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Friday, 29 September 2006

RIP John Belmonte


By Richard Carreño

25 September 2006

Philadelphia: -- Journalist and Front Pager John Belmonte, 58, a dear friend, from the White Horse Tavern to the King Cole Bar, died 19 September in New York City.

John was a mentor. Down and dirty. It goes back almost 40 years when we -- and I mean Peter Frishauf, Froma (Joselow) Harrop, and Liz Maggio amongst us -- were running The Washington Square Journal at New York University. This was John's heyday!

It was John who transformed the paper. Making it a daily -- to John, the hallmark of deadline journalism -- was only a small measure of his achievement.

John was a friend. The relationship, unlike like many friendships, was rather uncomplicated. John was never judgmental, nor competitive.

But it was sometimes strained, bedeviled by at least one of the two demons, drink and wagering, that afflicted John with steady repetition over the years.

John was a latter-day Damon Runyon figure, a dapper Broadway figure. They even named a race-track in his honour. (Didn't they?)

That John was attracted to the Daily News -- first as the paper's NYU college correspondent and later as its real estate editor after he returned from Viet-Nam -- was no surprise. Obsessive, yes. A cigarette was always dangling from his lips.

But also John broke with this hard-bitten image, being unfailingly polite, even courtly, with the women we knew. And shy. John always had a crush on Roberta Levine (pictured with Ralph Watt, above), but would never admit it.

Dear John: My respectful --30--. If you, Dear Reader, don't understand that, you'd never understand John.

By Peter Frishauf

Dear Friends and Colleagues of John Belmonte: --

New York: -- Sadly and unexpectedly, John died in his apartment Tuesday, following a coronary event. He was found by his wife, Carol.

I've known John since 1968 when we students at NYU, and we've been friends ever since. While much of John's life was a struggle, I suspect everyone who knew him was touched by John's gentle and perceptiveintelligencee and caring. And the the good news is that John's life ended on an up up-tick, with lots of progress and prospects with his career and his personal life.

Journal History Available

Many years ago, I compiled a history of Journal, titled The Washington Square Journal: Student Journalism at New York University [1894-1970] -- real boring, huh? -- that, yes, is available free to anyone who wants a copy. The narrative gets better when John enters the picture. And Su DeBroske, Ralph Watt, Roberta Levine, Leonard Maltin, Walter Kelly, Dennis Fine, and Don Holloschutz. (Apologies to the many others I didn't mention). Contact me here at Junto. I also have some copies of the old Journal stylebook. Any takers?

-- RDC