Griffin Dunne Talks Black and White Ball, Kennedys at Santa Monica Book Party

It was a full-circle moment for actor/producer and author Griffin Dunne Tuesday night when he hosted a party at The Georgian hotel for his book, “The Friday Afternoon Club: A Family Memoir.”

He finished writing it in a suite at the Santa Monica hot spot, overlooking the beach cottage where his parents Dominick Dunne and Ellen “Lenny” Dunne first lived, next to Kennedy in-law Peter Lawford, when they moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s.

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“I could see it from the window, where President Kennedy landed right between our two houses to come to the Lawfords and he got out on the beach. You’ve seen those pictures in Life magazine. I remember President Kennedy swimming in the water. And I remember my mother rushing to the hospital with a child in her belly that didn’t make it,” Griffin Dunne said.

“And obviously, the trial,” he continued, recalling how his family gathered at the Santa Monica Courthouse daily for the trial of his sister Dominique Dunne’s killer.

“From the top floor of this hotel I could almost see everything. And then as I was writing, I hit a certain period and I got to where my daughter was born. I said, ‘I’m done.’ I didn’t know how I was going to end it. But I couldn’t top that,” he said of his daughter Hannah.

Michael Keaton and Griffin Dunne attend the Friday Afternoon Club book signing after party at The Georgian Hotel. (Photo By: Rochelle Brodin)
Michael Keaton and Griffin Dunne attend the Friday Afternoon Club book signing after party at The Georgian Hotel. (Photograph by Rochelle Brodin)

Eventually, Griffin’s family moved to Beverly Hills, and were at the center of a social swirl that included a who’s who of Hollywood. Dominick and Lenny threw a Black and White ball of their own in L.A., which Truman Capote attended, giving him the idea to have his own Black and White Ball at the Plaza Hotel in New York, as depicted in the Ryan Murphy series “Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans.”

For the Dunnes’ Black and White ball, Women’s Wear Daily sent a sketch artist to record the event, as Griffin writes in the book. He doesn’t remember what his mother wore exactly, but guesses maybe Oleg Cassini. “My dad would be able to tell you certainly, I’m sure it was a dress designed for her,” he said. “Christopher Isherwood was in Los Angeles at the time, in Santa Monica, and his lover was Don Bachardy, who did all the drawings for Women’s Wear Daily and the sketches from the party.”

The author’s nearest and dearest came to raise a glass to him and the book. It’s a great read, from his childhood memories of being saved from drowning in the family pool by Sean Connery, to his young adult discretions deflowering best friend Carrie Fisher, his adventures in Hollywood working on “After Hours” and other films, to how his family endured so much tragedy.

Griiffin Dunne and Sandra Bullock and Michael Keaton  attend the Griffin Dunne book signing after party at The Georgian Hotel. (Photo By: Rochelle Brodin)

“I love you, brother,” said Michael Keaton, with whom he was filming “Johnny Dangerously” in 1984, the day the trial verdict came down. As detailed in the book, it was Keaton who immediately called for the production to be wrapped for the day.

His pal Sandra Bullock, whom he directed in “Practical Magic” in 1998, also came out in support, posing with the author and his book, and grabbing a chocolate chip cookie before hitting the road. It was recently revealed that Bullock and Nicole Kidman are set to reprise their roles in a sequel, “Practical Magic 2.”

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