Dominick Dunne

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Dominick Dunne (born October 29, 1925 in Hartford , Connecticut , † August 26, 2009 in New York ) was an American journalist , author and film producer . He was best known for his court reports .


Dunne was one of six children in a wealthy family. His parents were Dorothy Frances Dunne, née Burns, and Richard Edwin Dunne, chief physician at a clinic and well-known cardiologist . One of his brothers was the writer John Gregory Dunne . After studying at Williams College , he served as a soldier in World War II.

After professional beginnings in television, he produced several films: 1970 The Boys in the Band ( The Boys in the Band ) from William Friedkin , 1971 The Panic in Needle Park by Jerry Schatzberg with Al Pacino , 1972 Play as it Lays of Frank Perry with Anthony Perkins and 1973 Ash Wednesday by Larry Peerce , with Elizabeth Taylor and Henry Fonda . An illness from alcoholism and drug abuse put an end to his career as a film producer.

A personal stroke of fate gave the impetus to his second professional career: In 1982, his 22-year-old daughter, the actress Dominique Dunne , was strangled by her lover. Tina Brown , then editor-in-chief at Vanity Fair , suggested that he report on the trial for the magazine. He wrote the report Justice: A Father's Account of the Trial of His Daughter's Killer (German: Justiz. Report of a father about the trial of his daughter's murderer ). The defendant was credited with extenuating circumstances; he got away with a relatively mild sentence of six and a half years in prison. If he hadn't had the opportunity to write about the trial, Dunne said, he would have gone mad.

He also processed the experiences of his daughter's death in the novel People Like Us , in which a father tries to kill his daughter's murderer and is convicted for it. Dunne's feeling that the trial of his daughter's death had been unfair motivated him to continue reporting on trials and to take sides with the victims in his reports. The Cambridge History of Law calls him one of the best reporters for famous crime cases and court cases involving celebrities. Dunne was also frequently seen on television as an expert on such processes. For the broadcaster Court TV he regularly presented the program Power, Privilege and Justice ( power, privileges and justice ).

Dunne reported on the trials of Claus von Bülow , the brothers Lyle and Erik Menendez , and the 1994 murder trial of OJ Simpson . In his report, he made no secret of his belief that Simpson was guilty. His 1994 book, A Season in Purgatory , helped reopen the charges for the killing of a 15-year-old girl against Michael Skakel , a nephew of Ethel Kennedy . Skakel was eventually convicted.

Dunne was himself a member of the high society that he reported so relentlessly. Although friends with the married couple Alfred and Betsy Bloomingdale , he used the story of the husband and his illegitimate lover in his novel An inconvenient Woman . The mistress had been the victim in a murder case. The novel became a bestseller. Because of his relentless reporting, Dunne has often been compared to Truman Capote .

His behavior also earned him a number of legal disputes over defamation, including a trial against the Californian member of the United States House of Representatives , Gary Condit , which he lost. In 2008, Dunne reported again on Simpson when Simpson was tried again for armed robbery. The sentence, 15 years in prison, came as no surprise to Dunne, in his own words.

Dunne died of cancer at the age of 83. Until recently he worked on his last book, Too Much Money , which was published in December 2009.

Dunne was married to Ellen Beatriz Griffin from 1954 to 1965. The marriage had five children, including the aforementioned actress Dominique Dunne and the actor and Oscar nominee Griffin Dunne . The other two children died just days after giving birth.

Works (selection)


  • Claudine Mulard: Dominick Dunne , Le Monde . September 2, 2009, page 25 (French)

Individual evidence

  1. a b Quotation from Le Monde , September 2, 2009, p. 25.
  2. Christopher Tomlins (ed.), Michael Grossberg (ed.): The Cambridge History of Law in America. Cambridge University Press 2008, ISBN 978-0521803045 .

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