Vincent Musetto — credited with writing the "Headless Body In Topless Bar" headline that splashed across the front page of the New York Post in 1983 — died Tuesday. He was 74.
The famous headline, which took on a life of its own on T-shirts and even as the title of a movie loosely based on the same event, hit newsstands on April 15, 1983, two days after Charles Dingle shot a Queens bar owner to death. He then took several women hostage — one of whom was a topless dancer — and forced one of them to cut off the owner's head.
Dingle, then 23, was reportedly drunk and high on cocaine when he killed Herbert Cummings, 51, in what would become one of New York's most infamous crimes — helped in no small measure by Musetto's simple, yet effective screamer of a headline.
Dingle was eventually sentenced to 25 years to life in prison after being convicted on murder, kidnapping, rape, and robbery charges. He was denied parole several times after allegedly assaulting prison staff. He died in a correctional facility in 2012.
The headline that endures, however, almost didn't make the presses that day. According to an account of that night in the newsroom published in the Huffington Post, Musetto had the phrase all ready to go when the paper's city editor, Dick Belsky, wanted last minute confirmation that it was, indeed, a topless bar:
Vinnie jumped on top of his desk and waved his arms.
"It's gotta be a topless bar!" he cried. "This is the greatest f------ headline of my career!"
According to the New York Times, Musetto worked for The Advance in Dover, New Jersey, early on in his career before joining The Post as a copy editor in the 1970s. And it was there that he remained before retiring in 2011.
Musetto, who was under hospice care in the Bronx, is survived by his wife, Claire, and a daughter, Carly, The Times reported.
Jason Wells is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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