Jimmy Breslin, an award-winning New York Daily News columnist celebrated for his insights into the lives of everyday New Yorkers, died Sunday, the outlet confirmed. He was 88.
He had been recovering from pneumonia, his wife Ronnie Eldridge, a former New York City Council member, confirmed to the The New York Times.
In his decades-spanning career writing for several outlets, Breslin found fame for his portrayals of ordinary New Yorkers and the city’s scruffy anti-heroes, often those at the sidelines of major world news events.In a 1980 Daily News story, Breslin told the story of the New York City cops who retrieved John Lennon’s body moments after he’d been fatally shot. For an iconic 1963 column in The New York Herald Tribune, he tracked down the cemetery worker tasked with digging President John F. Kennedy’s grave.
His last column for the Daily News ran in but The Daily Beast began running new writing from him late last year after years of reprinting his classic columns.
The gravedigger is oft-cited as the type of writing that made Breslin the legendary storyteller he’s remembered as.
“[I]t showed how a writer can break away from the crowd, even on the biggest possible story; how, in the words of the great editor Gene Roberts, an enterprising reporter can zig when everyone else zags,” the Poynter Institute for Media Studies wrote.
He received many awards for his writing, most notably the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1986.
Breslin also authored several lauded books, including The Church That Forgot Christ, a response to the Catholic Church’s many sex scandals; How the Good Guys Finally Won, a glimpse into the politicians who helped bring down President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal; and a novel, The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.
In 1969, Breslin ran as writer Norman Mailer’s running mate in an unsuccessful New York mayoral bid.
Their campaign manager described the ill-fated run as “a dull campaign in a sad city with a grimace of despair carved into its face. Mailer and Breslin managed, for a short season, to turn that grimace into a grin.”
He is survived by his wife, four children, three stepchildren and twelve grandchildren.
Correction: This article has been updated to correct Jimmy Breslin’s age. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.