CHICAGO (CBS) — Veteran CBS News and “60 Minutes” correspondent Mike Wallace, who started his career in Chicago, has passed away at the age of 93.
Wallace, a pit-bull reporter known for his tough interviewing style, died peacefully surrounded by his family at Waveny Care Center in New Canaan, Conn., where he spent the past few years.
His reputation as a tough interview was so well-known, it was often said that the most dreaded words in the English language were “Mike Wallace is here.”
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports
Wallace got his start in news in Chicago in the 1940s, writing for the Chicago Sun newspaper, and reporting for the now-defunct WMAQ-AM radio.
He won 21 Emmy Awards during his legendary career and was considered a pioneer of the hard-hitting, relentless interviewing style that he brought to “60 Minutes” when it was launched in 1968.
“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,” said Leslie Moonves, president and CEO, CBS Corporation.
“All of us at CBS News and particularly at ’60 Minutes’ owe so much to Mike. 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,” said Jeff Fager, chairman CBS News and executive producer of “60 Minutes.”
A special program dedicated to Wallace will be broadcast on “60 Minutes” next Sunday, April 15.
WBBM’s Nick Young, a former colleague, said the Wallace you saw on “60 Minutes” was the same guy off the air.
Young worked in the CBS Radio newsroom in New York, just down the hall from the “60 Minutes” studios, so the two crossed paths a number of times during Young’s 20 years at the network.
“Here was a man who had been on television for 50-odd years, and in a variety of capacities,” Young said. “He understood instinctively what the needs were and he was able to put all of his thoughts in such a way that it aided in telling that story, especially for radio.”
He described Wallace as serious-minded and dedicated.
Young said he could see the passion that Wallace brought to his work when Young would occasionally interview Wallace about stories he was working on.
“You just had the sense that Mike was a very serious-minded guy – especially about his work – that he didn’t suffer fools lightly, and that he would do what it took to get the story,” Young said. “The passion that he brought to his work, you could sense that it was there at all times.”
Young said Wallace was a fit person – physically and mentally – something that Young credits for Wallace looking younger than his age. According to Young, Wallace never looked his age.
“He looked as tough as he came across, in that sense. I mean he was, he seemed to be in very good shape and … his mind was very sharp,” Young said.