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Jimmy Breslin (1928 - 2017)

AP Photo / Jim Cooper

Jimmy Breslin (1928 - 2017)

Jimmy Breslin, a legendary New York City newspaper columnist, died March 19, 2017, according to multiple news sources. He was 88

Breslin died Sunday morning, according to family and friends.

The hard-nosed columnist for the Daily News won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1986. Before his stint at the Daily News, Breslin wrote for The News, Newsday, the New York Herald Tribune, and New York Journal American.

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Breslin was born Oct. 17, 1928, in Jamaica, Queens. He attended Long Island University, and his first job was as a weekly columnist for the Long Island Press.

Breslin’s columns reflected the lives of New York City’s ordinary residents. He was known for going into the city’s bars and talking with politicians and everyday people. One of his most talked about columns was published the day after President John F. Kennedy’s funeral. Breslin wrote about the man who had the job of digging out the president’s grave.

His street-smart investigative journalism led him to encounters with the Mafia. In 1970, he was attacked and beaten by mobster Jimmy Burke. Burke was unhappy about a column Breslin had written about fellow mobster Paul Vario.

During the summer of 1977, when Son of Sam serial killer David Berkowitz was frightening the citizens of New York, Berkowitz wrote letters to Breslin. His columns on Berkowitz offered insight into the mind of the serial killer. Breslin recounted strolling into a courtroom in Queens when Berkowitz was arrested.

“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.’ ‘What was that? Shoot him,’ I said.”

Asked in a 2012 interview what he aimed for as a journalist, Breslin replied, “To please a reader: me.”

“I didn’t care about anybody else,” Breslin said. “If I thought it was humorous if it made me smile, I put it in. I wrote it in the paper and didn’t care what anyone thought.”

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