MIDTOWN — Jimmy Breslin, the dogged city newspaper columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner who chronicled crime and corruption across the boroughs for the better part of six decades, died Sunday. He was 88.
The exact cause was unknown, but he had been recovering from pneumonia, according to reports.
Breslin penned brash-talking prose for the New York Herald Tribune, the Daily News, Newsday and the New York Post that kept politicians on edge and struck a deep chord with underdog New Yorkers.
But it was his 1963 column on Clifton Pollard, who dug the grave for assassinated President John F. Kennedy, that garnered him national acclaim.
“Pollard is 42. He is a slim man with a mustache who was born in Pittsburgh and served as a private in the 352nd Engineers battalion in Burma in World War II. He is an equipment operator, grade 10, which means he gets $3.01 an hour. One of the last to serve John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was the thirty-fifth President of this country, was a working man who earns $3.01 an hour and said it was an honor to dig the grave.”
Breslin told The New York Times in 2013 that he never even read the column after it ran.
“You just go on to the next one,” he said. “What — am I going to read it and extol myself? I worked for a living. It’s, ‘Where’s the bar?’ and you keep going.”
He won the 1986 Pulitzer for commentary for his writing on the AIDS epidemic.
Nine years before, he received a letter from famed serial killer Son of Sam reading, “P.S.: JB, Please inform all the detectives working the case that I wish them the best of luck,” according to The Times.
Breslin once said, “Of course I would betray a friend for the biggest story of the year.”
He is survived by his wife Ronnie Eldridge, a former Manhattan city councilwoman, and by his four sons, according to The Times.