Other Notable Deaths

OTHER NOTABLE DEATHS

August 27, 2009

DOMINICK DUNNE, 83

Crime writer

Author Dominick Dunne, who told stories of shocking crimes among the rich and famous through his magazine articles and best-selling novels such as "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles," died Wednesday in his Manhattan home.

Mr. Dunne's son, actor-director Griffin Dunne, said in a statement released by Vanity Fair magazine that his father had been battling bladder cancer.

In September 2008, against the orders of his doctor and the wishes of his family, Mr. Dunne flew to Las Vegas to attend the kidnap-robbery trial of O.J. Simpson, a postscript to his coverage of Simpson's 1995 murder trial, which spiked Mr. Dunne's considerable fame.

Mr. Dunne discontinued his column at Vanity Fair to concentrate on finishing another novel, "Too Much Money," which is to come out in December. He also made a number of appearances to promote a documentary film about his life, "After the Party," which was being released on DVD.

Mr. Dunne was beginning to write his memoirs and, until close to the end of his life, he posted messages on his Web site commenting on events in his life and thanking his fans for their support.

Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter praised Mr. Dunne as a gifted reporter who proved as fascinating as the people he wrote about.

"Anyone who remembers the sight of O.J. Simpson trying on the famous glove probably remembers a bespectacled Dunne, resplendent in his trademark Turnbull & Asser monogrammed shirt, on the court bench behind him," Mr. Carter wrote in a statement released Wednesday. "It is fair to say that the halls of Vanity Fair will be lonelier without him and that, indeed, we will not see his like anytime soon, if ever again."

Mr. Dunne was part of a famous family that also included his brother, novelist and screenwriter John Gregory Dunne; his brother's wife, author Joan Didion; and his son.

A one-time movie producer, Mr. Dunne carved a new career starting in the 1980s as a chronicler of the problems of the wealthy and powerful.

Tragedy struck Mr. Dunne's life in 1982 when his actress daughter, Dominique, was slain - and that experience informed his fiction and his journalistic efforts from then on.

"If you go through what I went through, losing my daughter, you have strong, strong feelings of revenge," Mr. Dunne said in 1990 in discussing his novel "People Like Us," in which the protagonist shoots the man convicted of killing his daughter.

"As a novelist, I could create a situation in which I could do in the book what I couldn't do in real life. I intended for Gus [the character in the book] to kill the guy. But when I got to that part I couldn't write it. He wounds him and goes to prison himself for a couple of years."

He was as successful as a journalist as he was as a novelist and spent many of his later years in courtrooms covering high-profile trials. Writing for Vanity Fair, he covered such cases as the William Kennedy Smith rape trial in 1991 and the trial of Erik and Lyle Menendez, accused of murdering their millionaire parents, in 1993.

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