Tabloid reporter was known for his brash antics and determination to get scoops
By: Linnea Crowther
27 days ago
Steve Dunleavy was an Australian-born tabloid journalist who was a lead reporter on the television show "A Current Affair" and a columnist for the New York Post. Described as brash, hell-raising, and swashbuckling, Dunleavy was known for his wild antics, both on the job and off. He began working for Rupert Murdoch's newspapers in the 1960s, joined "A Current Affair" when Murdoch launched it in 1986, and later returned to the Post until his 2008 retirement. Over the decades of his career, he covered some of the most sensational stories to hit the headlines, especially murders and affairs. Oliver Stone reportedly based the role of tabloid journalist Wayne Gale in "Natural Born Killers," played by Robert Downey Jr., on Dunleavy.
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Died: June 24, 2019 (Who else died on June 24?)
Details of death: Died at home in Island Park, New York at the age of 81.
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Getting the scoop: Dunleavy was endlessly creative in his attempts — often successful — to be the first to report the news. His ruthless pursuit of the scoop dated all the way back to when he was 14 and working for an Australian newspaper. Chasing down a story about missing hikers, he saw a rival journalist's car and slashed its tires so he couldn't be beaten to the story… and the rival journalist was his father, a photographer for a competing paper. Dunleavy would continue his outrageous research style in the U.S., sneaking into hospitals, wearing disguises, and even paying big bucks for exclusive stories. In 1987, he was determined to be the first to get an interview with Jessica Hahn about her affair with televangelist Jim Bakker. When camping out under her window and serenading her all night didn't work, and Hahn promised an exclusive to ABC's "Nightline," Dunleavy intercepted the limo ABC sent for Hahn, telling the driver Hahn had gone to the hospital. He even arranged for a neighbor to corroborate the story — and it worked. Dunleavy got the scoop.
Notable quote: “I lost count the number of times I posed as a cop, a public servant, or a funeral director.” —Dunleavy to Murdoch biographer William Shawcross
What people said about him: “There are a million Steve Dunleavy stories, and they're all true, even the ones that never happened.” —Stuart Marques, Dunleavy's former colleague
“He's feisty, he's resilient, he's self-made, he stands up for what he believes in — and he can even, on occasion, be charming.” —Former New York governor Mario Cuomo
“He was the brightest bulb in the room at all times… It didn't seem he would be vulnerable to mortal things like death.” —Peter Brennan, "A Current Affair" executive producer
Full obituary: New York Times