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Dominick Dunne 1925-2009
August 27, 2009 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Dominick Dunne died yesterday at the age of 83. was well known for his chronicling of the follies and crimes of the rich. You can read some of his pieces from Vanity Fair here.
posted by reenum (26 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dominick Dunne was one of the main reasons I eagerly awaited each new issue of Vanity Fair in my mailbox. His weirdly self-referential take on various trials and celebrity scandals was always fun and insightful. Nobody could name-drop with the same welcoming charm that he could. And his first-hand accounts of the socialite circus that surrounds high profile trials gave an almost voyeuristic glimpse into a world I would never see otherwise. I'm going to miss hearing about who he had breakfast with and who they talked about. He would have written a hell of a piece about Teddy Kennedy and their mutual friends.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:02 AM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I always read him first in VF. With his column notably absent in reacent months, I feared the worst.

(Class move on the part of the NYT there, interrupting the jump to page two of an obituary already choked with advertising to ask one to fill out "a brief survey." Not really the time, guys.)
posted by longsleeves at 10:10 AM on August 27, 2009


I know him more from his film credits, especially "Power, Privilege & Justice," a true crime tv show. I never knew of his literary background.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:12 AM on August 27, 2009


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posted by everichon at 10:16 AM on August 27, 2009


He was an entertaining writer, but dropping his poor murdered daughter into nearly every essay (so it seemed) was really unseemly, in my view.
posted by orrnyereg at 10:20 AM on August 27, 2009


His OJ book is, bizarrely, one of the best.
posted by box at 10:21 AM on August 27, 2009


I loved watching "Power, Privilege & Justice" and really enjoyed many of his essays.

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posted by strixus at 10:25 AM on August 27, 2009


After his daughter, actress, Dominique Dunne, was murdered in 1982 Dominick Dunne attended the trial of her murderer and wrote the article "Justice: A Father's Account of the Trial of his Daughter's Killer" for Vanity Fair. Thus started his interest/career in writing about crimes and trials for VF, as well as penning other articles and books.
posted by ericb at 10:26 AM on August 27, 2009


He was an entertaining writer, but dropping his poor murdered daughter into nearly every essay (so it seemed) was really unseemly, in my view.
posted by orrnyereg at 10:20 AM on August 27 [+] [!]


Writing about a personal tragedy, no matter how often or how seemingly unseemly, is often a great form of catharsis. The litany of references to it probably had very little to do with us, the reader... which in this case I find to be wholly acceptable.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 10:35 AM on August 27, 2009


I really liked Dominick Dunne. He lived in the same building as a friend of mine in Manhattan and I saw him several times, always impeccably dressed, sharp as a tack. At one reading he did at a Barnes & Noble several years ago, he told a story about how he was on the set of Cleopatra in Rome in the early 1960s (the all-time biggest deal in Hollywood up to that point, like Star Wars and Titanic and Lord of the Rings all rolled into one) and he and Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor took a few days off and drove over to the Amalfi coast and just lounged around watching the sea, drinking champagne, etc., and the whole time, instead of being blissed out and satisfied and content, he was miserable. "I just kept thinking, 'This isn't it. This isn't it. This isn't it,'" he said. Somehow I find that refreshing and inspiring.

Rest in peace.

.
posted by mattbucher at 10:37 AM on August 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


funny that the family tried to hold the news for a day so it wouldn't get ignored because of ted kennedy.
posted by krautland at 10:46 AM on August 27, 2009


I also liked Dominick Dunne. He was the ultimate name dropper but in a good way.
posted by gfrobe at 10:54 AM on August 27, 2009


New York Social Diary's obit.

He hobnobbed daily over the last couple of decades with the rich, corrupt and powerful, went to their parties, events, ate their haute cuisine, surrounded by haute couture, in living rooms decorated with million dollar paintings, then exposed/betrayed them in his tell-all books, shows and Vanity Fair articles about malignant narcissists.

I've wondered how that relationship worked.
posted by nickyskye at 10:55 AM on August 27, 2009


dropping his poor murdered daughter into nearly every essay (so it seemed) was really unseemly, in my view.

I expect he couldn't even go a few hours, without thinking about her.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 11:01 AM on August 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


His son was on Leverage last night, guest starring with a certain Mister Wil Wheaton.

