Best-selling novelist Dominick Dunne, who gained A-List fame chronicling the shocking crimes of the rich and famous, succumbed to bladder cancer Wednesday and died at his home in Manhattan. He was 83.
Dunne grew up in a large, prominent and wealthy Irish-Catholic family in West Hartford, CT. A former movie producer and TV exec, Dunne found real success later in life with such novels as The Two Mrs. Grenvilles and A Season in Purgatory. But it was his brilliant and often controversial coverage of the O.J. Simpson “Trial of the Century” for Vanity Fair that transformed him in 1995 into a bona fide, red-hot celebrity in his own right.
Dunne, who was well known for sympathizing with crime victims because his own daughter was murdered in 1982, became a fixture at the trial with his biting commentary. His novel about the Simpson case, Another City, Not My Own, became an instant best-seller.
Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter hailed Dunne as a gifted reporter who was as fascinating as the people he wrote about.
“Anyone who remembers the sight of O.J. Simpson trying on the famous glove probably remembers a bespectacled Dunne, resplendent in his trademark Turnbull & Asser monogrammed shirt, on the court bench behind him,” Carter said in a statement released Wednesday. “It is fair to say that the halls of Vanity Fair will be lonelier without him and that, indeed, we will not see his like anytime soon, if ever again.”
In the past year, Dunne had traveled to Germany and the Dominican Republic for experimental stem cell treatments to fight his cancer. He wrote that he and the late actress Farrah Fawcett were in the same clinic in Bavaria but didn’t see each other. Fawcett died in June of anal cancer at the age of 62.
Dunne’s final novel, Too Much Money, is scheduled to be published on December 1, 2009.