Dripping with sudsy melodrama, lurid sexcapades, dazzlingly beautiful, wealthy, and famous protagonists, the novels of Harold Robbins were a guilty pleasure experienced by at least 750 million readers over a 50-year period. Adding to the excitement of reading one of his unabashedly trashy novels was the author's claims that all of his characters were based on real people, including Howard Hughes, Marilyn Monroe, and Lana Turner. It is not surprising therefore, to learn that most of Robbins' 23 novels have been made into either feature films or television movies and miniseries.Born Frank Kane in New York City's Hell's Kitchen, Robbins dropped out of high school at age 15. He survived by working assorted little jobs. However, by age 20, his luck had dramatically changed and Robbins had become a commodities broker and a very rich man. By the time he was 23, Robbins had declared bankruptcy. In 1940, he started out with Universal Studios as a shipping clerk in New York. Six years later he had risen to a top executive position with the studio. In the 1950s, he and a friend made a 100-dollar bet about Robbins' writing and publishing a book. The result was Never Love a Stranger which was adapted into a film starring John Drew Barrymore and Steve McQueen in 1958. In the late '60s, Robbins had his name on a short-lived television series Harold Robbins' The Survivors. Robbins died of respiratory heart failure in Palm Springs, CA, on October 14, 1997. He was 81.