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Pete Hamill Dies: New York City Columnist, Editor And Author

Pete Hamill, on stage in New York City in 2009.
Rob Loud
Getty Images
Pete Hamill, on stage in New York City in 2009.

Legendary newspaperman and author Pete Hamill has died at the age of 85 in New York City, his hometown.

"He fell on Saturday and died this morning of heart and kidney failure," his longtime literary agent Esther Newberg told NPR in an email, adding, "One of a kind."

The high-school dropout and former newspaper delivery boy from Brooklyn scrapped his way up the tabloid ranks back when those newsrooms boasted reporters and columnists such as Nora Ephron and William F. Buckley, as Hamill told WHYY's Fresh Air in 2011.

"These were not people who thought the audience was stupid," he said. "They thought the audience was smart, and they wrote up to the audience instead of down. And I think that's the kind of paper fading mainly because editors are afraid of offending anyone and the result is often a bland kind of porridge."

Hamill worked as a foreign correspondent in Spain before becoming a beloved reporter, editor and columnist at the New York Daily News and the New York Post. He covered everything from the civil rights movement to 9/11, wrote for most of the leading magazines of his day and authored twenty books, including his acclaimed 1995 memoir, A Drinking Life, that detailed his decision to quit alcohol.

Hamill is survived by two children and his wife, journalist Fukiko Aoki Hamill.

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Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.
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