Steve Dunleavy, Brash Face of Murdoch Journalism, Dies at 81


“Regardless of the number of drinks he has ingested, no matter how slurred his speech,” he continued, “he has the curious ability to pan nuggets of gold from the pond of his intellect and extemporaneously recite them to his editor.”

In a New Yorker profile titled “The Hell-Raiser,” John Cassidy described Mr. Dunleavy as “smartly dressed, in a gray three-piece suit, white monogrammed shirt with French cuffs, gold cuff links, red silk tie, and shiny black shoes.”

“His pallor was that of a rotting cod,” Mr. Cassidy went on. “His silver pompadour, which makes him resemble an aging Elvis impersonator, shot from his crown in glorious defiance of taste and gravity.”

If Mr. Dunleavy exhibited a certain sartorial dash, he professed never to put on airs. He called journalism “a craft, like being a master plumber.”

“We wore white collars,” he said of his generation of reporters, “but we were blue collar.”

Stephen Francis Patrick Aloysius Dunleavy was born on Jan. 21, 1938, in Bondi Beach, at the time a working-class suburb of Sydney, Australia, to Steven and Dorothy Dunleavy. His father was a photographer for the Sydney tabloid The Sun. Steve quit school and went to work for the paper as a copy boy when he was 14.

Two years later, he was hired as a cub reporter by the rival Daily Mirror, where, legend has it, he deflated the tires on his father’s car so that The Mirror’s photographer would get to the scene of a story first.

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