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Novelist and journalist Dominick Dunne wrote fiction and nonfiction about the rich, famous, and corrupt. He covered the O. J. Simpson trial for Vanity Fair.
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Dunne then turned to other drugs, later confessing to Van Biema: "I smoked marijuana a bit. Did I have blackouts? Yes, I did." It wasn't until 1973 that Dunne realized the depth of his problems and took a self- prescribed sabbatical from Hollywood. He headed to Oregon for a week of sobriety, quiet,
and a new beginning.
Dunne stayed in Oregon for six months. During this time he overcame his alcoholism and began his writing career. He'd been assigned to pen a sequel to Joyce Haber's The Users and in Oregon, the process began. He flourished in his cabin without a phone or TV and might have stayed there forever, if not for the news from home that his youngest brother had committed suicide. Returning to California, Dunne realized that he no longer needed his puritan cabin to stay on track, sold his belongings, and moved to New York City. Now living in Manhattan with his successful actor son Griffin, Dunne completed the regretfully titled The Winners: Part Two of Joyce Haber's The Users. Though he was not entirely happy with the end result, Dunne was not unhappy with his first writing attempt. He told Dahlin, "I got a nice advance, and I got a book published. I'm not knocking anything."
Dunne penned his first original novel five years later. Titled The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1985), the novel was loosely based on the true story of a controversial society killing in which a former showgirl shoots her wealthy husband. The book became a bestseller and a TV movie. Success also attended Dunne's second novel, People Like Us, in which he again zeroed in on the lives of rich individuals with dark secrets. Clearly, he had finally found his niche in writing.
In subsequent years, tragedy befell the Dunne family several times. Dunne's ex-wife Lenny, to whom he remained close, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. On Halloween of 1982, Dunne was informed that his actress daughter Dominique (best known for her portrayal of the teenage daughter in Poltergeist) had been found strangled; her killer was her ex-boyfriend, John Sweeney, a chef in Los Angeles.
Ironically, out of this father's nightmare grew Dunne's career as a journalist. His fixation on the injustice of the murderer's trial (Sweeney only received a conviction of voluntary manslaughter and was eligible for parole within two-and-a-half years), combined with the support of editor Tina Brown, led him to write a story for Vanity Fair called "Justice: A Father's Account of the Trial of His Daughter's Killer." Dunne subsequently covered many major trials for Vanity Fair. According to Clarke, "in terms of dollars per word, Dunne became almost certainly the highest-paid magazine writer in America."
Dunne has continued writing both magazine articles and novels that draw upon real-life events. The protagonist of his best selling novel An Inconvenient Woman (1990) bears a striking resemblance to Vicki Morgan, purportedly the mistress of a close friend of Ronald Reagan who was murdered.
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