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Vale Peter Blake, a journalist who did it all

Peter Blake, a journalist of the old school who founded one of Sydney’s most infamous publications, has died in New York at the age 84.

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Colourful bookmaker, journalist and publishing pioneer Peter Blake’s adventures took him from the heart of Sydney’s Kings Cross to New York City.

One of the co-founders of the notorious 1960s Sydney newspaper The Kings Cross Whisper, Blake was patriarch of a media dynasty that continues to this day.

His death at 84 this month at Mt Sinai Hospice in New York closed the chapter on a life that was devoted to family and journalism.

Blake was born in Melbourne, Australia, on St Patrick’s Day, 1932.

The eldest of four children to Win and Melbourne racing writer Bill Blake, he started his journalism career as a copyboy at The Age followed by a cadetship at The Sun News-Pictorial. He worked for the ABC in Brisbane and moved to Sydney in the 1950s.

With a hard news sense, command of the language and extraordinary range of general knowledge, he worked for Sydney daily and Sunday papers for many years. In the 1960s, he joined his younger brother Terry’s band of local larrikins to help create The Kings Cross Whisper, a satirical newspaper that helped launch the careers of many young creatives, among them Barry Humphries, Max Cullen and his artist brother Cul (Fred) Cullen.

Later he moved to Hong Kong where he was chief sub-editor at the (English-language) Star, before a stint as a bookmaker at Fannie Bay racecourse in Darwin was cut short by Cyclone Tracy. Peter was a founder and the editor of the weekly Darwin Star in 1976 as a cheeky competitor to the NT News.

He moved soon afterwards to the US to work on The Star, a celebrity US tabloid launched by Rupert Murdoch, before commencing at The New York Post.

Blake made a home at Roosevelt Island with wife Claire and daughter Rebecca.

The Blakes became a Sydney news clan: among them Peter’s brothers Terry and Patrick, while his sister Julie Flannery co-founded Media Monitors.

Some of their children are also in the media and Peter’s nephew Sam de Brito was a noted columnist and author who died last year.

Peter is survived by Claire, Rebecca and grandchildren Ryan, Max and Summer.

* This obituary was first published in The Daily Telegraph, and appears courtesy of News Corp Australia.

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