Jimmy Breslin, who died Sunday at 88, was a central character of New York journalism, notably with the New York Daily News. Breslin won a Pulitzer Prize for some amazing articles which include his works exposing police harassment in Queens.
Of his remarkable works, the most impressive was an interview with Clifton Pollard, the man tasked with digging John F. Kennedy’s grave on the morning of his funeral. His inexhaustible writing skills have summed up to some of the finest pieces of literature. Be it the story on AIDS awareness where he narrates a story of one man suffering from the disease, the stories of “regular,” working-class New Yorkers or penning down the perspective of that Beatles fan, who was the unfortunate cop on the day of John Lennon’s assassination.
“He was the triumph of the local, and to get the local right, you have to get how people made a living, how they got paid, how they didn’t get paid, and to be able to bring it to life,” said Pete Hamill, another famed New York columnist who in the 1970s shared an office with Breslin at the Daily News.
“Jimmy really admired people whose favorite four-letter word was work,” said Hamill, speaking from New Orleans.
Breslin, an accomplished author of books like The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, Damon Runyon: A Life, and I Want To Thank My Brain For Remember Me. His fame put aside he was also a very controversial figure when in the journalism world. Breslin, not only has he reluctantly admitted that he would betray his friend for a big story, he has also gone on a racist tirade against a Korean-American colleague in the ‘90s after she said one of his stories was sexist, prompting him to eventually issue an apology that said, “I am no good, and once again I can prove it.”
Breslin, who begun as a news columnist in 1963, died at his Manhattan home of complications from pneumonia, according to his stepdaughter, Emily Eldridge.