John Gregory Dunne
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|John Gregory Dunne|
May 25, 1932|
|Died||December 30, 2003
Manhattan, New York
|Occupation||Novelist, screenwriter, literary critic, journalist, essayist|
(m.1964-2003; his death)
|Children||Quintana Roo Dunne (1966-2005)|
|Relatives||Dominick Dunne (brother)|
Life and career
Dunne was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and was a younger brother of author Dominick Dunne. He was the son of Dorothy Frances (née Burns) and Richard Edwin Dunne, a hospital chief of staff and prominent heart surgeon. His Irish Catholic family was wealthy; his maternal grandfather, Dominick Francis Burns, founded the Park Street Trust Company.
He suffered from a severe stutter and took up writing to express himself. Eventually he learned to speak normally by observing others. He attended the Portsmouth Priory School and graduated from Princeton University in 1954, where he was member of the Tiger Inn, and worked as a journalist for Time magazine. He credited the political essayist Noel Parmentel with being his mentor in many ways.
He met Joan Didion in New York in the 1950s, where she was an editor at Vogue. In a 2005 interview Didion recalled, "We amused each other and I thought he was smart. He knew a lot of stuff that I didn't know, like politics and history - I had managed to go through school without learning much except a lot of poems." Having invited her to travel up to Connecticut one weekend in 1963 to visit his family, New England Irish Catholic, with six children, Didion said she "liked the set-up, liked being there, and liked him." He married Didion on January 30, 1964, at Mission San Juan Bautista in California. He was 31 and she 29. They moved to a remote house on the California coast as Didion thought about a follow-up to her first novel, Run, River, and Dunne worked on a book about the California grape pickers' strike, and they wrote a joint by-lined column for the Saturday Evening Post magazine. Unable to have children, in 1966 they adopted a baby at birth and named her Quintana Roo, after the Mexican state.
Dunne and Didion gradually picked up writing work from book publishers and magazines, travelled together on journalism assignments, and established a working pattern that served for the next 40 years, a constant advising, consulting and editing collaboration. Critically acclaimed bestselling books followed for both - including for Dunne, The Studio, his non-fiction account of 20th Century Fox, and they became collaborators on a series of screenplays, including The Panic in Needle Park (1971), A Star Is Born (1976) and True Confessions (1981), an adaptation of his own novel. He was the author of a further non-fiction book about Hollywood, Monster: Living Off the Big Screen.
He was the writer and narrator of the 1990 PBS documentary L.A. is It with John Gregory Dunne, in which he guided viewers through the cultural landscape of Los Angeles.
He was father to Quintana Roo Dunne, who died in 2005 after a series of illnesses, and uncle to actors Griffin Dunne (who co-starred in An American Werewolf in London) and Dominique Dunne (who co-starred in Poltergeist).
His wife, Joan Didion, published The Year of Magical Thinking in October 2005 to critical acclaim, a memoir of the year following his death, during which their daughter, Quintana Roo Dunne, was seriously ill. It won the National Book Award.
- Delano: The Story of the California Grape Strike. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 1967.; University of California Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-520-25433-6
- The Studio
- True Confessions. 1977. E.P. Dutton, reprinted 2005 Thunder's Mouth Press
- The Red White and Blue (1987)
- Harp (1989)
- Dutch Shea, Jr.
- Monster: Living Off the Big Screen
- Playland (1994)
- Nothing Lost. Alfred A. Knopf. 2004.; reprint, Random House, Inc., 2005, ISBN 978-1-4000-3501-4
- Regards: The Selected Nonfiction of John Gregory Dunne. Thunder's Mouth Press year=2006. ISBN 978-1-56025-816-2.
- The Panic in Needle Park (1971)
- Play It as It Lays (1972)
- A Star Is Born (1976)
- True Confessions (1981)
- Up Close & Personal (1996)
- Eric Homberger (2 January 2004). "John Gregory Dunne". The Guardian (London).
- RICHARD SEVERO (1 January 2004). "John Gregory Dunne, Novelist, Screenwriter and Observer of Hollywood, Is Dead at 71". The New York Times.
- McNally, Owen (2009-08-26). "Celebrity Author And Hartford Native Dominick Dunne Dies At Age 83". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2009-08-26.
- Sudyk, Bob (1998-05-24). "Dunne's Trials from Hartford to Hollywood to Hadlyme with a Writer Who's Known the Peak of Fame and Despair's Deepest Trough". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2009-08-26.
- East Side Elegy, Richard Benson interview with Joan Didion, Telegraph Magazine, 2005
- Yardley, Jonathan (22 January 2006). "Jonathan Yardley". The Washington Post.
- George Plimpton (Spring 1996). "John Gregory Dunne, The Art of Screenwriting No. 2". Paris Review.
- John Gregory Dunne at Find a Grave