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' Headless body' headline writer breathes his last.

MOST of the headline writers work in anonymity. But not Vincent Musetto, who wrote one of the most evocative headlines in the history of American journalism: HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR. Musetto was the revered editor of the New York Post . On Tuesday, at the age of 74, Musetto died in Bronx, reports The New York Times . He died of pancreatic cancer at Calvary Hospital. His death was confirmed by a former colleague, Myron Rushetzky.

The iconic headline appeared on the front page of the New York Post on April 15, 1983. So what was the macabre crime behind this headline? On April 13, 1983,

Charles Dingle, who was drinking in a tavern in the Jamaica section of Queens, argued with the owner Herbert Cummings, and shot him to death. He then took several women hostage; raped one; and forced another to cut off Cummings's head. Dingle was arrested, tried and sentenced to prison for 25 years. He later died at a correctional home in 2012.

But more than the crime, it's the headline of the New York Post that has endured the test of time. Other newspapers at that time didn't have such a headline -- The New York Times , for example, had the headline -- " Owner of a Bar Shot to Death; Suspect Is Held". It was Musetto's clear understanding of the sinister nature of the crime which led to the headline.

Several of his former colleagues over the years recalled how the headline may not have been what it became. On that fateful day, as the deadline loomed in the newsroom, someone pointed out that the bar in question might not actually be a topless.

" It's gotta be a topless bar!" Musetto cried, as his former colleague Charlie Carillo wrote for The Huffington Post in 2012.

The New York Post then despatched a reporter, who phoned from Queens to say that indeed the bar was a topless one.

Interestingly, the headline was not among Musetto's favourite that he wrote for the newspaper. He often said that the honour went to another headline written next year -- GRANNY EXECUTED IN HER PINK PAJAMAS. Vincent Albert Musetto Jr, known as Vinnie, was born in May 1941. He grew up in Boonton, New Jersey and earned a bachelor's degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

In an interview to The Miami Heral d in 1986 he said: " The average guy probably thinks that whoever writes headlines for The Post probably never got past third grade. I guess maybe they'd be shocked." Vincent Musetto, 74, died of pancreatic cancer in New York

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jun 11, 2015
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