Dominick John Dunne, Writer & investigative journalist, Died at 84

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Dead, Dominick John Dunne on August 26, 2009 at the age of 84, he was an American writer and investigative journalist whose subjects frequently hinged on the ways in which high society interacts with the judicial system.

Born in Hartford, Connecticut on October 29, 1925 the son of Dorothy Frances (née Burns) and Richard Edwin Dunne, a hospital chief of staff and prominent heart surgeon.

His Irish Catholic family was wealthy; his maternal grandfather, Dominick Francis Burns, founded the Park Street Trust Company. In November 1982, his daughter, Dominique Dunne, best known for her part in the film Poltergeist, was murdered.

Dominick Dunne attended the trial of John Thomas Sweeney, who was convicted of voluntary manslaughter.

According to Dunne’s account in Justice, Sweeney was sentenced to six-and-a-half years, but served only two and a half after his conviction.

Dominick Dunne was the brother of author John Gregory Dunne; the writer Joan Didion was his sister-in-law.

He was married to Ellen Beatriz Griffin (1954–1965). He was the father of Alexander Dunne and the actors Griffin Dunne and Dominique Dunne, as well as two daughters who died in infancy.

In 2005, California Congressman Gary Condit won an undisclosed amount of money and an apology from Dunne, who had earlier implicated him in the disappearance of Chandra Levy, an intern from his U.S. House of Representatives district, with whom Condit had been carrying on an extramarital affair.

In November 2006, he was sued again by Condit for comments made about the former politician on Larry King Live on CNN, but the suit was eventually dismissed.

Dunne went on to write for Vanity Fair regularly, and fictionalized several real-life events, such as the murders of Alfred Bloomingdale’s mistress Vicki Morgan and banking heir William Woodward, Jr., in several best-selling books.

He eventually hosted the TV series Dominick Dunne’s Power, Privilege, and Justice on CourtTV (later truTV), in which he discussed justice and injustice and their intersection with celebrities.

Famous trials he covered included those of O.J. Simpson, Claus von Bulow, Michael Skakel, William Kennedy Smith, and the Menendez brothers.

Dunne’s account of the Menendez trial, “Nightmare on Elm Drive,” was selected by The Library of America for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American true crime writing, published in 2008.

In September 2008, Dunne disclosed that he was being treated for bladder cancer.

He was working on Too Much Money, his final book, at the time of his death. On September 22, 2008, Dunne complained of intense pain, and was taken by ambulance to Valley Hospital.

Dunne died on August 26, 2009, at his home in Manhattan and was buried at Cove Cemetery in the shadow of Gillette Castle in Hadlyme, Connecticut.


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