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The Way We Lived Then : Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper

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9780609603888: The Way We Lived Then : Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper
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Mesmerizing, revelatory text combines with more than two hundred photographs -- most of them taken by the author -- in a startling illustrated memoir that will both astonish and move you.

When Dominick Dunne lived and worked in Hollywood, he had it all: a beautiful family, a glamorous career, and the friendship of the talented and powerful. He also had a camera and loved to take pictures. These photographs, which Dunne carefully preserved in more than a dozen leatherbound scrapbooks -- along with invitations, telegrams, personal notes, and other memorabilia -- record the parties, the glittering receptions, the society weddings, and scenes from the everyday lives of the Dunnes and those they knew, including Jane Fonda, Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Roddy McDowall, Elizabeth Taylor, Natalie Wood, Brooke Hayward, Jennifer Jones, and David Selznick. You'll meet them all in this fascinating book -- captured in snapshots as these celebrities relax at poolside barbecues, gossip at cozy get-togethers and dance at the Dunnes' dazzling black-and-white ball. And you will meet Dominick Dunne's beautiful wife, Lenny, and his children, Griffin, Alex, and Dominique, as they celebrate Christmases, birthdays, and graduations.  But, most of all, you will meet Dominick Dunne and learn about the peaks and valleys of his years in Hollywood, the disastrous turn his life took, and the long road back that led to his triumphant career as a writer. With its engaging photographs and candid text, The Way We Lived Then is a riveting and unvarnished account of a life among the stars and a life almost lost.

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In a previous incarnation, writer Dominick Dunne was the toast of Hollywood--entertaining movie stars and socialites and invited by moguls to clambakes and black-tie dances. Long before he started churning out his romans clef set in the private recesses of Hollywood and penthouses of New York City and his dispatches from notorious murder trials, he spent his days on movie sets, producing films like Ash Wednesday and working as an executive at various studios. In the off-hours, he and his wife Lenny ate dinner with Vincente Minnelli, Jack Benny, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Montgomery. They went to beach parties hosted by Jane Fonda and Roddy McDowall--and threw not a few bashes of their own, attended by, well, everyone and often photographed for Vogue magazine. Dunne seemed to carry his camera with him everywhere and "was always sticking [it] into someone's face." Kirk Douglas biting into an oversized hotdog, a scantily clad Paul Newman perusing a picnic table, Princess Margaret smoking, Mia Farrow dancing, and Natalie Wood hamming. Each weekend he carefully arranged his snapshots along with the week's invitations, telegrams, and news-clippings into a set of scrapbooks.

The Way We Lived Then closely resembles those scrapbooks, filled as it is with images culled from them. Dunne sews the scraps together with a loose memoir that moves from the mundane (how the house was decorated for a certain party, how the subjects of a given photo were feeling about one another at the time) to the grand (meditations on his marriage and his children). All of these famous friends, glittery parties, and cozy evenings did add up to a picture-perfect life for a time. But by the mid '60s, Dunne was drinking hard, insulting acquaintances in public, and being a perfectly terrible husband to the lovely Lenny. He was soon arrested carrying drugs into the country from Mexico, divorced, nearly poverty-stricken, and living in a cabin in Oregon. But he lived to tell about it, and though his story is something of a cautionary tale about the dangers of success and excess, punctuated as it is by his dreamy photos, one can't help but wonder if he'd happily go back to the way he lived then. --Jordana Moskowitz

About the Author:

Dominick Dunne is the author of five best-selling novels and two collections of essays, as well as a Special Correspondent to Vanity Fair magazine. He lives in New York City and Hadlyme, Connecticut.

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