“He Wrote Simple Declarative Sentences That People Could Read”

(p. B16) Steve Dunleavy, a hell-raising Australian who transfused his adrenaline into tabloid newspapers and television as a party crasher to American journalism, died on Monday [June 24, 2019] at his home in Island Park, N.Y.

. . .

He was said to have been the model for Wayne Gale, the manic Australian reporter played by Robert Downey Jr. in Oliver Stone’s 1994 film “Natural Born Killers.” But he gravitated closer to the Runyonesque characters in Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s play “The Front Page” from 1928.

. . .

After the actress Ava Gardner rejected his invitation to be interviewed at a nightclub and threw a glass of champagne in his face, he wrote an article that began: “Last night, I shared a glass of champagne with Ava Gardner. She threw it; I wore it.”

. . .

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.

. . .

For all his rakishness, Mr. Dunleavy won the affection and even the respect, sometimes begrudging, of many colleagues.

“In a time of listless reporting, he climbed stairs,” the Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin once said. “And he wrote simple declarative sentences that people could read, as opposed to these 52-word gems that moan, ‘I went to college! I went to graduate school college! Where do I put the period?’”

For the full obituary, see:

Sam Roberts. “Steve Dunleavy, 81, Dies; Avatar of Murdoch News.” The New York Times (Wednesday, June 26, 2019): B16.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date June 25, 2019, and has the title “Steve Dunleavy, Brash Face of Murdoch Journalism, Dies at 81.”)

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