Jimmy Breslin, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York columnist, dies at 88

Jimmy Breslin smokes a cigar outside the Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C., in 1973. (Washington Post photo by Ellsworth Davis)
Jimmy Breslin smokes a cigar outside the Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C., in 1973. (Washington Post photo by Ellsworth Davis)

LOS ANGELES — Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist-author Jimmy Breslin, the surly, hard-nosed New Yorker whose life was as outsize as his own characters’, died on Sunday. He was 88.

Breslin died in his Manhattan home due to complications of pneumonia, his personal physician told the New York Daily News.

With his brash, street smart take on the city, Breslin was a fixture in New York journalism for more than 40 years, mostly with the New York Daily News. He also wrote for Newsday, the New York Herald Tribune, and the New York Journal American.

In 1977, the infamous so-called Son of Sam killer, David Berkowitz, wrote to Breslin, launching a regular correspondence and a series of columns that offered insights to a terrified city.

“The night he got arrested, I walked into the courtroom in Queens and he pointed at me [and] said, ‘There’s Jimmy Breslin, my friend,’ “ Breslin said. “‘What was that? Shoot him,’ I said.”

Breslin was often able to offer New Yorkers an unconventional take on the current events that dominated headlines. As reporters rushed for a straightforward take on President John F. Kennedy’s funeral, for example, Breslin wrote about the event from the gravedigger’s point of view.

He’s survived by his wife, Ronnie Eldridge.

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