'Headless body in topless bar' headline writer dies

Agence France Presse

Posted at Jun 10 2015 07:07 AM | Updated as of Jun 10 2015 03:07 PM

WASHINGTON, United States - It was a grisly crime in a sleazy place -- the stuff New York tabloid headline writers feast on, too good an opportunity to miss: "Headless body in topless bar."

The author of that dark zinger, former New York Post editor and film critic Vincent Musetto, died Tuesday at the age of 74, the paper said.

He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three weeks ago.

Musetto earned a niche in the New York City journalism hall of fame when he came up with that now iconic headline that ran on the front page of the Post on April 15, 1983.

The crime that inspired him went like this: a man named Charles Dingle fatally shot a topless bar owner named Herbert Cummings in the Bronx.

Dingle then took four women hostage and forced one of them to cut off Cummings' head.

Even Post ower Rupert Murdoch weighed in to pay his respects to Musetto. "Brilliant author of iconic NYPost headline, Vincent Musetto. May he rest in peace," the mogul tweeted.

Musetto enjoyed the fame he got from the headline but his favorite was another: about the execution of Margie Velma Barfield, a 52-year-old woman in 1984, said former Post city editor Dick Belsky.

She was the first woman put to death in America in 22 years, and died of a lethal injection while dressed as if she were going to bed.

"Granny Executed in Her Pink Pajamas," read Musetto's headline.