Pete Hamill, New York columnist from a bygone era, dead at 85
Journalist Pete Hamill, a columnist, editor and author who personified the great New York City newspaper wars of a bygone era, died on Wednesday at age 85, the New York Daily News reported.
Hamill, a lifelong New Yorker, passed away at a New York City hospital where he was taken after he fractured his hip following a fall on Saturday, the newspaper reported, citing Hamill’s brother and former New York Daily News columnist Denis Hamill.
Pete Hamill was editor and columnist for both the New Daily News and the New York Post, the rare celebrity journalist who was known as both a hardbitten news man and a kind and generous mentor.
The author of several novels and works of nonfiction whose interests spanned the arts and sports and international affairs, he won a 1975 Grammy for writing the album notes to Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks.”
“Everyone knew that Pete was a consummate writer, but what shouldn’t be lost on everyone was that he was truly a great reporter,” said Lou Colasuonno, the only person besides Hamill to serve as editor of both the Post and the Daily News. “He’s irreplaceable and one of those people who makes cities great.”
Known to keep his cool during tense times in the newsroom, where he worked mostly from the 1960s to 1990s, Hamill also liked to unwind with drinks at places like the Lion’s Head, a former writers’ bar in Greenwich Village, though he gave up drinking later in life.
He documented his relationship with alcohol in his 1994 book “A Drinking Life: A Memoir.”
“There were two Pete Hamills. One showed no mercy for the comfortable that were taking advantage of people. The other was absolutely generous with his talents and his time with young people,” Colasuonno said.
Hamill also became the subject of paparazzi and gossip when he dated famous women, such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Shirley MacLaine.
He was a friend of Robert F. Kennedy and was with the senator and Democratic presidential hopeful when he was fatally wounded at a Los Angeles hotel 1968.
Hamill was well known for a friendly rivalry with famed Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin.
While Breslin epitomized sympathy with the common man, Hamill’s style was more erudite and poetic, despite having dropped out of high school. They were the subject of the 2018 HBO documentary “Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists.”
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