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'60 Minutes' Legend Mike Wallace Dies at 93

By Tom Liddy | April 8, 2012 10:45am | Updated on April 8, 2012 12:10pm
Journalist Mike Wallace speaks onstage at the 50th Annual New York Emmy Awards Gala on April 1, 2007 in New York City.
Journalist Mike Wallace speaks onstage at the 50th Annual New York Emmy Awards Gala on April 1, 2007 in New York City.
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Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

MANHATTAN — Legendary newsman Mike Wallace, who was a constant presence on CBS's "60 Minutes" for decades and helped build the show into the most successful primetime newscast ever, died Saturday night at 93.

The hard-hitting reporter's death was announced on the network by CBS colleague John Osgood, according to the New York Times.

According to the AP, Wallace died at a care facility in New Haven, Conn. where he has lived in recent years.

Wallace was one of the original correspondents for the pioneering newscast starting in 1968 and took on "corrupt politicians, scam artists and bureaucratic bumblers," according to colleague Morely Safer.

"Wallace took to heart the old reporter's pledge to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable," Safer wrote in a remembrance on CBSNews.com. "He characterized himself as "nosy and insistent."

Among the legions of notable figures he grappled with were Vladimir Putin, Yassir Arafat and the Ayatollah Khoumeini, asking "if he were crazy," Safer said.

"He traveled with Martin Luther King (whom Wallace called his hero). He grappled with Louis Farrakhan," Safer wrote.

"And he interviewed Malcolm X shortly before his assassination."

Wallace also interviewed several presidents, including John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and others.

But Wallace's universe wasn't limited to public officials — he also took on Leonard Bernstein, opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, Barbra Streisand and even painter Salvador Dali.

Wallace, born in 1918 in Brookline, Mass., got into radio while he was at college at the University of Michigan.

In the 50s, he began to make his mark on the interview show "Night Beat," taking an "irreverent" tack towards guests including asking gangster Mickey Cohen, "How many men have you killed, Mickey?" Safer recalled.

He joined "60 Minutes" during its first year in 1968 and interrogated guests for the next 40 years.

Wallace, who was married four times and endured bouts with depression, retired as a regular correspondent in March 2006, according to the AP.

But he continued to conduct interviews, including assisted suicide Dr. Jack Kevorkian and embattled pitcher Roger Clemens, until he had heart surgery at the age of 90 in 2008.

Wallace's colleague, "60 Minutes" pugnacious commentator Andy Rooney, died last November at 92.