Noted Vanity Fair writer, TV host, and chronicler of the rich and sleazy, Dominick Dunne, died today of bladder cancer at age 83.
Like Truman Capote, another social chronicler, Dunne often bit the well-manicured hands that fed him. A friend of Alfred and Betsy Bloomingdale of the department store fortune, he turned Alfred’s relationship with his mistress, Vicki Morgan, into a roman a clef, “An Inconvenient Woman” (1990). Similarly, Dunne, who had been a guest at the 1950 wedding of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel, turned his theories about the culpability of Ethel’s nephew, Michael Skakel, in a long-unsolved murder into another novel, “A Season in Purgatory” (1993). Skakel ultimately was tried and convicted. His cousin, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., blamed Dunne for the conviction and told talk show host Larry King that the writer was “not a journalist. He’s a gossip columnist.” If, as Capote said, all literature is gossip, Dunne was a believer. He loved to “dish,” giving rumor equal time with news in his Vanity Fair reports. His story on the Edmond Safra murder, for instance, was an engrossing brew of fact and rank speculation as only Dunne could produce. He repeated hearsay and used unnamed sources liberally, such as a “well-connected woman once married to a prominent figure in the film world” or “a waiter serving me risotto” at a dinner party. Dunne had everyone whispering in his ear.
Interesting trivia: Dunne produced the film version of Boys In The Band.