Jimmy Breslin, the Pulitzer-winning reporter and columnist whose life was as outsized as the New York City characters he depicted and exposed in print, died Sunday at the age of 88.
He died in his Manhattan home from complications from pneumonia, according to the New York Daily News.
The Queens native — who never shook his accent from that borough — became a fixture of big-city journalism, primarily for the New York Daily News, by championing the little guy.
He also was the source of both scoops and controversy through the years. In the summer of 1977, he reported on letters he received from “Son of Sam” serial killer, David Berkowitz. After getting a late night call in 1980 about John Lennon’s murder, he located the police officers who had responded to the call and got their account into the next day’s paper.
He also exposed one of the city’s worst corruption scandals in the ’80s, and was pulled from a car during riots in Brooklyn in the 1990s and stripped to his underwear.
In 1986, he won both the Pulitzer Prize for commentary and the George Polk Award for metropolitan reporting.
Breslin became a best-selling author and, at one point in 1969, mounted a high-profile and curious bid for public office, running for city council president on a ticket with fellow author Norman Mailer as the mayoral candidate. They both lost — badly.
But it was a rare setback for a writer who had a knack for finding an angle on stories that others might miss. His first major success in that regard came in 1963 when he was sent to cover the funeral of John F. Kennedy and wrote about the man who dug the late president’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery, Clifton Pollard.
For the record: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported his age at death. According to a New York Daily News check of his birth certificate, he was 88 and not 87.