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Celebrity crime watcher Dunne dies -

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Celebrity crime watcher Dunne dies

Meredith Griffiths reported this story on Thursday, August 27, 2009 12:50:00

ELEANOR HALL: He is best known for his articles in the US magazine Vanity Fair about the shocking
crimes committed amongst America's wealthy.

The 83 year old investigative journalist and crime writer Dominick Dunne had been battling cancer
and he died overnight.

Meredith Griffiths takes a look back at his career which included covering the trials of OJ Simpson
and Phil Spector.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Dominick Dunne lived his life surrounded by the rich and famous.

DOMINICK DUNNE: During my years as a stage manager there were a lot of new young actors and Grace
Kelly and Steve McQueen, we all became pals.

Bogart, he said, come to dinner. I thought I had died and I'd gone to heaven.

MART CROWLEY: Lenny and Nick's parties was a veritable who's who of Hollywood. If they were famous
and they were hot, they were at the Dunne's.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: His brother was the writer John Gregory Dunne who was married to writer Joan
Didion, and Dominick Dunne's two children went on to become actors.

Dunne won a medal for bravery in World War II before beginning his career in Hollywood.

DOMINICK DUNNE: There is a man who'd written a book about this new thing called television. Pete
Barney he was called. And I was sitting in his office and he said to me, "How'd you like to work in
television?" I said, "What?" He said, "They're hiring stage managers."

He picks up the phone, dah, dah, dah, calls up. He said, "Yes I have a young man in my office. I'd
like you to meet with him please."

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: He went on to become a producer but the lifestyle also led to years struggling
with drug and alcohol addictions.

In the 1980s he became known as a court reporter.

DOMINICK DUNNE: I only cover the trials of the rich, powerful and famous because it is different
for them than for other people because they have got the bucks to spend on the million dollar
lawyers and they've got the bucks to bring in the expert witnesses.

Jurors fall for those expert witnesses every time. I call them "whores of the court" because they
can be bought by either side.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: His regular court stories began in 1984 after his 22-year-old daughter
Dominique was murdered by an ex-boyfriend. Dominick Dunne kept a diary of the trial which was
published in Vanity Fair.

He remained with the magazine covering the murder trials of the Lyle and Erik Menendez who shot
their wealthy parents in Beverley Hills in 1989.

Dominick Dunne had a front row seat at the trial of footballer and actor OJ Simpson for allegedly
murdering his ex-wife and her friend; and as well as his monthly updates the writer became a
regular commentator on TV.

DOMINICK DUNNE: I hate defence attorneys who are all congratulating each other because they got a
guilty man off.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: He also covered the attempted murder trial of socialite Claus von Bulow, and
the rape case against William Kennedy Smith in 1991.

While covering that case he became fascinated with another member of the Kennedy clan. Dominick
Dunne became convinced that Bobby Kennedy's nephew Michael Skakel was guilty of a murder in the
1970s and one of his six novels was a thinly disguised account of the event.

Skakel ended up being tried and convicted and his cousin Robert Kennedy Junior criticised Dunne for
being a gossip columnist not a journalist.

DOMINICK DUNNE: I don't care anything that Robert F Kennedy Junior has to say about me. I mean he
despises me almost as much as I despise him. He has used me over and over again that I'm the one
that is responsible for his cousin being in prison. He is a man for whom I have no respect. And I
went to his parent's wedding by the way. (Laughs)

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Some of Dominick Dunne's final columns related to the two trials of music
producer Phil Spector for murder.

DOMINICK DUNNE: A lot of people are watching this because there have been so many acquittals of
celebrities like OJ, like Robert Blake, like Michael Jackson that LA will be a laughing stock if
this guy gets off.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: In September last year Dominick Dunne disclosed he was undergoing treatment for
bladder cancer. He died from the disease in his Manhattan home last night. He was 83.

ELEANOR HALL: What a character.