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Steve Dunleavy, New York Post Reporter and Columnist, Dies at 81

Longtime journalist was ”one of the greatest reporters of all time,“ Rupert Murdoch says

Longtime New York Post reporter and columnist Steve Dunleavy, who made a name for himself with exclusive reports on Elvis Presley’s drug use and an interview with the mother of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin, died at 81 on Monday. No cause of death was given.

Dunleavy, a native of Australia who spent most of his life in the U.S., was remembered in his own paper as a “hard-hitting, hard-drinking” journalist. New York Post owner Rupert Murdoch called Dunleavy “one of the greatest reporters of all time” in the paper’s obit.

“Whether competing with his own father in the famous Sydney, Australia, tabloid wars, or over the last 40 years in New York, Steve’s life story is littered with great scoops,” Murdoch said. “He was much loved by both his colleagues and editors.”

Born in Sydney, Dunleavy quit school at 14 and began working as a copy boy at The Sun. By the late 1960s he’d settled in the U.S. and linked up with Murdoch, writing for several of the media mogul’s outlets. While at Murdoch’s National Star in 1974, he scored perhaps the biggest scoop of his career by flying to California and convincing several members of Presley’s entourage to discuss the singer’s drug issues. The report pushed the tabloid’s circulation from 2 million to 3 million, and ultimately led to a best-selling book.

Dunleavy also gained exclusive interviews with the mother of Sirhan Sirhan, the man who killed Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, and Albert DeSalvo, better known as the confessed “Boston Strangler.” Dunleavy had been the Post’s top crime reporter since Murdoch bought the paper in 1976, and frequently appeared on Murdoch’s “A Current Affair” tabloid TV show during the 1980s and 1990s.

“He was a great man, he lived an amazing life. It’s not a time to mourn its’ definitely a time to celebrate,” his son, Sean told news.com.au.