Dominick (Nicky) Dunne was born in Hartford, Connecticut, on October 29, 1925. He came from a wealthy Irish Catholic family. Dominick was the second of six children. His mother was Dorothy Francis Dunne and his father was a surgeon and hospital chief of staff, Dr. Richard Edwin Dunne.
Dominick says that he always felt like an outsider in his own family. He was more interested in the arts and glamor of Hollywood than sports and other more masculine pursuits. His father did not understand this and verbally and physically abused Dominick.
Dominick enlisted in the US Army and fought in World War II, taking home the Bronze Star for bravery in action. He was only 19 years old. When Dominick returned from the war, he went back to school in Massachusetts and attended Williams College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1949.
In 1954, Dominick met actress and heiress Ellen Beatriz Griffin, known as Lenny, and married her six weeks later. They had three children, Griffin, Alexander and Dominique. The children were raised and educated in wealth and privilege. Although Dominick and Lenny divorced in 1965, they remained close.
In New York in 1957, Dominick began his career as a stage manager for The Howdy Doody Show and other live television productions. The Dunnes moved to Hollywood in 1957, where Dominick was vice president of a movie studio for several years. He then went on to produce movies on his own.
Dominick and Lenny met, mingled and had fun with the hoi poloi of the Hollywood scene. The Dunnes were well known for the elaborate parties they threw and the parties they attended.
Things eventually got out of hand with drugs and alcohol. In a 1999 Time interview, Dominick stated, “When I had my fall from grace and lost everything, including my marriage, my home, my career, everything, I left Hollywood at 50, broke, drunk, high, and went to a cabin in Oregon to get my life in order.
The result of this self-imposed isolation was a novel, “The Winners.” Dominick continued to write for the rest of his life. When asked if writing was easy for him, he said that while writing wasn’t easy for him, he wouldn’t call it a struggle either. He says that it is important to write every day.
Dominick became a contributing editor for Vanity Fair in 1984. One of his first assignments was to cover the trial of John Sweeney, the man who murdered his only daughter, Dominique, the year before.
Dominique’s mother, Lenny, became an advocate for victims’ rights and founded the organization “Justice for Homicide Victims”. Lenny was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1975 and died in 1997.
Dominick followed and wrote about many celebrity trials. Some of the most prominent are the trials of OJ Simpson and the Menendez brothers. He also became a host and contributor to truTV’s “Power, Privilege and Justice.” Dominick had no mercy for which he said, “He had the best justice money could buy.”
The Cambridge History of American Law says… “Dominick filled the niche in style, becoming one of the nation’s leading popular chroniclers of high-profile criminal trials and lawsuits involving celebrities.”
Dominick Dunne died of bladder cancer at his Manhattan home on August 26, 2009, at the age of 83. At the time, he was working on his latest novel, “Too Much Money.”
Books by Dominic Dunne:
The Winners (1982)
The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1985)
People Like Us (1988)
An Inconvenient Woman (1990)
A Season in Purgatory (1993)
Another City Not Mine: A Novel in the Form of Memoirs (1997)
Too Much Money (2009)
Dominic Dunne: Three Complete Novels (1994)
Collections: The Mansions of Limbo (1991)
Fatal Enchantments: And Other Tales of Today (1987)
The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Known Dropper (1999)
Justice: Crimes, Trials and Punishments (2001)