John Gregory Dunne, a best-selling author and screenwriter, died on Dec. 30 from a heart attack. He was 71.
To cope with a childhood stuttering problem, Dunne began to write. After graduating from Princeton University in 1954, and doing a short stint in the Army, he moved to New York City to become a journalist for Time Magazine. During the 1960s, Dunne followed Chicano labor leader Cesar Chavez’s travels through California to write “Delano: The Story of the California Grape Strike.” He then spent a year doing research at 20th Century Fox for “The Studio,” his first of many books about Hollywood.
He and his wife, author Joan Didion, became screenwriters in the 1970s, and together penned “A Star Is Born,” “Panic in Needle Park” and “Up Close and Personal.” They also teamed up to write the screenplay for “True Confessions,” which was based on Dunne’s 1977 best-selling novel about a woman’s brutal murder. His latest novel, “Nothing Lost,” will be published in May.
Dunne followed the success of “True Confessions” with several critically acclaimed novels, including “The Red White and Blue” and “Playland.” He published “Harp” and “Vegas,” two semiautobiographical books about his life, work and travels, and frequently contributed literary critiques to The New York Review of Books.
The Dunne family is rather famous in American entertainment circles. John was the uncle of actress Dominique Dunne and actor/director Griffin Dunne, and the younger brother of author Dominick Dunne.