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According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author Jimmy Breslin has died of complications from pneumonia. He was 88.

Breslin was best known for the way heā€™d highlight the stories of ā€œregular,ā€ working-class New Yorkers who would otherwise fade into the background of bigger news events. He covered the AIDS epidemic in the ā€˜80s by telling the story of one man dying of the disease, for example, and he wrote about the death of John Lennon from the perspective of a cop on duty that night who happened to be a lifelong Beatles fan. One of his most famous pieces was a 1963 profile of Clifton Pollard, the man tasked with digging John F. Kennedyā€™s grave on the morning of his funeral.


Breslin was born in Queens in 1928, and his early columns were based on stories heā€™d pick up from people in bars. As his reputation grew, he hopped around the various New York-based newspapers and tabloids, including The Daily News, New York Magazine, Newsday, and the long-defunct The New York Journal-American. By the ā€˜70s, Breslinā€™s columns were so popular that he could count David Berkowitzā€”Son Of Sam himselfā€”as one of his fans, with Berkowitz even mailing letters directly to Breslin while still terrorizing the city.

Fame and accolades aside, Breslin was also an occasionally controversial figure. He had a penchant for self-promotion and would freely admit to betraying the trust of friends if it meant landing a big story. He also went on a racist tirade against a Korean-American colleague in the ā€˜90s after she said one of his stories was sexist, prompting him to eventually issue an apology that said, ā€œI am no good, and once again I can prove it.ā€

Breslin was also an accomplished author, writing The Gang That Couldnā€™t Shoot Straight, Damon Runyon: A Life, and I Want To Thank My Brain For Remember Me. Over at the Daily News website, the paper has posted a short retrospective on some of Breslinā€™s most important and memorable columns.