Dominick Dunne, 1925-2009

Crime journalist and novelist Dominick Dunne, who often wrote about the Kennedy family’s scandals, died at the age of 83 just hours after Senator Ted Kennedy passed away on Wednesday.

Dunne, an Irish American Catholic from Hartford, Connecticut, is best known for writing on real-life crimes committed by the rich and famous, including O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bulow.

The writer died from bladder cancer at his home in New York City on August 26.

Dunne was born on October 29, 1925 into a wealthy Irish-American family in Hartford. The celebrity writer described his family as “minor-league Kennedys.”

According to Dominick, the Dunne family’s Catholic faith made him a social outsider, inspiring him to promise "that I was going to move in the upper circles of society and lead an exciting life,” he said.

A failed movie producer, Dunne found fame in the 1960s with his high class parties, which were frequented by Hollywood legends Natalie Wood, Lauren Bacall and Paul Newman.

Dunne got mixed up in drinking and cocaine, but eventually made a life change and became a journalist in the late 1970s.

He became a reporter for Vanity Fair magazine, and his first major celebrity crime story was his coverage of his 22-year-old actress daughter Dominique Dunne’s murder. "Justice: A Father's Account of the Trial of His Daughter's Killer," appeared in the March 1984 issue of Vanity Fair, and was hailed as insightful and sharp journalism.

Dunne went on to write about the celebrity trials of British socialite Claus von Bulow, who was acquitted of attempting to kill his wife; William Kennedy Smith, who was acquitted of rape; and brothers Lyle and Erik Menendez, who were convicted of murdering their millionaire parents with a shotgun.  

The journalist’s most high profile case came with the murder trial of O.J. Simpson in 1995. Dunne became a confidant of witnesses in the case and often made TV appearances in his signature dapper suits and round glasses.

“It's got everything," he once said of the trial. "Rich people, big houses, interracial marriage, love, sex, lies, fame. And all the justice that money can buy."

Dunne wrote the bestselling novel on the Simpson trial, “Another City, Not My Own.”

He also wrote fictionalized accounts of high-society crimes in his famous novels "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" (1985) and "An Inconvenient Woman" (1990).

Dunne explained the secret to his journalistic success to The Washington Post in 1993, saying: "I'm simply a very good listener. And listening is an underrated skill. If you really listen – if you're really interested – someone is bound to talk."

Dunne is survived by his sons Griffin and Alexander Dunne.