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Ernest Cuneo
Date of birth May 27, 1905
Place of birth Carlstadt, New Jersey
Date of death March 1988
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight 192 pounds (87.1 kg)
Position(s) Fullback, Guard, Halfback
College Columbia
Penn State
Orange Tornadoes
Brooklyn Dodgers

Ernest L. Cuneo was a lawyer, newspaperman, author, and intelligence liaison. He was also a professional football player in the National Football League.



Cuneo was also a star athlete in high school and later played football at Columbia and Penn State University. Afterwards, he played two seasons in the NFL for the Orange Tornadoes and the Brooklyn Dodgers.


Cuneo's first newspaper experience was as editor of the school newspaper at East Rutherford High School. During his college vacations, Cuneo worked for the New York Daily News. He later served as president of the North American Newspaper Alliance and was later editor-at-large of the Saturday Evening Post. For a number of years he wrote a syndicated column, "Take It or Leave It," which appeared three times a week. The success of the column led to an offer to take over the "National Whirligig," the original "news behind the news" column which appeared five days a week. Cuneo also wrote several books. His writings also appeared in several articles posted by the Professional Football Researchers Association. These writing reflected on Cuneo's own experiences in the NFL, as well as his friendship with Pro Football Hall of Famer, Benny Friedman.

According to Neal Gabler, from the mid-1930's on, Cuneo not only acted as a liaison between Franklin Roosevelt and Walter Winchell, but he frequently wrote long political items for the Winchell column[1].

Law and politics

After acquiring his law degree, Cuneo became law secretary to Fiorello LaGuardia, who was then a congressman representing New York. During this time, he would brief LaGuardia on the investigations of judicial malpractice and fraudulent bankruptcies. In 1936, James Farley appointed him associate general counsel of the Democratic National Committee. He would later represent Walter Winchell.

World War II

When World War II began, General William Donovan, who was head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), appointed Cuneo a liaison officer between the OSS, British Intelligence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Department of State, and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. While working with Donovan and British Intelligence, Cuneo became acquainted with James Bond creator, Ian Fleming. A close friendship developed between the two men. Fleming later credited Cuneo with more than half the plot for Goldfinger and all of the basic plot for Thunderball; the dedication of the former novel reads, "To Ernest Cuneo, Muse." For his service during the war, Cuneo was decorated by Italy, Great Britain, and the City of Genoa.


  1. ^ Neal Gabler, Walter Winchell: Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity (1995)


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