Biography of Judith Rossner
Judith Perelman Rossner (March 31, 1935 – August 9, 2005) was an American novelist, best known for her 1975 novel Looking for Mr. Goodbar, which was inspired by the murder of Roseann Quinn and examined the underside of the 1970s sexual liberation movement. Though Looking for Mr. Goodbar remained Rossner's best known and best selling work, she continued to write. Her most successful post-Goodbar novel was 1983's August, about the relationship between a troubled young woman and her psychoanalyst who has emotional troubles of her own.
Judith Perelman was born on March 31, 1935 in New York City. The daughter of a schoolteacher (who later killed herself) and an alcoholic textile worker, Perelman was raised in the Bronx and attended public schools.
She dropped out of the City College of New York (now the City University of New York) to marry Robert Rossner, a teacher and writer best known as a mystery novelist under the pen name Ivan T. Ross. The couple had two children, Daniel and Jean, and later divorced. Judith Rossner married twice more. She had no other children.
Judith Rossner did secretarial work in a real estate business to support herself. She also wrote short stories and unsuccessfully tried to sell them to women's magazines.
Rossner wrote her first novel, published years later as To The Precipice in 1966. Her initial books were not successful. Soon after leaving her first husband, she wrote Any Minute I Can Split (1972), about a pregnant woman who runs away to a commune. Esquire magazine asked Rossner to write a story. She suggested the real-life story of Roseann Quinn, a young schoolteacher who was brutally murdered by a man she reportedly met at a singles club. She wrote the story but said Esquire lawyers killed the article because they felt the story would affect the pending trial. Rossner then decided to write the novelized version, Looking for Mr. Goodbar.
The book brought her fame and wealth, allowing the forty-year-old to quit her day job and focus full time on writing. In 1977, Rossner published Attachments, a story about a pair of friends who marry conjoined twins. Attachments was followed by Emmeline, the story of a fourteen-year-old farm girl who gets a factory job to support her impoverished family. August, her most successful novel following 'Mr. Goodbar', was published in 1983 to critical acclaim. "Goodbar" became a successful, if controversial, Hollywood film in 1977 with Diane Keaton, William Atherton, Tuesday Weld, Richard Kiley and Richard Gere. The film was directed by noted director Richard Brooks, whose marriage to the actress Jean Simmons was said to have come unraveled in part due to his obsession with the themes of the film's story and characters.
Rossner became seriously ill with viral meningitis after August's publication. She consequently lost much of her memory and contracted diabetes. Rossner did not write for many years. She published His Little Women in 1990 to universal bad reviews. Olivia (1994) followed. Rossner published her last novel, Perfidia, in 1997.
Rossner died on August 9, 2005 at the age of seventy. She was survived by her third husband, Stanley Leff, her two children, and three grandchildren.