Not sure what this has to do with his father's passing, though. Guess I'm just trying to crowd out all that trivia you learned about lakes and rivers in 3rd grade.

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posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:14 AM on August 27, 2009


ba-ba-booey
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 11:17 AM on August 27, 2009


Man, am I the only person who couldn't stand his writing? I would always accidentally read his columns in Vanity Fair (because who reads those bylines/blurbs in the magazine anyway), and 3 paragraphs in, I'd be thoroughly exasperated. His love of money and celebrity super irked me. They way he doggedly paid attention to cases involving a few people in some rarefied strata that really had no relevance to anyone, and his breathless way of writing about it, like it was so cool that he was invited to the party was ridiculous. He's a good writer, and his dogged attention paid to some other subject, or the same subject without the wannabe attitude could have been great. Maybe I'm just not that interested in celebrity to cotton on to him (although I do seem to really like celebrity blogs).

That being said, he did lead an extremely interesting life, and I should be lucky to have half so varied a career.
posted by bluefly at 11:55 AM on August 27, 2009


He hobnobbed daily over the last couple of decades with the rich, corrupt and powerful, went to their parties, events, ate their haute cuisine, surrounded by haute couture, in living rooms decorated with million dollar paintings, then exposed/betrayed them in his tell-all books, shows and Vanity Fair articles about malignant narcissists.

Same as Truman Capote, until he sold four chapters of his unfinished novel "Answered Prayers" to Esquire. He pissed off many of the rich and famous who recogzined their thinly-disguised counterparts in the resulting article ("Answered Prayers, Unspoiled Monsters"). Capote was subsequently ostracized, fell into depression and his alcoholism and eventually died at the home of one of his few remaining friends, Joanna Carson.
posted by ericb at 12:05 PM on August 27, 2009


There's something that Dunne wrote during the Clinton impeachment that isn't in that VF archive, but I'm 99% sure that Dunne wrote it; he was talking about how his sympathies switched from in favor of Clinton to against him when he picked up some snippet about the possibility that a droplet or two of Slick Willie's jizz may have escaped the attentions of his intern and landed on the Oval Office carpet, and ZOMGWTFBBQ the desecration of that shrine of democracy and so forth. I thought, sheesh, Dunne, knowing what we know about JFK, I think that every President that takes that office must have all the furniture deep-cleaned and the carpet replaced before they occupy it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:13 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


funny that the family tried to hold the news for a day so it wouldn't get ignored because of ted kennedy.

krautland,

I like to think Dunne might have approved -mordantly - of a celebrity traffic jam at his exit!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:23 PM on August 27, 2009


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posted by Coyote at the Dog Show at 3:37 PM on August 27, 2009


Reading on Wikipedia about Dunne & the Skakel/Moxley case led me to the Atlantic article written by RFK jr. That tells me there's a possible miscarriage of justice gotten up by a man - Dominick Dunne - who had an over weaning ego and a penchant for vengeance, a deep deep chip on his shoulder & utter prejudice against the wealthy that he observed.

Might be worth a read for those who haven't seen the other side.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:33 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


(News to me dash-slot, many thanks)
posted by IndigoJones at 5:12 PM on August 27, 2009


Capote was subsequently ostracized

That's my point. Yes, Capote was ostracized but Dunne was not ostracized and I don't understand why not. Capote gossiped, betrayed confidences but did not expose homicides and deep, often criminal dysfunction of the social crowd he hung out with.
posted by nickyskye at 5:45 PM on August 27, 2009


> There's something that Dunne wrote during the Clinton impeachment ... his sympathies switched ... when he picked up some snippet about the possibility ... droplet or two of Slick Willie's jizz may have ... landed on the Oval Office carpet ... sheesh, ... I think that every President that takes that office must have all the furniture deep-cleaned and the carpet replaced before they occupy it.
--
From Wikipedia: In recent years most administrations have created their own rug working with an interior designer and the Curator of the White House.
--
You may be on to something, Halloween Jack!
posted by xorry at 7:04 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


First I'd heard of Dunne. His account of his daughter's murder and subsequent trial of the killer are engrossing to the max.
posted by telstar at 10:50 PM on August 27, 2009


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