NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Tributes have been pouring in for legendary CBS newsman Mike Wallace who died over the weekend at the age of 93.
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Wallace left an indelible imprint on broadcast journalism during his 68 year-long career. He was tough, relentless, respected and a force to be reckoned with.
He didn’t just interview people. He interrogated them. For half a century, Wallace grilled politicians, dictators, entertainers and athletes. His friend and fellow ”60 Minutes” colleague of 40 years, Morley Safer, last saw him a year and a half ago.
“He was the same old feisty Mike,” said Safer. ”Wonderfully aggressive, wonderfully critical.”
Before becoming an icon on “60 Minutes,” Wallace became known in the 1940s and 50s. He sang, acted in commercials and on variety programs.
“He was always self-conscious about the fact that he had been in commercials, done broadway, done funny stuff on television,” said Safer. ”Then when he decided to become a reporter, he became a reporter and probably among the best in broadcast journalism.”
And then there was “Night Beat,” where audiences got their first glimpse of Wallace’s no holds barred interviewing style.
In 1968, CBS News producer Don Hewitt recruited Wallace to co-host a new program called “60 Minutes.” It would become the most influential prime-time news program in the history of television.
“I felt, my God, you have enough time, you have enough money to do what you want, you’re working with first-rate producers,” Wallace once said. “It was heaven-sent.”
Some criticized Wallace’s use of hidden cameras and surprise confrontations and a few filed lawsuits, one over a “CBS Reports” program on the Vietnam War.
The suit was eventually dismissed, but it plunged Wallace into clinical depression.
Wallace eventually spoke out about his struggle to help others. When he was 87 , he scaled back his work. His final interview was in 2008, with pitcher Roger Clemens.
Since the news of his death, friends, colleagues and fellow journalists have been remembering the legendary investigative reporter.
“Mike was a great friend and a mentor to me,” Bob Schieffer, host of “Face the Nation” told CBS News. “He even gave me a compliment once, and he was one of the real pioneers in television journalism.”
“Tough questions are being asked in Heaven today. RIP Mike Wallace,” Ann Curry posted on Twitter.
“A true original. What an amazing career and remarkable man,” said CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
A special “60 Minutes” broadcast dedicated to Wallace will air on Sunday, April 15.
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