Pete Hamill, the legendary journalist whose columns and books cast a luminous light on New York City in a voice both sensitive and hard-hitting, died on Aug. 5, four days after fracturing his hip when he fell at his home in Brooklyn after returning from a dialysis treatment. He was taken to New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, where he died of heart and kidney failure. He was 85.
Hamill, a long-time member of the Silurians, is the only person who ever won the club’s Lifetime Achievement Award (1989) as well as its Peter Kihss Award (1992). He was a featured luncheon speaker on several occasions and always drew a big crowd eager to hear more of his stories about covering the politicians, entertainers, athletes and other assorted characters he wrote about for more than 50 years. His tales of New York reflected Hamill’s background as a street-savvy guy from Brooklyn with a limited formal education — he was a high school dropout — but with a keen eye for observing the life around him and reproducing it in punchy prose that sometimes approached the poetic.
A New York institution as a reporter, Hamill was a columnist, an author, a novelist and the editor of New York’s two major tabloid newspapers, The Post in 1993 and The Daily News in 1997. He wrote for The Village Voice and New York Newsday. He was selected by the Museum of the City of New York as one of the 400 most influential New Yorkers of the last 400 years, yet he was a school dropout at 15 who got an honorary degree from his high school a month after he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters from St. John’s University.
He lived at times in Barcelona, Dublin, Mexico City, San Juan, Rome, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Santa Fe, but there is only one city he called home and it was not one of those. With passion and elegance, he wrote more than two dozen books and countless newspaper columns and magazine articles, yet his first love was cartooning. He covered urban riots in America and wars in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Lebanon and Northern Ireland, but wrote sensitively about the trials and triumphs of ordinary New Yorkers, always with a strong rooting interest in the underdog. He chronicled presidential campaigns and New York neighborhood politics. He was in that hotel kitchen in Los Angeles in 1968, when Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down, and in Ray Robinson’s dressing room in 1965 after the great champion’s last fight. In his spare time, he wrote the liner notes on a Bob Dylan album, “Blood on the Tracks.” It won a Grammy in 1975.
When Hamill was 11, he was earning money delivering The Brooklyn Eagle. He won a scholarship to the prestigious Regis High School, but dropped out to become an apprentice sheet metal worker in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and attend night classes at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School (now the School of Visual Arts). In 1952, he enlisted in the Navy. Returning to civilian life, he spent a year in Mexico City, trying to become a painter and learning instead that writing was his game.
He was hired by The Post in 1960, leaving during a long newspaper strike to become a European correspondent for The Saturday Evening Post. In 1965, after a brief stint as a feature writer at The New York Herald Tribune, he returned to The Post as a columnist. In 1993, during a chaotic period at The Post, a time when ownership went from Rupert Murdoch to Abe Hirschfeld, a parking lot mogul with no experience in media. Hamill left in 1997, was hired by Mortimer Zuckerman to run the newsroom of The Daily News, and left after a contentious eight months.
In addition to The Saturday Evening Post, magazines in which his articles have appeared include New York, The New Yorker, Esquire, Playboy and Rolling Stone. His books range from “A Drinking Life,” a 1994 memoir that traced his journey into alcoholism and how he overcame it, to a 1998 extended essay called “News Is a Verb: Journalism at the End of the Twentieth Century,” his thoughts about newspapers and how they should be covering cities, to “Downtown: My Manhattan,” a journey through time that combines history and contemporary observations of the city he loved.
Christopher Dickey, a veteran international correspondent, editor and author, died following a heart attack on July 16, at his home in Paris, where he was based as foreign editor of The Daily Beast. He was 68.
In addition to reporting from at least 42 countries over the course of a four-decade career, Dickey was the author of seven books, including a memoir about his problematic relationship with his father, James Dickey, the former Poet Laureate of the United States and the author of the best-selling novel “Deliverance.”
A native of Nashville, Dickey began his career in journalism after earning a B.A. from the University of Virginia in 1972 and a master’s in documentary filmmaking from Boston University in 1974. He was hired by the Washington Post, covering Central America and then the Middle East. In 1986, he joined Newsweek, becoming a bureau chief in Cairo and then the magazine’s Paris editor before moving to the Daily Beast. He was an occasional contributor to The New York Times Book Review and made frequent appearances on MSNBC.
