Anthony Scaduto: The Bad and The Beautiful
Reporter-author Tony Scaduto covered the bad and the beautiful — from Maffia dons to masterful musicians like Bob Dylan and the Beatles and celebrities like Marilyn Monroe.
Born in Brooklyn in 1932, he got a job as a part-time copy boy at the New York Post to help pay for his Brooklyn College tuition, but quit school after two years. “I was getting a better education on the streets of New York than I’d ever get in college,” he said in 1975.
His coverage of the police included a much-praised 1964 series on the NYPD that, said The New York Times in 2017, “captured the tensions of that time, dynamics still evident a half-century later.”
Covering crime — especially the mob — was one of Scaduto’s specialties at the Post. He grew up in a Brooklyn neighborhood controlled by the Maffia and, coming home from playing baseball one day when he was 12, saw the victim of a mob hit on the sidewalk in front of his friend’s house.
After 20 years at The Post, he left to focus on freelancing, mostly books, the first of which was Bob Dylan: An Intimate Biography, published in 1972. It’s journalistic look at Dylan’s life and work has received much acclaim over the years. Among its fans was Dylan himself. “I like your book,” the singer-songwriter told Scaduto after reading the manuscript when it was 80% complete. “That’s the weird thing about it.” Scaduto had allowed Dylan to see the incomplete manuscript if Dylan would consent to giving a rare interview. Dylan did.
In 1976, Scaduto produced Scapegoat: The Lonesome Death of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, an investigation into the trial of the man who was executed in 1936 for kidnapping and killing the Lindbergh baby. He found evidence had been withheld and witnesses were untruthful, leading to a likely wrong conviction.
He also wrote biographies of Mick Jagger, Frank Sinatra, mobster Lucky Luciano, and the Beatles plus many articles for Playboy, Penthouse, Rolling Stone, and Newsday, the Long Island newspaper. He also wrote a 1988 novel, A Terrible Time to Die.
Scaduto may have been introduced to Ridgefield in the early 1970s when he came to town to write an article for The Post about the growing battle over the use of certain books in the schools — part of the so-called “book burning.” In 1973, he moved to 125 Grandview Drive. “I was tired of New York City and its craziness,” he said.
Eventually, he apparently missed his old stomping grounds — by 1980, he had moved back to Brooklyn where he wrote many pieces for Newsday.
He died in 2017, age 85. —Jack Sanders