Legendary CBS newsman Mike Wallace, who turned the art of the interview into a lifelong career asking no-holds-barred questions of everyone from world leaders to entertainers and the newsworthy to the notorious, died Saturday night at the age of 93.
“Mike Wallace died overnight. He had been ill for many years,” CBS anchor Bob Schieffer announced on “Face The Nation” Sunday. Schieffer said that Wallace died at about 8 pm ET at a care center in New Haven, Conn.
Wallace, who suffered from dementia in his final years, didn’t retire from “60 Minutes,” his decades-long home, until he was nearly 88 and even then remained at CBS with the title Correspondent Emeritus.
At the time he said, “I’ve often replied, when asked, ‘I’ll retire when my toes turn up.’ Well, they’re just beginning to curl a trifle.”
Still, he told CBS colleague Bob Schieffer, “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. What a voyage of discovery it was.”
Wallace’s son, Chris, the anchor of “FOX News Sunday,” told a National Press foundation dinner in March that his father was not an easy man, The Washington Post reported, but “a truly great reporter. As someone once said, he had an underdeveloped sense of other people’s privacy.”
Journalism consumed virtually his entire life. He was born Myron Wallace on May 9, 1918 in Brookline, Mass., where his father ran a wholesale grocery business and later became an insurance broker.
At the University of Michigan, Wallace walked into the campus radio station and found his calling. After graduating in 1939, he worked for radio outlets in Michigan and by the 1940s was a news writer and broadcaster for the radio station of the Chicago Sun newspaper.
From there he went to the CBS network in New York in 1951 and by 1956 was making guests squirm with his probing questions on the television program “Nightbeat.”
In 1968, Wallace was offered the position of co-host on “60 Minutes,” an about-to-launch prime time news magazine where he stayed until 2006.
According to CBS, his interview subjects included a roll-call of 20th century newsmakers, including George H.W. Bush, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Deng Xiaoping, Manuel Noriega, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Menachem Begin, Anwar el Sadat, Yasir Arafat, the Shah of Iran, King Hussein, Hafez Assad, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, Kurt Waldheim, Vladimir Horowitz, Itzhak Perlman, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Leonard Bernstein, and Johnny Carson among others.