Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin – who gave voice to regular New Yorkers – has died at the age of 88.
What was the cause of death?
Breslin died of pneumonia, according to The New York Daily News, which ran his columns for years. The Daily News called Breslin a “cigar-chomping, hard-nosed newspaperman.”
“Jimmy Breslin was a furious, funny, outrageous and caring voice of the people who made newspaper writing into literature,” said Daily News Editor-in-Chief Arthur Browne in a story by the newspaper.
In an internet age, he was a bit of a throwback, famously hitting New York’s streets looking for stories of ordinary people.
As The New York Times put it, Breslin “elevated the powerless for 50 years.”
He was married to Ronnie Eldridge, a Democratic politician, who confirmed his death, and he died at his Manhattan home, according to The Times.
The New York Times listed one of his most famous columns as the 1963 piece called “gravedigger.” It was about the man who dug the grave for President John F. Kennedy. NBC News reports that the gravedigger’s name was Clifton Pollard, and the column became much emulated.
This is how that column started, and it was signature Breslin, by highlighting the voices of those overlooked:
Washington — Clifton Pollard was pretty sure he was going to be working on Sunday, so when he woke up at 9 a.m., in his three-room apartment on Corcoran Street, he put on khaki overalls before going into the kitchen for breakfast. His wife, Hettie, made bacon and eggs for him. Pollard was in the middle of eating them when he received the phone call he had been expecting. It was from Mazo Kawalchik, who is the foreman of the gravediggers at Arlington National Cemetery, which is where Pollard works for a living. “Polly, could you please be here by eleven o’clock this morning?” Kawalchik asked. “I guess you know what it’s for.” Pollard did. He hung up the phone, finished breakfast, and left his apartment so he could spend Sunday digging a grave for John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
His last columns for the New York Daily News came in 2012, but he continued writing at times for The Daily Beast, reported Huffington Post.
Breslin was also an author. The Associated Press reported that Breslin “had two daughters and four sons with his first wife, Rosemary, who died of cancer in 1981.” His wife also has three children.