Best Known For
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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A Season in Purgatory (1993), another bestseller that also became a TV movie, centers on the unsolved true-life murder of a teenage girl from an extremely wealthy community. Echoing Dunne's childhood and his experiences in Hollywood, the book features an outsider protagonist who is enough of an "insider" to the wealthy to observe their crimes.
When Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were brutally murdered in 1994, Dunne's career took yet another turn. When asked by Mary Murphy in TV Guide why he was granted a very visible seat in the courtroom, he replied "I was assigned that seat by Judge Ito. He put me next to the family of victim Ron Goldman because he said I would understand how to speak to them. It was very sensitive of Judge Ito. He never mentioned my daughter's death, but that's what he meant. I took a lot of heat for that seat....They called me Judith Krantz in pants." Despite his uncomfortable situation, Dunne was transformed into a national commentator and indeed a vital player in the media blitz surrounding the trial. Murphy said to Dunne: "A lingering image from the Simpson trial is you with your mouth hanging open after the verdict was read. Why were you so surprised?" To which Dunne replied: "When they read the verdict, it was like I had been punched in the stomach."
Perhaps it is this gut-level empathy with the real life people he writes about and the characters he creates that account for Dunne's stunning success. In a 1995 online interview on the Web site Mr. Showbiz, Dunne was asked what he intended to do now that the Simpson trial was over. He replied, "I am working on a book now. The title I have at this time—and that could easily change—is In the Aftermath. This title might just as well apply to Dunne's life so far, for it is in the aftermath of tragedy that he has found strength. And in his strength, he has found success. Has this success found him peace? It would appear so, for in the same online interview, Dunne confided that he gives thanks for "all the good things that have happened to me in the last few years."
In 1997 Dunne's "Simpsonography" was released under the title Another City, Not My Own. Dunne followed up with a collection of essays, Fatal Charms and Other Tales of Today and the Mansions of Limbo, and a memoir titled The Way We Lived Then: Recollection of a Well-Known Name Dropper (both 1999).
In August of 2009, Dunne passed away after a long battle with bladder cancer. He is survived by two sons, Alexander and Griffin. Griffin has acted in such films as An American Werewolf in London and After Hours.
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