Dominick Dunne in Interview

By

Published August 26, 2009

Novelist, crime reporter, former film producer, and Vanity Fair columnist Dominick Dunne died this afternoon in Manhattan at the age of 83. For the September 1985 issue of Interview, Dunne spoke with Anthony Haden-Guest about moving out of Hollywood and the writing of his second novel, The Two Mrs. Grenvillesâ??based on the well-chronicled 1955 murder of banking heir Billy Woodward by his wife, Annâ??which became a best seller. (PHOTO BY ANDREW BRUCKER)

 

On Ann Woodward, on whom The Two Mrs. Grenvilles was based:

I saw her once in the Stork Club when I was a young man  in college, I saw her dancing with this guy and she was singing into the guyâ??s ear when she was dancing and itâ??s something that I never forgot. I used it all through the bookâ??it was a very sexy sort of thingâ?¦She was somebody who you just looked at. I had a girlfriend at that time whose father had married someone connected with the family, so I used to hear about herâ??this showgirl who had married into this very swell family. Iâ??m very interested in outsiders, and she was an outsider and remained an outsider throughout  the thirteen years of their marriage and beyond, after the shooting.

 

On making the switch from film producer to writer:

It was very nice being a producer, but the great thing about life is that we donâ??t have to just stay with what weâ??re doing. We can go into other areas of ourselves.

 

On his self-imposed exile in Oregon:

It was amazingâ??I didnâ??t know where I was going and I got a flat tire. I had been on the road on this incredible drive up the coast of California and Oregon and I got to the state of Washington, then I just sort of came back and drove down the river and got into the Cascade Mountains and it was just glorious, so beautiful, and I got a flat tire in this little place, and thatâ??s how I found it. I stayedâ??I had to change the tire, fix the thing and do this and I saw this place and I rented it.

 

On Truman Capote:

When I was in Oregon, Truman wrote me this incredible letter of both admiration for what I was doing and encouragement, and he said to me, thereâ??s one thing you must remember, that when you get out of it what you went there to get, you must come back, because thatâ??s not where you belong, or something like that. I have that letter, I saved it.