Dominick_DunneDOMINICK DUNNE 1925-2009

We are sad to report the news that Dominick Dunne passed away today, 26th August, at the age of 83 at his home in New York City, after a long and brave battle with cancer. He was with his family at the time.

Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1925, Dominick Dunne grew up in a large, well-to-do Catholic family of six children. He was the second of six children and always had a passion for dance, theater, and Hollywood films.

Then out of his senior year at school, Dominick was called up for service in World War II, where he distinguished himself during the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium by running back towards the approaching Germans to rescue two injured soldiers. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his bravery.

On his return to the United States after the war he moved to New York and studied at Williams College. After graduating Dominick secured a position as floor manager for The Howdy Doody Showand later with Robert Montgomery Presents.

Dominick met and married Ellen Beatriz Griffin, who was known as Lenny. Together they moved from New York to Los Angeles when their first-born, Griffin, was a baby. Dominick rose through the ranks of television, becoming Vice-President of Twentieth Century Fox where produced the hit series, Adventures in Paradise.

He and Lenny spent their time socialising with the Hollywood stars of the time, including Natalie Wood, Michael Caine, Elizabeth Montgomery, Dennis Hopper, Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow. However, Dominick”s newfound success was taking a toll on his family life. He was sliding into a life of alcohol and drugs and was desperate to keep the appearance of the perfect family. His marriage ended in divorce in 1965.

The next decade saw a despondent Dominick fall from grace in Hollywood. The final nail in the coffin of his Hollywood dream was the making of the film Ash Wednesday, starring Elizabeth Taylor. Dominick was no longer welcome in Hollywood.

With his career in tatters, Dominick drove north, not stopping until he blew a car tyre in Oregon. Here he rented a small cottage in the Cascade Mountains and set about trying to reconstruct his life. While in Oregon, he began to write for the first time at the age of 50. He was commissioned to write The Winners, a sequel toThe Users, a novel about the secret life of Hollywood high-flyers. The novel was panned but Dominick was delighted simply to be reviewed by the New York Times. After six months in his Oregon cabin, Dominick resolved to move to New York and begin he new life as a writer. His next novel, The Two Mrs Grenvilles sold more than two million copies and refocused his career permanently toward writing.

However, tragedy struck in November of 1982. Dominick received a telephone call from Lenny, informing him that his only surviving daughter, Dominique, was on life support after an attack by her former boyfriend, John Sweeney. Dominick flew to Los Angeles immediately, but Dominique never regained consciousness. The experience of losing his daughter and the ensuing trial of her killer so enraged Dunne, it directed the course of the rest of his life.

Dunne’s reporting of the trial of Sweeney was his first published piece in Vanity Fair, in the March 1984 issue, and marked the beginning of a relationship between him and the magazine that lasted until his passing. He was both loved and reviled for his personal, chatty journalism style that truly went behind the scenes and reveled in its intimacy. He will be remembered for his coverage of the murder trials of O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake and Claus Von Bulow, among others.

Dominick also wrote several works of fiction, each one rapidly making its way to The New York Times best-seller lists. His last novel, Too Much Money, is due in stores this December.

He is survived by his sons Griffin and Alex Dunne, and his grand daughter, Hannah.

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(from dominickdunne.net)

Vanity Fair‘s Dominick Dunne archive

LA Times obit

Vanity Fair obit

NYTimes obit

AP obit

Tribute from Tina Brown at the Daily Beast

Jane Hitchcock at the Daily Beast

Preview of After the Party, a documentary about Dominick Dunne’s life

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