Pete Hamill, a high school dropout who turned a gift for storytelling, a fascination with characters and a romance with tabloid newspapers into a storied career as a New York journalist, novelist and essayist for more than a half century, died on Wednesday in Brooklyn. He was 85.
The writer Denis Hamill, his brother, said he had a fall at his home on Saturday after returning from dialysis and was in intensive care at Methodist Hospital when “his kidneys and heart failed him.”
In another age, when the newsrooms of metropolitan dailies pulsed to the rising thunder of typewriters on deadline, Mr. Hamill, searching for a future after years of academic frustration, Navy life and graphic design work, walked into the city room of The New York Post in 1960 and fell in love with newspapering.
“The room was more exciting to me than any movie,” he recalled in a memoir, “an organized chaos of editors shouting from desks, copy boys dashing through doors into the composing room, men and women typing at big manual typewriters, telephones ringing, the wire service tickers clattering, everyone smoking and putting butts out on the floor.”
Mr. Hamill became a celebrated reporter, columnist and the top editor of The New York Post and The Daily News; a foreign correspondent for The Post and The Saturday Evening Post; and a writer for New York Newsday, The Village Voice, Esquire and other publications. He wrote a score of books, mostly novels but also biographies, collections of short stories and essays, and screenplays, some adapted from his books.
A complete version of this obituary will be published shortly.