Yesterday, former Hollywood producer-turned-novelist-turned-crime journalist and longtime Vanity Fair columnist Dominick Dunne passed away from bladder cancer. As journalists survey at Dunne's career, they recall a writer who bounced between the bottom and the top of society to portray celebrities' crimes and foibles from up close.
- A Great Social Chronicler, says Tina Brown, who hired Dunne while editing Vanity Fair. "Nick loved nothing more than to be dispatched to study the foibles of such Dynasty-era divas as Aaron Spelling’s wife Candy in her preposterously large Beverley Hills mansion and turn her into a delicious cartoon of Reagan-era excess. But his real forte was the dark side. He was a naked advocate for the rights of the victim, a scourge of the slick defense lawyer, an excited repository of leaked letters, prosecution leads, and the whispered confidences of bold-faced names who gave him the back story."
- The Ultimate Success Story, says current Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. "That Dunne had the moxie to start a new career in another city and then to do it again in a city of his own is one of the many extraordinary accomplishments in a life that was, in itself, composed of many lives. 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."
- A Sly, Honest Reporter, says Dan Abrams who met Dunne "when I was a cub reporter for Court TV on the OJ Simpson Case." He says, "He knew what people wanted to hear and said it, often along with a guffaw. Dominick working a party often felt like an animated film — bright colors, loud noises, and action packed adventure. But more important he extracted confidence by regaling groups with self-deprecating stories of his own life as well as amusing but relatively innocuous gossip about others."
- A Topdog/Underdog hero, says Vanity Fair colleague Jesse Kornbleuth. "As much as we like the Rocky myth of a nobody getting somewhere, we also thrill to the story of a guy who got somewhere, lost it and fought his way back -- and then, until almost his dying day, made his living and his life by trying, as best he could, to tell the truth."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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