January 16, 2004 by

Olivia Goldsmith


Categories: Writers/Editors

Olivia Goldsmith, the best-selling author of “The First Wives Club,” died on Jan. 15 from complications related to anesthesia. She was 54.
Born Randy Goldfield, she attended New York University and entered the management consulting field, where she became one of the first partners at the firm Booz Allen Hamilton. She then divorced her husband, moved to London, changed her legal name to Justine Rendal and decided to try her hand at writing.
Under the pseudonym Olivia Goldsmith, she contributed articles to The New York Times and Cosmopolitan, among other publications. She also published half a dozen books, including “Flavor of the Month,” “The Bestseller” and “Bad Boy.” But Goldsmith was best known for her 1992 debut, “The First Wives Club,” the story of first wives who seek revenge after being dumped by their husbands for younger women. It was adapted for the screen in 1996 and became a box office hit starring Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton. Goldsmith recently completed two new novels: “Casting Off” and “Dumping Billy,” the latter of which will be published in May.
On Jan. 7, Goldsmith checked into Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital for elective, plastic surgery. As the anesthesia took effect, she had a heart attack. Doctors were unable to get enough oxygen into her system and she fell into a coma. Goldsmith was then transferred to Lenox Hill Hospital, where she died.

40 Responses to Olivia Goldsmith

  1. Cathy

    I have to read every book and look forward to every new book by a handful of authors and Olivia Goldsmith is one of those authors. Every time I finished one of her books I would think “that was a great read!” I’ll reread her past books but I’ll miss looking forward to and reading new ones.

  2. chris hansen

    I will miss your outrageously witty books, Olivia. Wish you could write one more book about your new home (heaven). Thanks for all the laughs.

  3. karen g

    about 10 years ago, i had just read “flavour of the month” by olivia goldsmith. i enjoyed the book so much, i decided to write the author a letter. to my surprise she wrote back, in her own handwriting ( a real letter). in the letter she thanked me for my support and told me that her next novel had been picked up for a movie starring goldie hawn! sure enough, about 9 months later the movie came out! i wish i still had the letter, because i would post it. she will be missed. i read all her stuff.

  4. Louis Donadio

    I had read the article in USA today about Olivia Goldsmith and although I didn’t read any of her books I felt very sad at her losing her life; she just seemed like a real nice person.

  5. Millie

    Olivia Goldsmith, known to me as Justine Rendal, was the best person I have ever had occasion to know. She did all she loved. Wrote what she loved, taught what she loved, stood for all she believed in. She was the first and only person in my life that I have ever trusted, a part of my messed up childhood from age 7 to 16. I am who I am today because of her influence, an aspiring writer myself. We will all miss her wit and humor, but I will also miss her heart.

  6. DeeBee

    To those who are saddened over the fact that they will not be able to read Olivia’s books anymore, don’t worry. You will. She had a ghost writer. She wrote little if any of her books.

  7. Karen Ulrich

    I love her books!! I have read every one of them. She is a fantastic storyteller. I will very much miss her writing. I am looking forward to reading Dumping Billy and Casting Off. I am so sorry for this tragedy. Is it true about the ghostwriter?

  8. Jillian Stanley

    I read The Bestseller about a year ago and it immediately went on my mental list of Favorite Novels. It’s really wonderful. What a sad reason to die–fear of looking older…

  9. Nikki Giovanni Hunt

    I love and appreciated all of her novels. I didnt know much about her until First Wives Club and I had to know who wrote that story. I read the book, which was even better than the movie and grew to love her work. I went into the bookstore and they are selling out of her books everywhere and I didnt know why. Then I hear about her death. I am extremely sad about this. She was my personal favorite and I will miss her humor and wit. I now own every publication and will be on the list for the new ones.

  10. Sue

    I just came across the news of her death and am totally blown away! She’s one of my top five favorites. What a loss to us all. I’m looking forward to her new books, I’ll savor every word knowing they’re her last.

  11. Toni

    This has been really shocking news to me. I only read 3 books of hers and they were all when I was in prison. Ms Goldsmith’s books kept me going and so wanted to be like her. I will miss her so so much. I look forward to reading her latest books.

  12. debra dampier

    I am in shock! I just finished reading Bad Boy, and I was so excited to see what else I hadn’t read. This is terrible news. Absolutely terrible.

  13. Hail

    I loved Dumping Billy and I thought the name sounded familiar. This is when I looked on the back cover of the book and saw her picture. I knew who it was then. I was sad too. She was an amazing author.

  14. jackie

    why doesnt anyone commment on the fact that she died during a procedure to “improve” herself. she would be alive today had she been adequately satisfied with herself. we are so confused in the west about the purpose of our bodies. we are led to believe that aging is a disease, signs of child birth are unsightly and that we have to confrom to a certain ideal. funny how the ideal keeps changing. only recently came out J-Lo to alter our view of the perfect butt. the body has other purposes other than aesthetic ones and the sooner we realise this the happier we will all be.

