CBS just announced that legendary newsman Mike Wallace, a founding correspondent on 60 Minutes has died. He was 93. Charles Osgood disclosed the news on CBS Sunday Morning. The 60 Minutes web site said Wallace died last night, surrounded by family members at Waveny Care Center in New Canaan, Conn., where he spent the past few years. Wallace was well known for his hard-hitting interviews but he began his career as a radio announcer and quiz show host. In the 1950s he began to host late night TV interview shows and in the 1960s a weekly interview show, Biography. He worked for CBS News from 1951 to 1955, and became a correspondent in 1963 hosting the network’s morning news show to 1966. His reputation as a newsman was forged on 60 Minutes where he interviewed presidents and newsmakers including Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Yasir Arafat and Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
He was best known for his willingness to ask bold and direct questions. For example, he confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin about corruption and asked Ayatollah Khoumeini whether he was crazy. Wallace won more than 20 Emmy awards — including a Lifetime Achievement Emmy — before he retired in 2006. Several of his reports were steeped in controversy, most notably an interview with Gen. William Westmoreland that ran in a special report in 1982, The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception. Westmoreland sued for libel but settled in 1985 before the case went to court. “Wallace took to heart the old reporter’s pledge to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” his longtime colleague Morley Safer says. ”He characterized himself as ‘nosy and insistent.’” Actor Christopher Plummer played Wallace in the 1999 film The Insider. A special program dedicated to Wallace will be broadcast on 60 Minutes next Sunday April 15.