CBS Confirms Death Of '60 Minutes' Anchor Mike Wallace
With a career spanning more than 60 years in tow, veteran CBS anchor Mike Wallace has died, CBS News reports. He was 93.
Wallace died surrounded by loved ones at Waveny Care Center in New Canaan, CT, where he'd spent much of his last several years, around 8 PM on April 7, as reported April 8 on "CBS Sunday Morning". Though he by all indications passed away from natural causes, Wallace had admittedly spent years of his life combatting depression and even revealed in an interview with Morley Safer a past survived suicide attempt.
His life and times will be the subject of a special "60 Minutes" airing April 15, according to CBS.
"All of us at CBS News and particularly at '60 Minutes' owe so much to Mike," said CBSNews chairman and "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager. "Without him and his iconic style, there probably wouldn't be a '60 Minutes'. There simply hasn't been another broadcast journalist with that much talent. It almost didn't matter what stories he was covering, you just wanted to hear what he would ask next. Around CBS he was the same infectious, funny and ferocious person as he was on TV. We loved him and we will miss him very much."
As a reporter, Wallace was notorious among colleagues and dignitaries as a pitbull of a reporter, a relentless interrogator of an interviewer with the will to dig into a story and give his audience the whole truth. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1939, and not long after had his first journalistic marching orders as a WOOD broadcaster and continuity writer in Grand Rapids, MI. By 1940, he'd become WXYZ Detroit's new announcer, then a freelance radio worker in Chicago. In 1943, he served during World War II on board the USS Anthedon, fittingly as a communication officer.
In his earliest gigs, Wallace was an announcer for radio dramas such as "Ned Jordan", "Secret Agent", "Sky King" and "The Green Hornet", as well as being a Chicago wrestling announcer in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
A CBS career of journalistic legend began in the late 1940s when Wallace became a radio announcer for various shows across the CBS Network. He first cut his interviewer's teeth hosting "Night Beat" in New York from 1955-1957 and "The Mike Wallace Interview" on ABC radio from 1957-1958. He and Louis Lomax produced the five-part 1959 Nation of Islam documentary "The Hate That Hate Produced".
From 1963-1966, Wallaced hosted the earliest incarnation of "The CBS Morning News". He was a "60 Minutes" fixture from its 1968 inception, and through the entire 23-year run in which the news magazine was consecutively among the annual Nielsen Top 10 Most-Watched Shows list. There, his notorious dogged determination as an interview didn't lose its bite.
In a tete-a-tete with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Wallace called Nigeria the world's most corrupt country. Farrakhan shot back, "Nigeria didn't bomb Hiroshima or slaughter millions of indians!"
When Wallace challenged Farrakhan to name another country more corrupt, Farrakhan shot back, "I am living in one!"
Years later and in the thick of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, Wallace's assertion that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat had called Iran's Ayatollah Khomeni made the Iranian leader smile mid-interview and predict - ironically enough, correctly - Sadat's eventual assassination. Wallace wasn't so well received by late-night television god Johnny Carson; the legendary host of "The Tonight Show" deemed Wallace "cruel" the same year when Carson pitied an alcoholic newsmaker during an interview and Wallace replied "It takes one to know one?"
In 1991, he nearly brought Barbara Streissand to tears when he quoted her mother as saying the singer and actress was too caught up to get close to anyone. In 2001, he did the same to Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor when sharing with the NFL great Taylor's son's impressions of him.
Wallace announced his 37-year career's end on "60 Minutes" March 14, 2006. He continued as an occasional CBS News and "60 Minutes" contributor until 2008, including interviews with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad in 2006 and what would be his final interview in 2008, a January "60 Minutes" talk with baseball great Roger Clemens.
Wallace was four-times married in his life. His son Peter died at 19 years of age in a 1962 mountain-climbing accident in Greece. His youngest son, Chris Wallace, has been a Fox News correspondent since 2003.