Dominick (Nicky) Dunne was born in Hartford Connecticut on October 29, 1925. He haled from a wealthy Irish Catholic Family. Dominick was the second of six children. His mother was Dorothy Francis Dunne and his father was surgeon and hospital chief of staff, Dr. Richard Edwin Dunne.
Dominick states that he always felt like an outsider in his own family. He was more interested in the arts and the glamour of Hollywood than in sports and other more masculine pursuits. His father did not understand this and was verbally and physically abusive towards Dominick.
Dominick enlisted in the U.S. Army and fought in World War II, bringing home the Bronze Star for his bravery in action. He was only 19. When Dominick came back from the war, he went back to school in Massachusetts, attending Williams College where he earned his bachelors degree in 1949.
In 1954 Dominick met actor/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 schooled 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 plays. The Dunnes moved to Hollywood in 1957 where Dominick was vice-president of a film studio for several years. He went on to produce movies on his own.
Dominick and Lenny met, mingled and partied with the hoi poloi of the Hollywood scene. The Dunne’s were well known for the elaborate parties they threw and the parties they attended.
Eventually things got out of hand with the drugs and alcohol. In a Time interview in 1999, 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 years old, broke, drunk, drugged, and went to a cabin in Oregon to get my life back in order.”
The result of this self-imposed isolation was a novel, “The Winners.” Dominick continued writing the rest of his life. Asked if writing came easy to him, he said that while writing did not come easy to him, he wouldn’t call it a struggle, either. He says it is important to write every day.
Dominick became a contributing editor at 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 a victim’s rights advocate and started the “Justice for Homicide Victims” organization. Lenny was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1975 and died in 1997.
Dominick followed and wrote about many celebrity trials. Some of the more prominent ones being both OJ Simpson and the Menendez brothers trials. He also became the host and contributor for truTV’s, “Power, Privilege and Justice.” Dominick didn’t have any pity for those he said, “Had the best justice that money could buy.”
The Cambridge History of Law in America states…”Dominick filled the niche with panache, becoming one of the nation’s premier popular chroniclers of notorious criminal trials and lawsuits involving celebrities.”
Dominick Dunne died of bladder cancer at his home in Manhattan 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 My Own: A Novel in the Form of a Memoir (1997)
Too Much money (2009)
Dominic Dunne: Three Complete Novels (1994)
Collections: The Mansions of Limbo (1991)
Fatal Charms: And Other Tales of Today (1987)
The Way We Lived Then: The Recollections of a Well-known Name Dropper (1999)
Justice: Crimes, Trials, and Punishments (2001)