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'NY Post' Axes 'Headless Body In Topless Bar' Headline Writer

NPR icon by Mark Memmott
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V.A. "Vinnie" Musetto, a legend in the newspaper business because he's credited with the 1983 New York Post banner headline "Headless Body In Topless Bar," has been cut by the tabloid.

Musetto has "been dropped from his freelance gig at the newspaper he worked for in various capacities for four decades," as Capital New York writes.

He retired in 2011, but had been writing film reviews for the Post since then. Wednesday, according to Capital New York, Musetto got an email from the newspaper's film editor:

"Dear Vincent, I'm sorry, but because of budget cutbacks we cannot give you any further reviewing assignments. Your review of THE GRANDMASTER next week is your final assignment."

Musetto sent that email to everyone on the Post's editorial staff, along with this comment:

"after 40 years at post, during which I wrote 'Headless Body in Topless Bar,' it has come to this."

The headline has long been cited as one of the greatest in American tabloid history. Last year, NBC New York wrote about how the Post fact-checked one key point — that the scene of the crime was indeed a topless bar. Dick Belsky, who was the Post's city editor, sent a young reporter to the establishment.

"A few minutes before deadline," Belsky wrote, "the reporter called in to say the bar was locked up tight. There were no signs, no advertisements about it being a topless place. I asked her if she could see inside. She said she'd try. She somehow was able to pull herself up and peek into a window of the bar. That's when she saw it. A sign inside that said: 'Topless Dancing. ... New York City tabloid history was made."

Belsky also noted that Musetto had been the brains behind some of the Post's other most famous headlines, including: "Khadafy Goes Daffy" and "Granny Executed In Her Pink Pajamas."

While the "headless body" headline has long been admired and has produced more than a few chuckles, there was nothing to laugh about concerning the crime.

The Post wrote last year that parole had been denied "for an inmate whose crime inspired the sensational 1983 Post headline 'Headless body in topless bar.' A parole board says it would be dangerous to release 53-year-old Charles Dingle because of his 'continued poor behavior' and 'disturbing criminal history.' ... He was convicted of shooting Queens bar owner Herbert Cummings, taking four women hostage, raping one and ordering another to cut off Cummings' head. Dingle is serving 25 years to life for murder, robbery, rape and kidnapping."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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