Steve Dunleavy

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Steve Dunleavy
Stephen Francis Patrick Aloysius Dunleavy

(1938-01-21)21 January 1938
Died24 June 2019(2019-06-24) (aged 81)
Years active1953–2008
Gloria (married 1971–2019)

Stephen Francis Patrick Aloysius Dunleavy (21 January 1938 – 24 June 2019) was an Australian[2] journalist based in the United States, best known as a columnist for the New York Post from 1976 to 2008. He was a lead reporter on the tabloid television program A Current Affair in the 1980s and 1990s.

Early life and career[edit]

Born at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Dunleavy began his career in the city during 1953, as a copy boy for the Sydney Sun, where his father worked as a photographer.[3][4]

Later he moved to The Daily Mirror, an evening newspaper (also in Sydney) which then was owned by Ezra Norton. He subsequently worked in Hong Kong for The South China Morning Post, and freelanced in Japan, India, Greece, Italy, Spain and England.[3]

After a period at United Press International in London, he arrived in New York City on New Year's Eve, 1966 with $10 in his pocket.[3]

Career in the United States[edit]

Dunleavy worked in the New York bureau of Rupert Murdoch's Australian newspapers.[4] He joined the New York Post as a news reporter in 1977, not long after Murdoch purchased the newspaper.[5] Journalist William Shawcross, in his biography of Murdoch, wrote that Dunleavy was "a good-looking, hard-drinking, womanising, roustabout swashbuckler with an astounding gift for turning dross into lively cliché, drear facts into purpled prose".[4] According to Steve Cuozzo, Dunleavy (falsely) claimed in the preparation of one story that AIDS could be transmitted by kissing. When challenged, he responded: "Let’s not be too technical, mate – it’s a good yarn."[6]

Dunleavy was persuaded to transfer to the new Fox network in 1986, and was involved in creating the United States tabloid television format in the 1980s. He became a regular reporter for A Current Affair. The programme lasted from 1986 to 1995, after which Dunleavy returned to the New York Post.[1]


DuMond controversy[edit]

Dunleavy wrote a series of articles in defence of Wayne DuMond, a Vietnam veteran who was convicted of rape in Arkansas in 1984, questioning the justice of DuMond's sentence and conviction. DuMond's sentence was eventually reduced to the point where he was paroled; within a year of his release, he went on to rape and murder two women in Missouri. This Willie Horton-like incident resurfaced as a political issue during the 2008 presidential election, since it was Republican candidate Mike Huckabee who secured DuMond's parole while governor of Arkansas; critics alleged that Huckabee became interested in the issue after reading Dunleavy's articles.[7]

Beltway Sniper controversy[edit]

In his column of 17 October 2002 regarding the Beltway sniper attacks, Dunleavy wrote, "If when the shooter is caught, if he is not a foreigner, I will bare my derriere in Macy’s window." The shooter, John Lee Malvo was born in Jamaica and entered the United States illegally with his mother.[8]


In 1977, in association with three of Elvis Presley's former bodyguards, Dunleavy published the paperback Elvis: What Happened? (ISBN 978-0345272157) which investigated Presley's life behind the scenes. It was published on 1 August, just two weeks before Presley's death on 16 August. This was the first book that focused on Presley's addiction to prescription drugs. Following Presley's death in August 1977, the book sold more than 1 million copies.


After a 55-year career, Dunleavy retired with a celebration on 1 October 2008 that was attended by 400 colleagues and friends.[9] Those who honored Dunleavy included News Corp chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch, Post editor-in-chief Col Allan, NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly, Uniformed Firefighters Association president Steve Cassidy and former A Current Affair host Maury Povich, accompanied by his wife, Connie Chung.[10]


Dunleavy's personality was the model for actor Robert Downey Jr.'s performance as Wayne Gale in Oliver Stone's film Natural Born Killers.[5]

Personal life[edit]

His first wife was Yvonne Dunleavy, a fellow Australian and the ghostwriter of The Happy Hooker.[3]

Dunleavy died at his home in Long Island, New York in June 2019, aged 81.[11] He was survived by his second wife, Gloria, and their sons, Peter and Sean.[12] [13]

Dunleavy was described in his London Times obituary as "Rupert Murdoch’s No 1 éminence grise".[14] He "was one of the greatest reporters of all time", Murdoch himself commented in tribute. "His passing is the end of a great era."[5]


  1. ^ a b Roberts, Sam (25 June 2019). "Steve Dunleavy, Brash Face of Murdoch Journalism, Dies at 81". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Steve Dunleavy, Australian reporter known as 'Murdoch's attack dog', dead". The Sydney Morning Herald. 25 June 2019. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d John Cassidy, "The hell-raiser", Sydney Morning Herald, 9 December 2000, Good Weekend, p. 80
  4. ^ a b c "Steve Dunleavy, self-mythologising Australian 'bad boy' of US tabloids with a gift for turning dross into lively cliché – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. London. 28 June 2019. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "Tabloid reporter, columnist Steve Dunleavy dies at 81". The Washington Post. Associated Press. 25 June 2019. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  6. ^ Page, Bruce; Potter, Elaine (2011). The Murdoch Archipelago. London & New York City: Simon & Schuster. p. 31.
  7. ^ Waas, Murray (28 March 2008). "Documents Expose Huckabee's Role In Serial Rapist's Release". Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Arango, Tim (28 September 2008). "A 'Tabloid Guy' Calls It a Night After 41 Years With Murdoch". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  10. ^ "Rupert Murdoch on Steve Dunleavy: His "Whole Career Defies Description"". Observer. 2 October 2008. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  11. ^ "Legendary Aussie journalist Steve Dunleavy dies". 25 June 2019. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Steve Dunleavy obituary". The Times. London. 26 June 2019. Retrieved 29 June 2019.

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