60 Minutes veteran Mike Wallace, a pioneer in the form of broadcast journalism, has died at the age of 93. According to the Times, Wallace died in New Haven Connecticut, and CBS's Bob Scheiffer said "his family was with him." Wallace had been ill for several years, and underwent triple bypass surgery in 2008.
In the CBS obituary, CEO Les Moonves said, "It is with tremendous sadness that we mark the passing of Mike Wallace. His extraordinary contribution as a broadcaster is immeasurable and he has been a force within the television industry throughout its existence. His loss will be felt by all of us at CBS."
His colleague at 60 Minutes, Morley Safer, remembers all the famous and infamous people Wallace interviewed in his 65 years in front of the camera, including Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Salvador Dali, the Ayatollah Khoumeini (asking him if he was crazy), and mobster Mickey Cohen, as well as "his demons. Three times over the years, he was treated for severe depression, and revealed a few years back that he once tried to end it all with an overdose of sleeping pills." In an interview Safer had asked, "Did you try to commit suicide at one point?" and Wallace responded, "I've never said this before. Yeah. I tried."
Here's a video of Wallace explaining how he selected stories, part of a series for the Emmys. He said, "In the best of all possible worlds, everybody would be honorable, but that's not the way the world works. Reputations for reporters are made by discovering things underneath that rock."
Wallace was memorably portrayed by Christopher Plummer in The Insider, about Wallace's interview with big tobacco whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand, but CBS corporate objected to the piece. Here's Plummer expressing Wallace's rage:
Safer calls Wallace, "the toughest guy on television." A special program dedicated to Wallace will be broadcast on 60 Minutes next Sunday, April 15.