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New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy found dead at age 81
Long-time New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy was found dead in his home on Long Island on Monday. He was 81.
Dunleavy helped to define the Post as a columnist, crime reporter, and editor for over 40 years. Owner Rupert Murdoch called him “one of the greatest reporters of all time.”
“Whether competing with his own father in the famous Sydney, Australia, tabloid wars, or over the last 40 years in New York, Steve’s life story is littered with great scoops. He was much loved by both his colleagues and editors,” Murdoch continued. “His passing is the end of a great era.”
A legendary career
Among the many exclusives Dunleavy was able to get during his career were interviews with Sirhan Sirhan’s mother and the “Boston Strangler,” Albert DeSalvo, who even posed nude for Dunleavy’s photographer in prison.
While working for the Star tabloid in the 1970s, also under Murdoch, Dunleavy was able to expose Elvis Presley’s drug problems by interviewing some of his bodyguards, known as the “Memphis Mafia.” He also wrote a book, Elvis: What Happened, for which he received death threats from fans of Presley.
Dunleavy was known to be as hard-drinking as he was hard-hitting, and many stories about him started in a bar. He participated in many barfights, including one with now-disgraced record producer Phil Spector.
Fellow columnist Steve Cuozzo recalls that Dunleavy once called him from a phone number, gave him the number, and told Cuozzo to call back and tell Dunleavy where he was because he didn’t know.
Coming to America
Before coming to America, Dunleavy famously competed with his father over stories in Australia when his father was working for The Sun. He once slashed his father’s tires, then went to confront what he thought was a serial killer in a laundry room.
Turns out his father lured him in and locked the door to keep Dunleavy from getting the scoop.
After freelancing through Asia and Europe, Dunleavy came to America and stayed. He was able to capture the nation’s patriotic spirit in his writing even though he wasn’t a citizen himself.
At one point, he became a reporter for the TV show A Current Affair, but returned to the Post after the show ended in 1995.
Dunleavy retired from the Post in 2008 for health reasons. He was inducted into Australia’s Media Hall of Fame in 2017.
The cause of his death is unknown.
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