"They don't make lives like Dominick Dunne's anymore," said Thom Geier in Entertainment Weekly. A film producer and TV executive who "forged a late career as a best-selling author and journalist (and telegenic raconteur)," Dunne died on Wednesday at the age of 83. Best known for his "witty" Vanity Fair coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial and of Princess Diana's death, Dunne "cast a cool, stylishly bespectacled eye on the national fascination with celebrity and high society." And "like Truman Capote," he became "as famous as his subjects."

But it was a long road getting to that point, said Elaine Woo in the Los Angeles Times. "Drugs and alcohol ruined" Dunne's career as a TV and film producer, and it took the murder of his daughter—Poltergeist actress Dominique Dunne—for him to start his "life over as a writer." In Vanity Fair, he "raged at the injustice of the crime and the leniency of the killer's punishment," and that "story propelled its author into a new career."

Dominick Dunne also went on to write two best-selling novels, The Two Mrs. Grenvilles and An Inconvenient Woman, said Enid Nemy in The New York Times, and to host the Court TV show Power, Privilege and Justice. "Even as his health declined," Dunne frequently held court at Michael's restaurant in Manhattan, "a favorite gathering spot of the news media elite." And in 2006, while in a hospital being treated for cancer, he disconnected himself from the medical instruments attached to him, "walked out, and took a taxi home."