Monday, June 17, 2024

Jimmy Breslin, Legendary NY Newspaper Columnist, Reporter, Dies Age 86 or 88


It’s almost fitting that no one can get Jimmy Breslin’s age right today. A reporter who lived on precision and fact, Breslin is pegged by the New York Times as 88, Wikipedia as 86, the Daily News (his longtime employer) at 87.

Jimmy Breslin was ageless. We flew on the same plane to the Democratic convention in Denver in 2008. Let’s say he was almost 78 years old. We arrived at the Denver Sheraton around 9pm and they’d sent all the porters home. It was two nights before the convention was going to begin, so they didn’t think they’d need any. (Denver– another story altogether.) I helped Jimmy carry in his and his wife’s bags. He was as raring to go as any young reporter. After all, I don’t think he’d missed a convention in 50 years. This one was probably his last.

I knew Jimmy a little from Elaine’s, and from various events I covered. He was larger than life, from all his reporting, and from Son of Sam in 1977. And from fighting with Norman Mailer but running with him for mayor against John Lindsay in 1969. Pretty much from the 60s into the 90s and almost up to 2008, Jimmy Breslin was the voice of New York. No one ever eclipsed him.

One of Robert DeNiro’s first movie roles was in “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” adapted from Breslin’s 1969 novel about mobsters who couldn’t get anything right. The book was a hit, the movie was so-so, but the title outlasted everything. That title is used as headline or comment constantly for the last 40 years whenever any group of anything screws up. So Jimmy leaves that as a legacy as well as his Pulitzer, his other accolades, and all the regular people he wrote about. He illuminated our lives. I was happy– eager– and honored– to carry his bags that night.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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