Veteran newsman Mike Wallace dead at 93
Sun April 8, 2012
Mike Wallace, who spent four decades as a hard-hitting, provocative news correspondent on "60 Minutes," has died, CBS reported Sunday. He was 93. Wallace is shown in his New York City office in this 1984 portrait.
"60 Minutes" reporters Ed Bradley, back row from left, Morley Safer, Steve Kroft, Lesley Stahl and Mike Wallace pose for a photo with President Bill Clinton at the White House in 1995. Wallace was with "60 Minutes" when it debuted in 1968. In 2006, he became a correspondent emeritus and stopped appearing regularly.
"60 minutes" correspondents Morley Safer, from left, Dan Rather and Mike Wallace, and executive producer Don Hewitt, right, discuss upcoming segments during the 1970s. Wallace and his wife, Mary, arrive at a New York City screening in 2003. In 2008, Wallace underwent successful triple-bypass heart surgery. A 1964 promotional portrait shows Wallace wearing a wireless microphone. He anchored "CBS Morning News With Mike Wallace" and covered most of the major news stories of the 1960s, including several assignments to Vietnam, according to the "60 Minutes" website. Wallace, as host, reads a question in this production still from the 1956 quiz show, "Big Surprise." Wallace interviews Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard Eldon Lee Edwards around 1956. Bill Moyers, from left, Walter Cronkite, Morton Dean and Wallace pose in a 1975 promotional photo of CBS News correspondents covering the Republican National Convention. Wallace and his then-wife, Buff Cobb, dressed in costume for a 1952 St. Patrick's Day episode of their CBS show, "Mike and Buff." The newsman was a communications officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II before landing a series of television jobs in Chicago and trying his hand at acting. Barbara Walters, Henry Kissinger and Wallace pose for a photo at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City in 1980. Wallace and and fellow "60 Minutes" correspondent Andy Rooney attend a 2005 screening of "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" in New York. Wallace and Morley Safer pose at The Museum Of Television & Radio's Annual Gala in New York in 2007. Wallace signs his book "Between You and Me" at the 2005 Book Expo in New York City. (CNN) -- Mike Wallace, who spent four decades as a hard-hitting, provocative news correspondent on "60 Minutes," has died, CBS reported Sunday. He was 93.
Wallace died Saturday night "peacefully surrounded by family members at Waveny Care Center in New Caanan, Connecticut, where he spent the past few years," CBS said in a statement.
"For half a century, he took on corrupt politicians, scam artists and bureaucratic bumblers," CBS News said on its website. "... Wallace took to heart the old reporter's pledge to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. He characterized himself as 'nosy and insistent.'"
During Sunday's night episode of "60 Minutes," Morley Safer called Wallace "a one-man truth squad with a remarkable gift for getting to the very core of a story."
"More than anyone else, he was responsible for the continuing success of '60 Minutes,'" Safer said. "We're all in his debt."
Hours earlier, Safer described his longtime colleague to CNN as someone who was "never dull," "fearless" and "tenacious," driven to get a scoop and to the heart of events, issues and people that shaped the world.
"Mike was irrepressible. You could never ... knock him down, he would bounce right back up," said Safer, expressing a deep admiration for a man whom he'd often jostle against for stories. "The fact is he was nosier than everybody else and more insistent, and more successful at being nosy."
Scott Bronstein, a CNN senior investigative producer who worked with Wallace as a "60 Minutes" staff producer during the late 1990s, remembered him as "an unbelievable journalist" with high standards and unique talent as an interviewer.
"He was inspiring," said Bronstein. "He made you want to do your best work. He always demanded you to report more and more. He was such a marvel, the way he could do an interview."
Veteran newsman Mike Wallace dies
When they last met over a year ago, Wallace was in high spirits but "beginning to fail," said Safer. He'd suffered from dementia in recent years, according to Larry King, longtime host of CNN's "Larry King Live."
"They didn't come any better," King said. "He was a glorious human being, a wonderful raconteur, a great journalist, a great host, an interviewer with his own style. ... Mike Wallace was a guy, when he's on, you can't hit the clicker."
Wallace was already a veteran of the "CBS Morning News with Mike Wallace" and had covered most of the 1960s' major news stories, including several assignments to Vietnam, when he was hired as a correspondent for the new television show "60 Minutes."
The show debuted in September 1968. During Wallace's four-decade career on "60 Minutes," he "sealed his reputation as a hard-charging, no-holds-barred interviewer," according to the Knight-Wallace Foundation at the University of Michigan, which Wallace supported.
"His most memorable moments at '60 Minutes' have often been news-making events in their own rights."
"There were very few 20th century icons who didn't submit to a Mike Wallace interview," CBS said. "He lectured Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, on corruption. He lectured Yasser Arafat on violence. He asked the Ayatollah Khomeini if he were crazy."