June 9, 2015

"HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR."

Arguably the greatest headline of all time (especially if greatness is measured by memorability out of proportion to the significance of the news that was reported).

Written for The New York Post in 1983, by editor Vincent Musetto, who has died at the age of 74, and has a nice, long obituary in the NYT.
(The corresponding headline in The New York Times that day proclaimed, genteelly, “Owner of a Bar Shot to Death; Suspect Is Held.” Headlessness was not mentioned until the third paragraph; toplessness not at all.)

Mr. Musetto’s headline, exquisitely emblematic of The Post under Rupert Murdoch, quickly insinuated itself into popular culture.... But... it was not Mr. Musetto’s favorite among the many headlines he wrote for the paper. That honor, he often said, went to one composed the next year: “GRANNY EXECUTED IN HER PINK PAJAMAS.”

29 comments:

Wilbur said...

My favorite is a fairly recent AP headline "No charges in Snow Kone Joe - Mr. Ding-a-Ling ice cream fight"

virgil xenophon said...

Greatest headline EVER, anywhere, seen on front cover of the National Enquirer, circa Aug/Sept, 1967: "She cut out his heart and stomped on it!" LOL!

MisterBuddwing said...

Always had a fondness for the New York Daily News headline, "Ford to City: Drop Dead."

Big Mike said...

The Granny was Velma Barfield, and she was quite some cookie. She confessed to having murdered six people, and was the first woman executed by lethal injection. She really was executed wearing pink pajamas.

JCC said...

"Man Accused In Decapitation Called `Nice` By Victim`s Mom"

The cops were called about a disturbance. The first officer was hit in a chest by what he thought was a basketball thrown by the suspect. Wrong.

When we found the girlfriend's body (sans tĂȘte), she was wearing a t-shirt that said "Sticks and Stones will Break My Bones, But Whipe and Chains Excite Me"

All true.

The secret to any relationship: make sure you get along with your SO's mother.

rhhardin said...

Onassis looking to buy Buster Keaton's estate, caption: Aristotle contemplating the home of Buster.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Someday it'll be somebody's job to say something nice about the inventor of clickbait.

Jason said...

Weiner: "I'll Stick it Out."

http://www.villagevoice.com/news/did-you-know-the-new-york-posts-anthony-weiner-headlines-include-wordplay-6685773

DanTheMan said...

Hix Nix Stix Pix

Variety, July 17, 1935

MisterBuddwing said...

Hix Nix Stix Pix

Actually: "Sticks Nix Hick Pix." Although the popular misquote is, "Stix Nix Hix Pix."

http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/stltoday.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/ee/5ee9fc36-0eed-11e1-92a5-0019bb30f31a/4ec15c022050e.preview-620.png

dix said...

Or the one word headline when bright lights showed the upper part of John Kerry's daughter's dress to be translucent at a certain film festival in France. "Cannes"

Beorn said...

Mental institution patient escaped, and started a raping rampage.

Headline: NUT, BOLTS, AND SCREWS!

Bill R said...

A local columnist for the Albany Times Union in the 70's said that the greatest headline ever was ...

Sex Slayer Bares Love Diary

This was on the grounds that every word had what he called "Punch"

Mnemosyne's Notebook said...

I thought he came up with the headline about the midget spiritualist on the lamb:"Small Medium At Large" - but I don't see it mentioned.

Bill said...

My favorite headline was from a British tabloid: QUEEN'S KNICKERS IN TWIST OVER FERGIE TOE-SUCK. I think that was it.

Scott said...

I would second the motion that the greatest headline of all time is "FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD" in the New York Daily News. It changed the outcome of a presidential election.

Gahrie said...

I thought he came up with the headline about the midget spiritualist on the lamb:"Small Medium At Large" - but I don't see it mentioned.

Soooo close....it's lam

D&D said...

No, I think it was the NY Post which greets the news of Yasser Arafat's death with a picture of his crying widow behind the headline: "The Arafat Lady Sings".

(Suha Arafat, the paper says, has cut a deal with the Palestinian authorities that gives her $22m a year in exchange for "divulging the secrets of her husband's fortune." The Jerusalem Post also seizes on similar reports about Mrs Arafat as evidence of deeper corruption within the Palestinian authority.)

Left Bank of the Charles said...

There's the great Onion headline about the sinking of the Titanic, "World's Largest Metaphor Hits Ice-berg".

sinz52 said...

The Post headline "Ford to City: Drop Dead" became so much a part of modern culture that it was satirized (or alluded to) in the movie "Superman IV." The Daily Planet has been turned into a tabloid:

http://www.joblo.com/newsimages1/drop%20dead.jpg

Quaestor said...

My favorite headline won't be printed for several more centuries.
Fox Exex Bax Sex Pix, Flix Lax Crux Bux, Stox Sinx, Ax Prex"

Quaestor said...

I once executed a grandmother in my pajamas. How she came to be wearing my pajamas I'll never know.

D.D. Driver said...

My favorite headline of all time came from the Badger Herald of all places: Turnout Low For Apathy Forum.

Mnemosyne's Notebook said...

Gahrie -


Now I'm sheepish.

Browndog said...

Darkness...has descended upon Althouse Blog-

Read through the past entries...

Meade- take her camping, a road trip, buy her flowers, sing her a song...or run for your life!

Lem said...

Imus had one of the best NY Post headlines of all time...

'Marv Albert Found Tied To Dead Dominatrix'... not verbatim but something close to that.

Turns out Marv's phone number was in the dead dominatrix little black book. It was nothing like what the career ending headline insinuated.

Imus found it amusing enough to re-tell the tale every once in a while.

Quaestor said...

The Granny executed in her pink pajamas was Velma Barfield who murdered at least four people by arsenic poisoning, and possibly two others. She was the first woman to be executed by lethal injection on 2 November 1984. Her last meal was Cheez Doodles and Coke.

rcommal said...

Writing headlines for a physical newspaper way back to just even then, in 1983, was no easy task. I think that those who celebrate that headline yet don't instantly get what I just said truly don't--maybe can't--understand what an achievement Musetto's hed was.

R.I.P., Vincent Musetto.

rcommal said...

I'm going to give you all a hint here:

Look, see, think.