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The Friday Afternoon Club: A Family Memoir


The Friday Afternoon Club: A Family Memoir

On October 31, 1982, Griffin Dunne received a phone call from his father with earth-shattering news. His sister, Dominique, had been strangled by her ex-boyfriend and was on life support. The need for the Dunnes to come together as a united front had never been greater. Griffin traveled with his father, Dominick, and brother, Alex, to California to console his mother, Ellen, and maintain vigil by Dominique’s side.

Griffin Dunne was born in 1955 to Dominick and Ellen (nee Griffin) Dunne. Ellen was the daughter of a hard-working cattle rancher who grew up in Arizona. Dominick was the son of an open-heart surgeon who lived in Connecticut. He endured emotional and often physical abuse from his father for his perceived lack of masculinity. Dominick went on to serve in the US Army during World War II where he received a medal for heroic actions. He met Ellen a short time later and was smitten. The couple married in 1954 and resided in New York City.

"A widely known veteran actor, Griffin Dunne showcases a real talent for writing. Frank, humorous and touching, THE FRIDAY AFTERNOON CLUB profiles a truly American family."

The celebrity culture figured prominently in Griffin’s life from birth onward. Dominick worked on various television productions and later would venture into producing feature films. The relocation of the family to Los Angeles would bring celebrities up close and personal as bon vivant Dominick and the always amiable Ellen hosted numerous get-togethers featuring the glitterati of Hollywood. However, the secrets behind closed doors led to the demise of their marriage. This was an early hurdle for Griffin to face, but he managed not to let it affect his relationship with either parent. He, Alex and Dominique remained close over the years.

By the early 1980s, Griffin had garnered a notable supporting role in An American Werewolf in London, while Dominique’s future looked bright with television appearances and her performance in the hit film Poltergeist. The murderous actions of an obsessive and abusive ex tragically curtailed her life. Griffin and his family would remain unified from Dominique’s passing throughout the high-profile trial of her killer. The pain that Griffin conveys is palpable with every page. The trial ended with a controversial verdict, but the Dunnes would have the last word.

Griffin spares no emotions in bringing readers the lion’s share of his life story. Family and friendships, feuds and affairs all factor into its orbit. This outstanding memoir begins with an introduction to the unspeakable tragedy that left an indelible mark on him and his loved ones. However, for each poignant moment in the long family history, there are instances of side-splitting levity and heart-warming sentimentality. Griffin possesses a self-deprecating manner in relating stories from both his youth and his adulthood. The narrative charts the ins and outs of his attempts to find success as an actor while his father undergoes a career renaissance as a novelist and true crime author; his mother’s brave battle with MS; and his brother’s struggle with mental illness.

A widely known veteran actor, Griffin Dunne showcases a real talent for writing. Frank, humorous and touching, THE FRIDAY AFTERNOON CLUB profiles a truly American family.

Reviewed by Philip Zozzaro on June 21, 2024

The Friday Afternoon Club: A Family Memoir
by Griffin Dunne

  • Publication Date: June 11, 2024
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press
  • ISBN-10: 0593652827
  • ISBN-13: 9780593652824