Dominique Dunne: Wikis


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Dominique Dunne
Born Dominique Ellen Dunne
November 23, 1959(1959-11-23)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Died November 4, 1982 (aged 22)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active 1979–1982

Dominique Ellen Dunne (November 23, 1959 – November 4, 1982) was an American actress.

Dunne made appearances in several made for television movies, television series, and films, and played a prominent role as the oldest daughter, Dana, in the 1982 film Poltergeist. She was strangled to death by her former boyfriend.


Early life

Dunne was born in Santa Monica, California, the daughter of Ellen Griffin, a ranching heiress, and producer/journalist/novelist Dominick Dunne. She was also the niece of novelists John Gregory Dunne and his wife, Joan Didion, and the sister of actor and director Griffin Dunne. Dunne attended schools in Los Angeles, California as well as Fountain Valley School and Colorado State University. After spending a year in Italy, Dunne worked for a short period in L.A. as a receptionist and translator for the Italian Trade Commission but eventually turned to acting.

Acting career

Dunne's first role was in the 1979 made-for-TV movie Diary of a Teenage Hitchhiker. She then got small roles in episodes of popular 1980s television series such as Family, Hart to Hart and Fame. She also appeared in four episodes of the short lived TV series Breaking Away and several more made for TV movies. She was then cast in a major role in producer Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist (1982), directed by Tobe Hooper. After Poltergeist, she appeared in the final season premiere of CHiPs and the 1982 TV movie The Shadow Riders with Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott.

Dunne had been cast as Robin Maxwell in the 1983 miniseries V and had already begun filming a short time before her death. The role was recast with actress Blair Tefkin. The only scene in which Dunne appears, according to the DVD director's commentary by series creator Kenneth Johnson, is the one in which the Maxwells and others watch the L.A. mother ship glide in on the day the Visitors first arrive. Dunne's back is all that is seen. The original miniseries is dedicated to her.


In 1982, after completing work on Poltergeist, Dunne met and later moved in with a Los Angeles chef, John Thomas Sweeney, who was sous-chef at the restaurant Ma Maison. The relationship was abusive, and after a short while Dunne ended it. A few weeks later, on October 30, Sweeney strangled Dunne in the driveway of her home after she refused to reconcile with him. She fell into a deep coma for five days. She died on November 4, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, less than 20 days before her 23rd birthday.

Her last TV appearance, airing after her death, was in an episode of Hill Street Blues titled "Requiem for a Hairbag". She played a teenage mother who is a victim of parental abuse. Some of her bruise marks were actual bruises inflicted by Sweeney the night before filming.[1] The episode was dedicated to her memory.

Sweeney was originally charged with second-degree murder and assault to do great bodily harm; however, on November 10, 1983, the jury in the case acquitted him of these charges and found him guilty only of the lesser included offenses of involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor assault. He was sentenced to 6½ years in prison, the maximum sentence he could have received; but he served less than four years before his release, having been given credit for time served before conviction. He was then hired as a chef at a restaurant in Santa Monica, California; Dunne's family then publicly protested his employment there, and he was fired. In interviews, Dunne's father said that for a time he employed the services of private investigator Anthony Pellicano to follow and report upon Sweeney. According to Dunne's father, Pellicano reported that Sweeney had changed his name to John Maura and moved to the Pacific Northwest. Dunne's father said that he later decided that he no longer wished to squander his life following Sweeney and therefore discontinued any attempts to keep tabs on him.

Dunne was buried in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery near family friend Natalie Wood. In 1988, Heather O'Rourke, Dunne's young Poltergeist costar, was also buried close to her.

See also


  1. ^ Dunne Biography from The Dominique Dunne Site

External links

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