Thursday, August 27, 2009

RIP Dominick Dunne 1925-2009

Ahhhh...Dominick Dunne. What a great writer. What a great story of redemption.

Dominick was born into a family of privilege, but said he always felt like an outsider among the supremely wealthy. He worked in the heyday of television and hung out with the beautiful people of the sixties: John Gregory Dunne (married to writer Joan Didion) was his brother, Elizabeth Taylor, Truman Capote, the Reagans, Stephen Sondheim, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Grace Kelly, Steve McQueen.

Eventually years of partying caught up with Dominick and he faced up to his addictions to alcohol and cocaine. He'd lost his job, his wife, his friends. He left Hollywood in 1979, and holed up in a one-room cabin in rural Oregon. He sobered up there. And he wrote his first book there, The Winners.

About his wife, Lenny, he said, "She was the real thing, and I became a fake." Even after they divorced he remained devoted to her. Dominick was beside her all the way through her 25-year battle with multiple sclerosis in 1972, until her death in 1997. After she died, he said their divorce was his greatest regret and that Lenny was his one true love.

After Oregon, Dunne moved back to New York. His second career as a writer was lucrative. He wrote for Vanity Fair...first a chronicle of the murder trial of the man who killed his daughter Dominique. Later, articles on the OJ Simpson trial, Claus Von Bulow trials, the Menendez brothers, Phil Spector, William Kennedy Smith, and Ethel Kennedy's nephew Michael Skakel.

And (those of you who know me know how I love an impeccably dressed gentleman) he was a natty dresser: french cuffs, gold cufflinks, dark jackets, gray flannel slacks, starched shirts with club ties. He used a fountain pen.

Last spring he summed up his life, "I enjoyed every second."

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