“Pete was really one of the good guys,” said Denis Hamill.
Pete Hamill was one of the city’s last major crusader columnists and ties to the journalism days of typewriter chatter and smoky jokes, a tough and sentimental Irish-American who pertained to the oppressed and mingled with the elite. Well read, well balanced and very well connected, Hamill was comfortable quoting poetry and Ernest Hemingway, hanging out with Jacqueline Onassis or having a drink and a cigarette at the old Lion’s Head Tavern in Greenwich Village.
His subjects ranged from baseball, politics, murder, boxing and riots to the wars in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Lebanon and Ireland. But he still looked back to the New York City he grew up in, a pre-digital era best remembered through the dreamlike landscape of black-and-white photography – a New York of egg custard and subway rides. at five hundred, stickball and broad-brimmed games. hats, when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn and there were more daily papers than you could count with one hand.
“I have the native son’s irrational love for the place,” Hamill wrote in his 2004 book, Downtown: My Manhattan. “New York is a city of daily irritations, the occasional horror, tests of willpower and even courage every hour, and huge dollops of sheer beauty.”
A Brooklyn-born dropout, Hamill was a columnist for the New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Village Voice, New York magazine, and Esquire. He has written screenplays, several novels and a successful memoir, A Drinking Life.
“Pete Hamill has been an inspiration to generations of journalists who have reveled in his unique style of storytelling and his talents as a writer and truth-telling reporter to power,” the New York Press said. Club in a press release.
His 2003 novel, Forever, tells the story of Cormac O’Connor, an Irish Jew who arrived in New York City in 1740 and was granted eternal life as long as he remained on Manhattan Island. His novels Snow in August and The North River also served as nostalgic and critically acclaimed tales of old New York City.
His memoir spans his childhood in Brooklyn until the night he gave up drinking on a New Years Eve party in 1972.
“Pete was a journalism giant, quintessential New Yorker and a personal friend of my father and myself,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “I learned a lot from him and he inspired me. Pete’s death will leave a hole in the hearts of New Yorkers.
Hamill had a brief and disheartening turn in editing the New York Post. When financier Steven Hoffenberg took over the tabloid in bankruptcy proceedings, he hired Hamill as editor in 1993. Hamill quickly hired four black journalists and promoted a number of women and minorities, his colleague recalled. columnist Jack Newfield in his memoirs. , Someone has to tell.
But when Hoffenberg couldn’t buy the paper, the property fell to Abe Hirschfeld, who fired Hamill. The newspaper staff revolted, publishing a mutiny edition that kept Hamill’s name on the masthead as he watched from a nearby restaurant. Hirschfeld rehired Hamill, giving him a kiss that the hardened journalist called “the most ignominious moment of my life.”
Rupert Murdoch ultimately bought the newspaper, which resulted in Hamill’s dismissal. A few years later, Hamill had a brief stint as the editor of the Post’s main rival, the New York Daily News. He also worked for a few months in 1987 as editor of Mexico City News.
Hamill feared journalism had become too celebrity-centric, but he was familiar with some of the most famous people of his time. He met the Beatles before performing in the United States, interviewed John Lennon when the ex-Beatle lived in Manhattan, hung out with Frank Sinatra and the Rolling Stones, and won a Grammy for his voice acting ratings on Blood On the Tracks by Bob Dylan. .
Hamill lived with Shirley MacLaine, dated Onassis, and was related to Linda Ronstadt, Susan Sontag, and Barbra Streisand, among others.
As a young man, Hamill was a passionate Liberal. His open letter to Robert Kennedy helped persuade the senator to run for president, and Hamill was one of the few people to wrest the gun from Kennedy’s assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, in 1968 at the hotel. Ambassador of Los Angeles.
Hamill has found his way onto President Richard Nixon’s “enemy list”. In one column, Hamill said the president shared the blame for the 1970 shootings at Kent State University by calling campus dissidents “bums.” Vice-President Spiro Agnew called the column “irrational delusions,” and Hamill borrowed the expression for the title of a collection of his columns in 1971.
In a 1969 column for New York magazine, The Revolt of the White Lower Middle Class, he seemed to anticipate the rise of Donald Trump as he warned of men “standing around saloons, darkly talking about their lives. grievances, and even more gloomily possible remedies. Their grievances are real and deep; their remedies could blow up this town.
In a 1991 Esquire column, he criticized blacks for blaming everything on whites. “You’ve gone on the defensive in clichés of casual racism,” he wrote in Letter to a Black Friend, a column published in Esquire in 1991.
Hamill’s first marriage, to Ramona Negron, ended in divorce. He retained primary custody of his two daughters, Adrienne and Deirdre.
In 1986, Hamill married Japanese journalist Fukiko Aoki, whom he met while touring Japan to promote his short story collection, Tokyo Sketches.
In 2019, Hamill and one of his greatest contemporaries, Jimmy Breslin, were featured in the HBO documentary Deadline Artists.
Born William Peter Hamill on June 24, 1935, he was the oldest of seven children of immigrants from Northern Ireland. His brother Denis is a novelist and columnist for the Daily News.
At 16, Pete Hamill got bored of high school, dropped out and went to work as a sheet metal worker in the Brooklyn Shipyard, while honing his skills as a comic artist on the side. In the yard, he developed dormant tuberculosis.
While in the Navy, Hamill graduated from high school. He attended Mexico City College in 1956.
Back in New York, Hamill opened a graphic design store in Hell’s Kitchen. After reading a 1960 memoir by Post editor Jimmy Wechsler, the young Hamill wrote to Wechsler, saying the papers had no place for people like him – the working class, no Ivy degrees. League. The editor suggested a meeting.
“He took me to his inner office and I sat down next to a desk littered with newspaper clippings, magazines, letters from readers, copies of his book,” Hamill later wrote. “While we were talking, he was smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. Towards the end of our conversation, he leaned back in his chair and put his hands behind his head. “Have you ever thought about becoming a journalist?”