His reputation as one of the most knowledgeable journalists covering world affairs was reflected not only in his dispatches from here and abroad, but in the scope of his books. He is the author of “With the Contras: A Reporter in the Wilds of Nicaragua” (1986); “Expats: Travels in Arabia, from Tripoli to Teheran” (1990); “Securing the City: Inside America’s Best Counterterror Force – the NYPD” (2009); and “Our Man in Charleston: Britain’s Secret Agent in the Civil War South” (2015). He wrote two novels about terrorism: “Innocent Blood” (1997) and “The Sleeper” (2004). Dickey is also the author of “Summer of Deliverance: A Memoir of Father and Son,” which was published in 1998, a year after his father’s death and in which he said he had become a foreign correspondent partly to get far away from home.
Albert C. Lasher
Albert C. Lasher, a long-time Silurian, died at his Manhattan home on May 12 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was 91. After working on the Brooklyn College newspaper, Vanguard, and earning a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Lasher joined the Wall Street Journal in 1952 as a reporter. He later became an editor at Business Week and Tide magazines.
He later moved into the business world, heading corporate relations for the Lily-Tulip Cup Corp. He went on to partner with his wife, Stephanie, to start Disposable Marketing Services, a company that became a leader in the paper-goods and food-service fields. Along the way, he served as chairman of The Fonda Group, a paper-goods company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1967, he and Carter Henderson, a former Wall Street Journal colleague, co-authored “20 Million Careless Capitalists,” a pioneering exploration of the concept of shareholder value.
In addition to his life-long support of journalism programs, Lasher served on the board of the Alvin Ailey Ballet Company and as the founder of the Inter-racial Council on Business Opportunity, which helped minority businesses start and grow. He was also a talented magician and teacher and for many years headed the New York chapter of the Society of Young Magicians.
Patricia Bosworth, an actress and model before embarking on a long career as a magazine writer and an author of well-received biographies and two memoirs, died on April 2 in Manhattan. She was 86. The cause of death was complications of pneumonia brought on by the coronavirus.
After graduating from Sarah Lawrence in 1955, Ms. Bosworth was accepted as a student at the Actors Studio. Her classmates included Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe. She wrote of that time in her 2001 biography of Brando. Her other biographies were of Montgomery Clift (1978), the photographer Diane Arbus (1984) and Jane Fonda (2011). She performed in several regional theaters and appeared on screen in the 1959 movie “The Nun’s Story,” which starred Audrey Hepburn.
Her first memoir, “Anything Your Little Heart Desires,” was a 1997 bestseller that focused on her father, Bartley Crum, one of the lawyers who defended the blacklisted “Hollywood 10” during the Red Scare of the late 1940s, and included the suicides of her younger brother and her father. Her second memoir, “The Men in My Life: A Memoir of Love and Art in 1950s Manhattan,” was published in 2017. Her final book, slated for publication next year, is “Protest Song: Paul Robeson, J. Edgar Hoover and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Equality.”
In addition to her books, Ms. Bosworth was a contributing editor at Vanity Fair since 1988. She became a journalist in the 1960s, as an editor at Woman’s Day. From 1969 to 1972, she was senior editor at McCall’s, then spent two years as managing editor of Harper’s Bazaar. Her award-winning work has also appeared in such publications as The New York Times, New York magazine, The Nation, Esquire, Mirabella and Working Woman, and she has taught at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and at New York University.
Gladys Bourdain, a copy editor at The New York Times for 24 years, died on Jan. 10 in New York after suffering deteriorating health for several years. She was 85. In addition to being the mother of Anthony Bourdain, the late chef, author, TV host and travel documentarian, Ms. Bourdain had her own media career. After marrying and raising two sons, Anthony and Christopher (a banker), she led the life of a homemaker in Leonia, N.J., until 1973, when she joined the Bergen Record’s entertainment section. In 1978, she was named entertainment editor of The Trib, a short-lived startup newspaper that published only on weekdays. Ms. Bourdain moved to Paris in 1980, working as a translator for Agence France-Presse. She returned to New York in 1984 and was hired by The Times as a copy editor in the Culture and Metro sections. She also wrote numerous articles for The Times, as well as for Opera News and other music-related publications. On several occasions until her retirement in 2008, she represented Guild members in negotiations with Times management. In 1997, Ms. Bourdain translated “On Stage, Off Stage: A Memoir” by French opera singer Regine Crespin, a close friend. In 1999, through an acquaintance at The New Yorker, she helped her son Anthony submit an essay to the magazine about what goes on behind the kitchen doors of restaurants in New York City. It was called “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” became the basis of his best-selling book, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,” and ignited her son’s career as one of the best-known travel, food and culture commentators of modern times.