Mike Wallace Dies: '60 Minutes' Correspondent Was 93

He was a correspondent on the CBS News program "60 Minutes" from its premiere.

April 8, 2012, 8:31 AM

April 8, 2012— -- Veteran broadcast journalist Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes" fame has died, according to CBS News.

He had been in declining health in recent years but a cause of death has yet to be released. He was 93.

"It is with tremendous sadness that we mark the passing of Mike Wallace," CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves said in a statement on the CBS News website. "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."

CBS newsman Bob Schieffer also announced his death this morning on "Face the Nation."

Wallace died Saturday night at a care facility in New Haven, Conn., where he had lived in the past several years.

Wallace had a history of cardiac issues. He underwent a triple bypass heart surgery in 2008.

Wallace was a correspondent on the CBS News program "60 Minutes" from its premiere in 1968 where he earned a reputation as one of the toughest interviewers in the business.

He spent 38 seasons with the program before announcing his retirement in 2006.

VIEW: Mike Wallace Through the Years

But Wallace remained as correspondent emeritus with the program and still occasionally contributed to the news magazine and CBS News platforms after the 2005-06 season, according to his official CBS News biography.

"He loved being Mike Wallace," CBS News chairman and "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager said. "He loved the fact that if he showed up for an interview, it made people nervous. ... He knew, and he knew that everybody else knew, that he was going to get to the truth. And that's what motivated him."

When he announced his retirement, Wallace told Schieffer that the job had been a quite a journey.

"To go around the world, to talk to almost anybody you want to talk to, to have enough time on the air, so that you could really tell a full story," Wallace said at the time. "What a voyage of discovery it was."

In a 2002 interview, when Wallace was 84, fellow CBS newsman Morley Safer was asked about Wallace's long career.

"Well, he's remarkable. I mean he still has the energy of a man half his age, and the man half his age is already middle age," Safer said.

ABC "World News" anchor Diane Sawyer also remembered Wallace's incredible energy and joyous spirit.

"Mike's energy and nerve paced everyone at '60 Minutes.' His was the defining spirit of the show," she said. "He bounded through the halls with joy at the prospect of the new, the true, the unexpected."

Over the years, Wallace sat down with seven U.S. presidents as well as other world leaders, celebrities, sports stars and controversial figures such as Malcom X, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Jose Canseco, Yasser Arafat and Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

His investigative reporting in the 199s revealed the secrets of the tobacco industry and inspired the Hollywood movie, "The Insider."

Wallace also made his name as a war correspondent in the 1960s, covering Vietnam.

He started his journalism career in the 1940s as a radio news writer and broadcaster for Chicago Sun.

He joined CBS News in 1951 and later returned to the network in 1963 after leaving in 1955.

Wallace also appeared on one-on-one interview show "Night Beat," which later aired on ABC.

During his remarkable career, he won more than 20 Emmy Awards and several other honors.

He also wrote several books including "Between You and Me," with Gary Paul Gates, and "Heat and Light: Advice for the Next Generation of Journalists" in collaboration with Fordham University journalism professor Beth Knobel.

News colleagues remembered Wallace fondly for his tenacity and dogged reporting.

ABC News President Ben Sherwood said Wallace was "an intrepid journalist who used the medium of television to powerful ends. A pioneer of broadcasting and network news, Mike was there at the creation."

"Every Sunday night America tuned in to see what questions he would ask and who would be exposed to his hard charging quest for the truth," Sherwood said in a statement. "Mike's tough questioning inspired generations of journalists. Our thoughts are with our former colleague Chris and his entire family."

Politicians also offered their condolences and shared their encounters with Wallace.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tweeted: "My experience with Mike Wallace -- integrity, charm, character. A great one goes home."

Wallace profiled Romney during the 2008 presidential race for "60 Minutes."

Former Speaker of the House and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Wallace was a "giant in news reporting and analysis."

"His investigative reporting was legendary, and his participation in '60 Minutes' helped created a lasting institution Mike Wallace's life created a legacy young reporters will study for years to come. The Wallace family is in our prayers this Easter Sunday," Gingrich said in a statement.

Nancy Reagan, widow of President Ronald Reagan, said Wallace was a friend and said "it's hard to believe that he won't be on television another Sunday night, or at the end of the telephone line to talk through the stories of the week."

"Mike was an old school journalist and one of the most astute people I've ever met," she said in a statement. "The news business will be a different place now, and our lives will be forever changed for having known him. My heart goes out to his family."

Wallace was born May 9, 1918, in Brookline, Mass. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts in 1939 from the University of Michigan.

He is survived by wife Mary Yates Wallace, his son, Chris, a stepdaughter, Pauline Dora, and stepson Eames Yates.

A special tribute to Wallace will be broadcasted on "60 Minutes" April 15, according to CBS News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.