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Posts Tagged ‘a current affair’

Charles Manson disciple Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme to be released from prison

Posted by andreaitis on August 5, 2009

Lynette Fromme

Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme; Image via Wikipedia

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme will be released on parole on August 16 after 34 years behind bars.

Fromme was not just a devoted follower of cult leader Charles Manson, she also attempted to assassinate  President Ford in 1975.

For those who need a crimes-of-the-century refresher, members of the ‘Manson Family’ burst into a Beverly Hills home and  killed actress Sharon Tate and four others on August 9th, 1969.  Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski,  was 8 1/2 months pregnant at the time.

I remember writing to Lynette Fromme when I worked at Fox Television’s news magazine A Current Affair, trying to secure a prison interview.  And yes, those were the days when you typed a letter on paper, before you had to distinguish the kind of mail you were sending.   She never agreed but we did get an interview  with another Manson disciple, Fromme’s friend and former roommate Sandra Good.

Legendary tabloid reporter Steve Dunleavy told the story with one-of-a-kind style and flair.

Sandra Good, 1989, Part 1

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Sandra Good, 1989, Part 2

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Good served a 15 year prison term for death threats against more than 170 business executives.  She remained a loyal Charles Manson supporter during her prison term and for years after, even creating a pro-Manson website.  The website went offline in 2001, and so did Sandra Good.  With Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme’s imminent release, we’ll see if Sandra Good can stay hidden for long.

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the boys are back in town

Posted by andreaitis on October 2, 2008

steve dunleavy

dunleavy's pompadour flashback

so, i crashed steve dunleavy’s retirement party.  to be more exact, i instigated and led the crashing of the party.   my a current affair friends and i showed up and waltzed in as if we belonged.  which, of course, we did.

we had heard it was a closed party with tight security, only for the select few new york post staffers.  how can that be, we thought?  that was the most un-dunleavy of parties ever.  so in true tabloid form we showed up uninvited and managed to get ourselves inside.

and there, inside the bourbon street grille, it was like a tabloid time warp: rupert murdoch, maury povich and connie chung,  cristina’s court executive producer (and recent emmy winner) peter brennan, star magazine executive editor barry levine,  tabloid baby burt kearns, and so many more.

dunleavy was in his element.  drink in one hand, cigarette in another, more like the dunleavy we all remember so well.  and i did what i was unable to do when i saw him in penn station: i kissed his cheek, gave him a hug,  and wished him well.   he was happy, the center of attention, holding court and telling stories as the cigarette smoke swirled up and away, as that long tonight faded into tomorrow.

dunleavy: so you think you can dance (he does and he can).  watch part of the video tribute…

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steve dunleavy

Posted by andreaitis on September 30, 2008

nobody does tabloid better than steve dunleavy.   he’s equally aussie and new yorker, an old-school street reporter who would dig his heels into a story, kick it around and then polish it up with clever phrasing and pure passion.  he always imagined ending his career while out on a story (or a bar stool), but that’s not the way this story goes.  his health is failing, and so tomorrow night he closes up shop with a party in his honor.

i met steve in the very early days of fox television’s a current affair.  i was young – still in college – and i worked with him for close to 10 years.   everyone has an opinion of dunleavy and, more likely, a colorful story.  let’s be clear: most of those stories are true.  i certainly have my share, one of which involves his perpetually loose tooth and the airplane glue he was going to use to keep it in place until i reminded him that  he was a fire-breathing cigarette smoker and the glue — yeah, flammable.

another time i showed up on a sunday for a shoot and could not find him anywhere.  the crew was there, it was time to go and still…no dunleavy.  i checked the lobby, the corner deli, even called across the road (translation: the racing club bar, our other office).  still no steve.  by now the crew is loaded up and waiting in the car and we’re running late.  finally, i spin around in the office in exasperation and…there he is.  sitting upright, asleep in a chair.  he was there the entire time and i simply didn’t see him.  i woke him up and off we went.  a typical sunday shoot.

i remember him savagely hacking away at his typewriter, the way he could rattle off a standup in a single take, and his sheer joy at landing a story and beating the competition.   i remember him spending a couple of days with robert downey jr.  to “teach” him how to be a tabloid reporter for his role in natural born killers.  it was pretty funny, watching dunleavy trying to act like he was not acting like a tabloid reporter.  and robert downey jr. nailed it, too.  there’s a lot of exaggerated steve in his performance.

some strange things have happened to me lately.  i recently spoke with a couple of friends about dunleavy.  a few days later, i was rushing through penn station to catch a train.  out of the corner of my eye i see something, a familiar flash.  thirty seconds earlier or later and i wouldn’t have seen him, but it’s steve dunleavy walking toward the escalator that leads up to the street.   still … it wasn’t quite dunleavy.  the man i saw looked the same — grey pants, blue sportcoat with brass buttons, crisp white shirt and blue and red striped tie — except, he was not the same.  he moved slowly, carefully, a cross between a shuffle and a glide.   his skin sallow, his face and eyes…vacant.  it was literally like seeing a ghost.  i watched him go, but did not move to say hello.  i didn’t want to see him that way, to have that in my memory of him.  i wanted to remember the man who would do a quick soft shoe or salsa dance, who had a big hacking laugh, who could zero in on the heart of a story and charm his way into any interview.

when i worked with dunleavy, we did stories on elvis, oj, leona helmsley, colombian drug lord pablo escobar…and we even helped free a wrongly convicted teenager.  he was hard-working and loyal to a fault.  in fact, rupert murdoch may be the only person he was completely faithful to in his entire life.

so steve dunleavy deserves a party, a send-off in style while he is here to enjoy it.  it will be as much for everyone else as it is for him.  steve dunleavy was many things, to be sure…but i knew him to be generous, kind and respectful. and the next time i see him i may still pause, but i will give him a kiss on the cheek and we will reminisce about the first time i met him and how i really screwed up and almost got fired.

which is a story for another time.

dunleavy on objectivity vs. fairness:

dunleavy on the elements of a story:

dunleavy does rhyming slang:

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