Legendary Columnist Jimmy Breslin Dies at 88

Jimmy Breslin, regarded by many contemporaries as the greatest American newspaper columnist, died Sunday morning at home in New York City. He was 88. The author of nine books, including “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” Breslin inspired generations of journalists with his front-page columns in The Herald-Tribune, New York Daily News and Newsday. The Queens native was famed for finding uncommon angles to breaking news such as the assassination and burial of JFK, the murder of John Lennon and the hunt for the serial killer known as “The Son of Sam.” He won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1986 and declared, “Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers.” He achieved an unusual degree of celebrity for a newsman, hosting Saturday Night Live and serving as a pitchman for Piels beer. His last story—an excerpt from an unfinished autobiographical novel—was published in The Daily Beast.

—John Avlon