Jackie Collins kept the news that she had advanced cancer secret from her sister Joan for more than six years, she disclosed in her last interview.
he British writer kept details of her illness private from everyone except her daughters. Her older sister only found out in the past fortnight.
Joan Collins last night led tributes to her "beautiful, brave, baby sister" and praised the way that she had faced terminal breast cancer.
She said: "I admire how she handled this. She was a wonderful, brave and beautiful person and I love her."
Jackie (77) died in Los Angeles at the weekend, six and-a-half years after being diagnosed with stage-four cancer.
In what would prove to be her final interview, five days earlier, she said: "I did it my way, as Frank Sinatra would say. I've written five books since the diagnosis, I've lived my life, I've travelled all over the world, I have not turned down book tours and no one has ever known until now, when I feel as though I should come out with it."
Stars on both sides of the Atlantic paid tribute to the Beverly Hills novelist, whose raunchy tales of Hollywood lust, power and money redefined the "bonkbuster" genre.
Her 30-odd novels, including 'The World Is Full of Married Men', 'The Stud', 'The Bitch' and 'Hollywood Wives', proved wildly successful and sold 500 million copies. Many were made into films or television series.
Jilly Cooper said her friend's decision to keep her illness secret was "a mark of her splendour".
She said: "She was absolutely marvellous, she was lovely. She was a very, very good writer. She lived in Hollywood, knew what she was writing about and just unashamedly wrote about the high life and people loved it.
In a recent interview, Collins said she was no fan of the more recent blockbuster 'Fifty Shades of Grey' by EL James.
She said: "Good for her because she's sold a lot of books and has got people reading again, but people say to me: 'Your sex is much hotter' and I say, 'I know.' Sex should be fun and erotic." (© Daily Telegraph, London)