The legendary reporter Steve Dunleavy, who was the inspiration for Robert Downey Jr.'s gossip journalist in Natural Born Killers, has passed away. He was 81.
The Sydney-born Dunleavy was famous as a conservative columnist for the New York Post and as a depressing reporter who introduced the US to toboggan TV with A Current Affair.
He was just as well known for his graceful charisma and immediately recognizable by a trademark bouffant of silver hair.
Dunleavy & # 39; s journalistic timing could be flawless. He wrote the first major tell-all book about the life of drug addicts from Elvis Presley, which was published fourteen days before the singer's death and caused a sensation.
Legendary Australian reporter Steve Dunleavy, who was the inspiration for Robert Downey Jr.'s gossip journalist in Natural Born Killers, has passed away. He was 81
Dunleavy & # 39; s was the model for Robert Downey Jr. & # 39; s journalistic character Wayne Gayle (at the top in the pink shirt) in Natural Born Killers, Oliver Stone & # 39; s film about a couple becoming mass killers. Downey Jr. spent time with Dunleavy to prepare for the role
There were few things Dunleavy would not do to get a yarn in a swashbuckling working life, played on four continents over 55 years.
& # 39; I lost count of the number of times I posed as an agent, a civil servant or a funeral director, & # 39; he told his long-time employer Rupert Murdoch & # 39; s biographer William Shawcross.
Murdoch, who Dunleavy always & # 39; The Boss & # 39; said, told the same author: & # 39; He is one of the hardest working journalists I have ever seen. He definitely lives for firsts and to get his name. & # 39;
An 11-page & # 39; s profile of John Cassidy's Dunleavy in The New Yorker magazine in 2000 had the appropriate name & # 39; The Hell-Raiser & # 39 ;.
& # 39; He was smartly dressed, in a gray three-piece suit, a monogrammed white shirt with French cuffs, gold cufflinks, red silk tie and shiny black shoes, & # 39; Cassidy wrote.
& # 39; Its whiteness was that of a rotting cod. His silver pompadour, which makes him look like an aging Elvis imitator, shot from his crown in a glorious pride of taste and gravity. & # 39;
The introduction of Dunleavy in the Australian Media Hall of Fame noted a & # 39; what-it-takes, larger-than-life & # 39; approach to journalism that characterized his career.
Like many of his generation of journalists, Dunleavy was a hard drinker and a heavy smoker. He was immensely popular with women.
He once told an interviewer: & Mate, I've never had a bad day in journalism in my life. You win, you get drunk because you won. You lose, you get drunk because you are lost. & # 39;
Dunleavy's reckless life brought him through Asia and Europe, but it was in the United States where he really left his mark on the introduction of tabloid TV for Americans.
Dunleavy's induction in the Australian Media Hall of Fame noted that he took the & # 39; any-it-takes, larger-than-life & # 39; approach to journalism & # 39; on four continents. An eleven page & # 39; s profile of Dunleavy in The New Yorker in 2000 received the headline & # 39; The Hell-Raiser & # 39;
Together with Australians, including Gordon Elliott, he helped find A Current Affair for Murdoch's Fox network, giving him a more in-your-face attitude to television news shows.
The Washington Post TV critic called Dunleavy & # 39; a sleaze & # 39; and The New York Times described the show as & # 39; nothing but mean & # 39 ;.
His sensational style became the basis for Downey Jr's journalistic character Wayne Gayle in Natural Born Killers, the satirical black comedy by Oliver Stone in 1994 about a couple becoming mass murderers.
Downey Jr. spent time with Dunleavy to prepare for the role.
Stephen Francis Patrick Aloysius Dunleavy grew up in Bondi and started his career in journalism in 1953 as a copyboy for the afternoon tabloid The Sun, where his father worked as a photographer.
He moved to The Sun's competitor, the Daily Mirror, then owned by Ezra Norton but later taken over by Murdoch, for whom he would eventually work for four decades.
One of Dunleavy's early moves to the Mirror while he was still a teenager was piercing his father's tires to get a scoop on The Sun.
Dunleavy did a post at The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and was a freelancer in Japan, India, Greece, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
According to legend, when he arrived in New York City on New Year's Eve, he only had $ 10 in his pocket.
After working as a correspondent for English newspapers, Dunleavy came into contact with Murdoch when the Australian media baron bought the New York Post in 1976.
He made a name for himself at the Post that summer with a series of scoops on the crimes of David Berkowitz, the serial killer of & # 39; Son of Sam & # 39; who terrorized New York.
Dunleavy is depicted with Joey Buttafuoco, a car body dealer who had a sexual relationship with a minor, Amy Fisher, who then shot his wife Mary Jo Buttafuoco. Fisher became known in the gossip magazines as the & # 39; Long Island Lolita & # 39;
In 1977, Dunleavy caught a huge professional vacation when he wrote Elvis: What Happened? in collaboration with three of Elvis Presley's former bodyguards.
The book, which was the first to focus on the singer's addiction to prescription drugs, was published two weeks before Presley's death and continued to sell more than one million copies.
During his years at the Dunleavy Post, he was regularly found at nearby Langan's Bar and Restaurant on West 47th Street, pre-loving his best customer for 18 months.
There he would provide a vodka tonic in court with police, gangsters, politicians, actors and anyone who, according to him, would interest his readers or him.
He was generous with his time and contacts with young reporters, especially his fellow Australians.
Dunleavy retired in October 2008 with a feature attended by hundreds of colleagues and friends, including Murdoch and New York police chief Raymond Kelly.
Kelly said on that occasion: & # 39; The Post without Dunleavy is like Smith without Wesson. & # 39;
Dunleavy, who died in his house on Long Island, is survived by his second wife Gloria and two sons.
Dunleavy retired in October 2008 with a feature attended by hundreds of colleagues and friends, including Murdoch and New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. He is survived by his second wife Gloria and two sons
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