New York newspaper columnist, Pete Hamill died in New York at the age of 85


Pete Hamill, a self-taught, roadside newspaper columnist whose love affair with New York inspired a colorful and uniquely influential journalism career and produced many books of fiction and non-fiction, Wednesday morning died. He was 85.

Hamil died of heart and kidney failure at a Brooklyn hospital, his brother Dennis confirmed in an email.

“Pete was one of the really good people,” Dennis Hamill said.

Pete Hamill was one of the city’s last great crusading columnists and had ties to dirty typewriters and smoked-full bankers in journalism days, an Irish-American both strict and passionate who belonged to the Dalit and mingled with the elite . Well-read, well-rounded and very well-connected, on Hamill poetry and quotes from Ernest Hemingway, dating Jacqueline Onassis or enjoying a drink and a cigarette at the Old Lion’s flagship inn in Greenery Village Were staying.

His subjects ranged from baseball, politics, assassination, boxing and riots to the wars of Vietnam, Nicaragua, Lebanon and Ireland. But he would always appear in New York, he had grown up, a pre-digital era that is best remembered through the dreamscape of black and white photography – egg cream and five-century rides, stickball games and widening -Inted New York hat, when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn and had more than one daily paper you could count with one hand.

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

Hamil wrote in his 2004 book, Downtown: My Manhattan, “I have an irrational love for the natives of this place. “New York is a city of daily troubles, occasional horrors, hour-long tests of will and even courage, and huge dollops of pure beauty.”

Born in Brooklyn, high school dropout, Hamill was a columnist for the New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Village Voice, New York magazine and Esquire. He wrote screenplays, several novels and a bestselling memoir, A Drinking Life.

“Pete Hamill was an inspiration to reporters, inspiring his unique style of storytelling and his gifts as a writer and reporter,” the New York Press Club said in a statement.

His 2003 novel Forever tells the story of Kormack O’Connor, an Irish Jew who comes to New York in 1740 and is given eternal life as long as he lives on the island of Manhattan. In August, his novels Snow and the North River also featured nostalgic and critically acclaimed tales of old New York.

Her memoir includes her childhood in Brooklyn, when she drank alcohol at a New Year’s Eve party in 1972.

“Pete was a giant of journalism, a quintessential New Yorker and a personal friend to my father and myself,” Andrew P. Cuomo said in a statement. “I learned a lot from him and he inspired me. Pete’s death is about to leave a hole in the hearts of New Yorkers. “

The New York Post’s editing in Hamill was brief and disappointing. He hired Hemil as editor-in-chief in 1993 when financier Steven Hoffenberg gained control of tabloid in bankruptcy proceedings. Hamill quickly hired four black journalists and promoted many women and minorities, remembering his fellow columnist Jack Newfield in his memoir. , Someone must tell it.

But when Hoffenberg was unable to buy the paper, ownership fell to Abe Hirschfeld, who fired Hemil. The paper’s staff revolted, publishing a mutant version that named Hamill at the masthead, as he supervised from a nearby dinner. Hirschfeld Hamill rehired, giving him a kiss that the rude reporter called “the most embarrassing moment of my life”.

Rupert Murdoch eventually bought the paper, leading to Hemil’s dismissal. A few years later, Hamill spent a short stint as editor-in-chief of the Post’s arch rival, the New York Daily News. He also served as editor of Mexico City News in 1987 for a few months.

Hamill worried that journalism had become too focused on celebrities, but he was well acquainted with some of the most famous people of his time. He met the Beatles before he played in the US, interviewing John Lennon when the ex-Beatle was living in Manhattan, staying out with Frank Sinatra and the Rolling Stones, and for his liner notes on Bob Dillon’s Blood Won a Grammy. .

Hemil Shirley lived with McLane, dated Onassis and was joined by Linda Ronstad, Susan Sontag and Barbara Strisand, among others.

As a youth, Hemil was a passionate liberal. His open letter to Robert Kennedy helped bring the senator into the race for the presidency, and Hamil was one of the handful who snatched a gun from Kennedy’s killer Sirhan Sarhan in 1968 at the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel Was.

Hamill found his way onto President Richard Nixon’s “list of enemies”. In a column, Hamill said the president blamed campus descenters for the 1970 shooting at Kent State University by calling them “bums”. Vice President Spyro Agnew called the column an ​​”irrational quirk”, and Hamill borrowed the phrase for the title of his column’s 1971 collection.

Hamill in 1974 with Jacqueline Onassis.
Hamill in 1974 with Jacqueline Onassis. Photo: Globe Photos / REX / Shutterstock

In a 1969 column for the New York magazine, The Revolt of the White Lower Middle Class, he feared the rise of Donald Trump as he warned men to “stand around the saloon about their grievances and even To talk blindly about possible treatments. ” His complaints are genuine and deep; Their measures can tear this city apart. “

In a 1991 Esquire column, he criticized black people for blaming everything on whites. In a column ‘Letter to a Black Friend’ running in Esquire in 1991, he wrote, “AAP has been defensively under the grip of great racialism.

Hamill’s first marriage to Ramona Negron ended in divorce. He placed his two daughters, Adrienne and Deider, in primary custody.

In 1986, Hamill married Japanese journalist Fukiko Aoki, whom he met during a trip to Japan to visit Japan to promote his collection of short stories, Tokyo Sketches.

In 2019, Hemill and one of his greatest contemporaries, Jimmy Breslin, were featured in the HBO documentary Deadle Artist.

Born on 24 June 1935 to William Peter Hamill, he was the oldest of seven children of migrants from Northern Ireland. His brother Dennis is a novelist and columnist for the Daily News.

At the age of 16, Pete Hamill grew bored of high school, moved out and went to work as a sheet metal worker at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, while honoring his skills as a comic book artist on that side. did. In the yard, he developed latent tuberculosis.

While in the Navy, Hamill completed high school. He attended Mexico City College in 1956.

Returning to New York, Hamill opened a graphic design store at Hell’s Kitchen. After reading a 1960 memoir by post editor Jimmy Wechsler, young Hamill wrote to Wexler saying that there was no place for people like him in the newspapers – the working class, no Ivy League degrees. The editor suggested a meeting.

Hamil later wrote, “He took me to his inner office and I sat near a desk with newspaper clippings, magazines, readers’ letters, copies of his book.” “When we talked, he smoked cigarettes and drank coffee. Near the end of our chat, he leaned back in his chair and placed his hands behind his head. ‘Have you ever thought about making a newspaper?’