Jimmy Breslin was a surly, iconic Pulitzer-prize winner working in a New York newspaper column as a columnist and he was also the one to cover the funeral of President John F. Kennedy from the grave digger’s perspective and also corresponded with the “Son of Sam” killer, died on Sunday, many newspaper outlets reported.
He was 86-years-old.
The cause of his death is not known, and he’s survived by his wife, Ronnie Eldridge.
Jimmy Breslin was 86
Jimmy was born in Queens and he worked for almost every newspaper that is there with the New York zip code, including the New York Daily News, Newsday, The New York Herald Tribune and The New York Journal American. But he was best known for his work as a distinctly working class New York columnist and he was also a gifted novelist who had turned into a screenwriter and playwright.
His column on, “Digging JFK’s grave was his honor,” was published in The New York Herald Tribune in November in 1963. While most if the other writers went over to cover the assassinated president’s funeral from a controversial perspective, Breslin took the opposite direction, taking the reader through the perspective of Kennedy‘s grave digger, Clifton Pollard.
“Clifton Pollard wasn’t at the funeral,” Breslin wrote. “He was over behind the hill, digging graves for $3.01 an hour in another section of the cemetery. He didn’t know who the graves were for. He was just digging them and then covering them with boards.”
In 1977, the serial killer “Son of Sam”, David Berkowitz wrote to Breslin and it became the topic of many columns that were written based on the psychotic killer for The New York Daily News.
“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,'” Breslin said, according to The New York Daily News. “‘What was that? Shoot him,’ I said.”
As to his motivation, the answer you received depended on when you asked Breslin the question.
Once he said: “Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers.”
Another time: “To please a reader: me.”
He was one of the best columnist in the history of New York, gifted in the talent of words and will be sorely missed.