CBS News legend Mike Wallace, the 60 MINUTES pit-bull reporter whose probing, brazen style made his name synonymous with the tough interview - a style he practically invented for television more than half a century ago - died last night. He was 93 and passed peacefully surrounded by family members at Waveny Care Center in New Canaan, Conn., where he spent the past few years. He also had a home in Manhattan.
"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.
His early 1950s TV series MIKE AND BUFF was shot in Liederkranz Hall (Studio 54), also the home of LOVE OF LIFE.
In the early 1940s Wallace was the announcer for the radio soap operas THE ROAD OF LIFE, MA PERKINS AND THE GUIDING LIGHT. He was known as Myron Wallace at the time.
"Growing up I thought that I was going to be, probably, a lawyer," Wallace told Academy of Achievement in a 2002 interview. "Then I thought maybe I would be an English teacher. Then one day at Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan, I walked into - I guess it was my sophomore year there -- I walked into the radio station operation there. It wasn't really a station. And I was hooked. I suddenly realized that was going to be my métier. I didn't know how I was going to make it, but I knew damn well I was going to be. All I wanted to be was a radio announcer. That was it. I could rip and read the news. I could announce a soap opera. I wound up doing ROAD OF LIFE, the story of Dr. Jim Brent, and THE GUIDING LIGHT. And, I read a hell of a commercial.
I really got my first job in radio for $20 a month n 1939, from in WOOD in Grand Rapids."
A special program dedicated to Wallace will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES next Sunday, April 15.