Dominick Dunne an American writer and investigative journalist who covered stories on the powerful, rich, and famous. Dominick Dunne was born on October 29, 1925 in Hartford, Connecticut into a wealthy Irish family. He is the second of six children and the son of Dorothy Frances and Richard Edwin Dunne who was a successful heart surgeon. Dunne went to serve in the army during World War II. After Dunne graduated from Williams College in 1949, he moved to New York and became a stage manager of Playhouse 90. In 1954, he married his first wife Ellen Griffin.
In his earlier years, he was a socialite who hobnobbed with the rich and famous. Sean Elder wrote a review about the experience at one of Dunne’s parties. “In the midst of it all there was one man who was getting the full cheese. One guy everyone gravitated toward and paid obeisance to. That individual was Dunne, who mixed easily with artist, actors and writers present at the function.” Dunne made frequent television appearances and then later became a movie producer in Hollywood. His credits include films such as “The Boys in the Band,” “Panic in Needle Park,” and “Ash Wednesday” starred Elizabeth Taylor. In 1979, Dunne wrote his first book “The Winners.” His best-selling novels included “The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1985)” and “An Inconvenient Woman (1990).” Both novels about murders in the upper class society.
Dunne’s children are actors Griffin Dunne and Dominique Dunne, Dunne’s two other daughters died in infancy. In November 1982, his daughter Dominique Dunne 22 years old, best known in her role in the movie “Poltergeist” was murdered by her ex-boyfriend John Thomas Sweeney. Dunne attended the trial and Sweeney was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and a misdemeanor for an earlier assault, he served less than three years. Dunne wrote the article or more like a journal called Justice: A Father’s Account of the Trial of his Daughter’s Killer for Vanity Fair in 1984. Dunne became a regular writer for Vanity Fair.” I realized the power writing has, and it has also helped me deal with my rage, it gave me a lifelong commitment not to be afraid to speak out about injustice” Dunne said in an interview with the New York Times.
Dunne spent most of his remaining life writing crime novels about wealthy people who have the money, fame, and power to get privileged justice that ordinary people don’t get the benefit of. He hosted in his own TV series Dominick Dunne’s Power, Privilege, and Justice that was aired on CourtTV and then went onto truTV, based on the real life crimes committed by the wealthy. As well as famous celebrity trials that included O.J. Simpson, Claus Von Bulow, Michael Skakel, William Kennedy Smith, the Menendez brothers and Phil Spector. Not to mention the California congressmen Gary Condit scandal which Condit filed a lawsuit against Dunne for misrepresentation.
On August 26, 2009, Dunne died at his home in Manhattan from bladder cancer at the age of 83. The November 2009 issues of Vanity Fair magazine paid tribute to Dunne’s contributions to the magazine. In the documentary Dominick Dunne: After the Party, the film documents Dunne’s success as a top selling author and reporter in Hollywood. The film also reflects on his past life of an unhappy childhood of abuse, his service during World War II, a family man, his socialite status, and as a Hollywood producer and writer. “He made no secret of the fact that his sympathy generally lay with the victim, and he was vocal about what he considered the misapplication of justice” says Enid Nemy of The New York Times.
1. Elder, Sean. A Dunne Deal. October 13, 1999. Salon.com
2. Nemy, Enid. Dominick Dunne, Writer Who Chronicled High-Profile Crime, Is Dead at 83. August 26, 2009. The New York Times.