Highly celebrated inquirer Mike Wallace, 93, who gained immeasurable fame as host of CBS’s 60 Minutes for almost 50 years and conversed with several of the most high profile personalities of his time, has passed away, the network reports.
One of the roughest, choppiest/chippiest interviewers on broadcast TV, Wallace became a founding host of television’s hottest newsmagazine show, 60 Minutes.
According to the New York Times, CBS News’s Face the Nation host Bob Scheiffer said Wallace died after struggling with a long illness Saturday night in New Haven, Connecticut, in the presence of family.
In 2008, Wallace went through triple heart-bypass surgery, a critical procedure that doctors described as “a great success”.
Wallace’s passing is hot on the heels of veteran broadcaster Andy Rooney’s, 92, death in November last year, both of which belonged to the CBS News family.
CBS published an essay where 60 Minutes’s Morely Safer wrote that Wallace “took to heart the old reporter’s pledge to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. He characterized himself as ‘nosy and insistent.’”
“So insistent, there were very few 20th century icons who didn’t submit to a Mike Wallace interview. He lectured Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, on corruption. He lectured Yassir Arafat on violence,” wrote Safer.
“Mike’s energy and nerve paced everyone at 60 Minutes. His was the defining spirit of the show,” said Diane Sawyer, a former colleague, in a statement. “He bounded through the halls with joy at the prospect of the new, the true, the unexpected.”
Wallace, who went on a journey beside Martin Luther King, Jr. and interviewed Malcolm X during his renowned career, hit the sack in 2006, but at times appeared on the show to interview high profile subjects such as Mitt Romney, Jack Kevorkian and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Late in his life, he told reporters if he could write his own epigraph, it would read, “Tough But Fair.”