ALBANY — Marty Steadman of Garden City, a widely respected spokesman to former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who excelled in the confrontational world of New York journalism and politics with a quiet demeanor, died on May 31. He was 91.

Steadman was widely seen as the steady, low-key hand who helped guide and soften the outsized character of Cuomo. One running gag was their public jabs at each other over the fantasy baseball team they jointly ran, the Queens Alliance, and grumbles over bad trades and whose fault they were.

“He was considered a real pro and did a good job for Mario,” recalled H. Carl McCall, the former chairman of the State University of New York Board of Trustees, state comptroller and state senator. “He was a guy who was very accessible, and he and the governor were very close.

“He would give you a straight answer about what you wanted to know about the governor,” McCall told Newsday.

Cuomo appointed Steadman to be his chief spokesman and personal counsel in 1984. Steadman replaced Tim Russert, who left Albany and became moderator of “Meet the Press.”

Steadman had a solid reputation in New York in journalism and in public relations at the time. He had been an award-winning reporter for the now-defunct Journal-American in the 1950s and Herald Tribune in the 1960s. He moved to WCBS-TV and was an investigative reporter into the early 1970s.

He interviewed Presidents Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson; Gov. Nelson Rockefeller; Yankee stars Joe DiMaggio and Casey Stengel as well as hockey great Wayne Gretzky. He covered Kennedy’s 1963 assassination for the Herald Tribune.

He ran for a losing race for Congress in 1966, but the experience aided his ability to operate in the political world. He worked with Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Govs. Hugh Carey, George Pataki, David A. Paterson and Andrew M. Cuomo. He also worked in public relations, handling clients including the New York Yankees.

He was well remembered by some of the leading journalists at the time who covered Mario Cuomo in Albany.

“Marty loved to tell stories,” said Marc Humbert, former political editor of The Associated Press in Albany. “And while reporters might frown when Steadman sidestepped their questions, he could generally put a smile on their faces with an anecdote from his days covering an earlier generation of pols.”

David Ernst, who worked in Albany for The Buffalo News, remembered Steadman’s style as a departure from some press secretaries who engaged in an adversarial relationship with reporters.

“I never knew of him berating or bullying people to get the result he or his boss wanted,” Ernst said.

Steadman was a member of the Inner Circle Press Club and president of the prestigious Silurians Press Club.

In public relations, Steadman was known as a gentleman in what can be a torrid environment.

“His passing is a reflection of an era that has gone by — when people in newsrooms like the Herald Tribune that had the knowledge of what a good story was then used that knowledge in public relations,” said Gary Lewi, managing director of the Rubenstein communications and lobbying firm. “It was never supposed to be about you, but it was always about your client … He was part of a generation of publicists who came out of journalism where he would find today’s level of self-promotion disorienting.”

Steadman grew up in Sunnyside, Queens, and graduated from the University of Miami. His wife, Peggy, died six years ago. He is survived by a son, James M. Steadman, and two granddaughters. James Steadman said the cause of death was simply “a well-lived 91 years.”

A wake continued Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Fairchild Funeral Home, 1201 Franklin Ave., Garden City. A funeral Mass will be celebrated Tuesday at 10 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Church at 130 Fifth St., Garden City. Burial will follow at Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton.

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