Dominick Dunne, chronicler of crime, celebrity, and the intersection of the two, has died at 83. Dunne had been suffering from bladder cancer.
He was diagnosed last year, and his decline was sudden and largely unexpected, though Liz Smith reported on his condition just yesterday.
It was a long and fascinating life. Dunne was a World War II vet. He was a TV director and film producer. He was one of the druggiest of the '70s Hollywood druggies until he cleaned up at age 50. He was a television star. When his daughter Dominique was murdered in 1982, he became a journalist.
Dunne—who joined Vanity Fair in 1984 as a contributing editor, and was named special correspondent in 1993—famously covered the trials of O. J. Simpson, the Menendez brothers, Michael Skakel, William Kennedy Smith, and Phil Spector, as well as the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. He wrote memorable profiles on numerous personalities, among them Imelda Marcos, Robert Mapplethorpe, Elizabeth Taylor, Claus von Bülow, Adnan Khashoggi, and Warren Beatty and Annette Bening. His monthly column provided a glimpse inside high society, and captivated readers.
"He became our first star writer," Tina Brown says in After the Party, a documentary on Dunne. She hired him to write a story on the trial of his daughter's killer for Vanity Fair, and she calls him "the defining voice of the magazine."
Dunne covered the trials of "the rich, the powerful, and the famous," he said in the same documentary. And "the reason I can write assholes so well is that I used to be an asshole."