  15. Glenna Bushe

    I was blown away by Ms. Goldsmith’s death. What a wonderful writer. I am looking forward to reading all of her books. To all the divine women and men out there. We are beautiful and we should not let society define who we are. I believe in looking my best for me. Is it for me or because society has conditioned us to feel worthless. I am 51 years old and believe that I am the greatest things since white bread.

  16. Regina

    I have only read one of Olivia Goldsmith’s books “Bestseller” but I have read it 3 times and have enjoyed it immensley. I learnt with sadness about her death and will try to read all her books.

  17. teresa mitchell

    i was so saddened to hear of her death. i love her work and its only a shame that she wasn’t happy enough with her life to live it as she was naturally.
    it just proves to us that even the rich and famous aren’t excempt from lifes tragedys.
    olivia goldsmith rest in peace, we love you.

  18. Yvonne

    Did anyone else read Marring Mom, what a cute happy and revealing tale about siblings. Now I will try and find and read her stories that I missed. She will be missed.

  19. Liz

    I loved all of Olivia Goldsmith’s books, but my favorite was Pen-Pals. She wrote so well, with so much emotion and insight, that she inevitably became one of my favorite authors. I looked forward to her books like an addict would to chocolate. Olivia Goldsmith was a wonderful writer, and I’m sure she was an equally wonderful person. May she rest in peace.

  20. Nina Ariana

    I first got to know of Olivia Goldsmith after reading “The Bestseller”. I enjoyed it immensely & have been looking for her books ever since! I’ve read all of her books & they always leave me looking forward to more. Her witty & original characters made me laugh & they made me cry. I’ll miss reading Olivia’s book but if the thing about the ghost-writer is true……i guess all is not lost!

  21. Vishwanee

    I just read about the death of this talented writer. I am very much shocked abt this. I love Olivia Goldsmith’s novels. I became addicted to them and they give such a boost and lord I laughed out of my head reading them. I am so sad she is no longer with us.

  22. Debbie

    Wow! I just finished reading Pen Pals. What a great book! Couldn’t wait to get my hands on some more of her writings. I had some old People magazines laying around and noticed what I thought looked like Olivia Goldsmith’s picture on the front. I had just been looking at it inside the jacket of my book. Oh my God! She died! And for such a reason as plastic surgury. This is outta control now. What a shame and a waste. A very lovely and talented women felt she wasn’t good enough just the way she was. Wake up people. I will miss her forever. Hopefully, we will meet again someday in Heaven.

  23. Iris Tang

    Just completed reading Switcheroo, which I’ve enjoyed so much, was trying to learn more about Ms Olivia Goldsmith but instead found that she’s dead.
    Was shock and sadden that readers like me has
    lost a wonderful writer! But still am happy that
    I’ve the chance to read her books that brings much humour into our life!

  24. Lorenna Miliani

    Sometimes, I twinge at the irony of her death. Her novels were long, but such a quick read. It’s sad to lose a feminine with so much rage and a voice for women’s rights.

  25. jaime herman

    As a woman of a certain age, like Olivia/aka Randy/aka Justine, I was horrified to learn that this witty and insightful woman died having what should have been a routine cosmetic surgery procedure. Does anyone have more details about what went wrong?

  26. Nyanku I. Bojang

    I must say that I’m a rather new to olivia’s work and was moved by her penmanship. Her book ‘Insiders’definitely had the flavour I love in fictional novels. Although, her death at a rather young age was tragic and so sudden, her work is very inspirational, especially for those who know how much injustice women all the world are facing in their everyday life in the quest to have equal system of things. She is a huge loss to the literary world.

  27. rayna rothblut

    I have heard the name Randy Goldfield for a long time. My father and her were first cousins. I just started reading her books and very much enjoy them. Please if there is anyone out there who can put me in touch with her sisters I would greatly appreciate it.

  28. Tim Weisse

    Randy and I were friends in HS. Surprisingly I new little of her great success in life until after her tragic death. Such a sad story.

  29. Rochelle

    I feel so bad, I was doing a search for authors “like” Olivia Goldsmith. Her books have been so refreshingly unfunny….”laugh out loud” funny! How very, very sad!
    Olivia, you have brought many laughs my way, and I Thank You for all of them!
    “Marrying Mom” is just hysterical, I would like to read again some day. I just finished “Switcheroo”….another “laugh out loud” book (I needed something funny while my husband has been in the hospital). I would tell him what was going on in the book, since he saw me laughing while reading. I’ve also enjoyed “Flavour of The Month.” I now have to make sure I read all the rest.
    Olivia, may you rest in peace. I am so sorry I just reaized you are no longer with us here on earth. I am sure you are making them laugh “Up There!”

  30. Yvette fox

    May you rest in peace!
    i was a beauty therapist in London when i treated Olivia; she made me laugh so much throughout the 3hrs we spent that i will always remember her. The very next day she had the Insiders books she was promoting then delivered to me with a dedication of “Thanks for the good care i have taken of her”
    Just sorry i caught up with this news today.

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