Pete Hamill, Famous New York Newspaper Columnist, Dies at 85 | American News


Pete Hamill, the self-taught and streetwise columnist whose love affair with New York City inspired a colorful and particularly influential journalistic career and produced several fiction and non-fiction books, died Wednesday morning. He was 85 years old.Hamill died in a Brooklyn hospital from heart and kidney failure, his brother Denis confirmed in an email.

“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.

Pete Hamill at Skylight Diner in New York, 2007. Photo: Bebeto Matthews / AP

“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.


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