Writer of Famous Headline Showed up the New York Times

Vincent Musetto / AP
• June 10, 2015 3:44 pm


Vincent A. Musetto, the writer of the famous New York Post headline "Headless Body In Topless Bar" died on Tuesday from cancer at age 74.

The headline appeared above an article about an infamous crime in which a psychopath entered a bar in Queens, shot the owner, and then had the one female patron cut off the victim’s head.

When the police report came across Musetto’s desk, he thought it was almost too good to be true. Upon finding out the that the drinking establishment also featured topless female performers, fate had aligned with those five words. He created the perfect headline.

One of the city editors yelled to Musetto across the room, expressing his disbelief that the local bar was actually a topless one. Musetto jumped on top of his desk and waved his arms yelling,"It’s gotta be a topless bar! This is the greatest fucking headline of my career!"

Several of the editors at the Post found the headline too raunchy, and actually placed a quieter headline with the first version of the story.

Musetto stuck to his loud headline, while other papers, such as the New York Times, took a safer route:

But Musetto stuck to his guns, and "Headless Body in Topless Bar" ran on page 1 the next day.

It prompted witless snarking in egghead circles. The Post’s legendary metropolitan editor, Steve Dunleavy, countered, "What should we have said? ‘Decpitated cerebellum in tavern of ill re-pute?" (The New York Times came close with, "Owner of a Bar Shot to Death; Suspect is Held.")

The famous headline earned Musetto his spot in the pop-culture hall of fame and his clever turn of phrase was featured in Saturday Night Live sketches, became the title of a crime film, and even earned him a night in the guest chair with David Letterman.

Published under: Journalists, New York Times