family, friends and the millions of readers who she has been entertaining for over four decades. She was a true inspiration, a trailblazer for women in fiction and a creative force. She will live on through her characters but we already miss her beyond words.”

Collins, who for a time worked as an actress thinking she might might follow her older sister into an acting career, told NPR in an interview last year she had actually felt she was always going to be “an out-of-work writer.” How wrong she turned out to be.

Collins’ books, including Hollywood Wives and its sequels and the Lucky Santangelo series that centered on the daughter of a mob boss, sold more than half a billion copies. Her latest, The Santangelos, came out this summer and in numerous interviews promoting the book Collins never mentioned her illness or treatments.

Survived by her sister, brother Bill and three children. Memorial services in the U.S. and U.K. will be private.