Jimmy Breslin, Legendary New York City Newspaper Columnist, Dies at 88

Jimmy Breslin in 1970. Credit Michael Evans/The New York Times

Jimmy Breslin, the New York City newspaper columnist and best-selling
author who leveled the powerful and elevated the powerless for more than
50 years with brick-hard words and a jagged-glass wit, died on Sunday.
He was 88, and until very recently, was still pushing somebody’s buttons
with two-finger jabs at his keyboard.

His death was confirmed by his wife, Ronnie Eldridge, a prominent Manhattan Democrat.
Mr. Breslin had been recovering from pneumonia.

With prose that was savagely funny, deceptively simple and poorly imitated, Mr. Breslin
created his own distinct rhythm in the hurly-burly music of newspapers. Here, for example,
is how he described Clifton Pollard, the man who dug President John F. Kennedy’s grave,
in a celebrated Herald Tribune column from 1963 that sent legions of journalists to find
their “gravedigger”:

“Pollard is forty-two. 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.”

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