Colleagues Remember ’60 Minutes’ Icon Mike Wallace, Dead at 93

Apr 9, 2012  •  Post A Comment

Mike Wallace, the "60 Minutes" newsman known for his tough interviews, had died, reports CBSNews.com. He was 93.

Wallace died peacefully while surrounded by family members at Waveny Care Center in New Canaan, Conn., where he had lived for the past few years, according to the story.

"Without him and his iconic style, there probably wouldn’t be a ’60 Minutes,’” said CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager.

Wallace’s death comes within five months of the death of another iconic "60 Minutes" figure, Andy Rooney, points out David Bauder of the Associated Press. Rooney, a commentator known for his cantankerous outlook, died last November at 92 years old, as previously reported.

"60 Minutes" will air an extended tribute to Wallace next Sunday, the piece says.

Wallace’s reputation was such that the phrase "Mike Wallace is here to see you" ranked among the most dreaded words a newsmaker might hear, Bauder notes.

"Wallace didn’t just interview people. He interrogated them. He cross-examined them. Sometimes he eviscerated them pitilessly. His weapons were many: thorough research, a cocked eyebrow, a skeptical "Come on" and a question so direct it took your breath away," Bauder writes.

Wallace enjoyed his reputation, according to Fager. "He loved that part of Mike Wallace. He loved being Mike Wallace. He loved the fact that if he showed up for an interview, it made people nervous," Fager said.

The newsman pioneered "ambush interviews," with a camera crew helping to corner alleged wrongdoers wherever he might pressure them into a comment, the piece notes.

When "60 Minutes" founding executive producer Don Hewitt put together the initial staff of the show in 1968, Wallace was part of the program.

While the show wasn’t an immediate hit, the program entered the top 10 in the 1977-78 season and stayed, the piece points out. It’s still television’s most popular newsmagazine.

Wallace’s broadcast career started in 1939 as a jack-of-all-trades at a Michigan radio station, according to Bloomberg. He found his calling in 1956 when he joined "Night Beat," an interview program at a local New York TV station, the story reports. In 1963, when he was 44, Wallace joined CBS News, and five years later Hewitt invited him to join "60 Minutes."

In Hewitt’s 2001 memoir, he described Wallace as “a tiger, the kind of journalist who comes along once in a lifetime, and he hasn’t lost a step along the way," the story notes.

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