Veteran broadcast journalist Mike Wallace dies at 93
Mike Wallace, a pioneering broadcaster and longtime "60 Minutes" correspondent noted for his tough interviews, died Saturday night at the age of 93 in a care facility in Connecticut. Vivian Lee reports.
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Mike Wallace, a pioneering broadcaster and longtime "60 Minutes" correspondent noted for his tough interviews, died Saturday night at the age of 93 in a care facility in Connecticut.
Wallace, who also had a home in Manhattan, became one of the original correspondents and hosts of CBS' "60 Minutes" in 1968.
He brought the hit newsmagazine many exposes and exclusives, and his charming, in-your-face style earned him the nickname "Mike Malice" early in a journalism career spanning 60 years.
The broadcaster retired as a regular correspondent in 2006, but continued to occasionally contribute exclusive reports and won his 21st and last Emmy Award at age 89.
Wallace, who spent hours preparing for interviews, also won five Peabody awards and five DuPont-Columbia journalism awards.
He endured lawsuits, critics who said the press was too liberal, and counted President Ronald Reagan and former First Lady Nancy Reagan among his closest friends.
Born in Brookline, Mass. to Russian immigrant parents in 1918, Wallace first worked in radio in the 1940s before starring in his first TV show in 1949.
He first worked for CBS in 1951, became a morning news anchor and produced a 1959 documentary about the Nation of Islam, "The Hate That Hate Produced," in which Wallace got Malcolm X to make a chilling prediction.
When Wallace asked Malcolm X, "Are you in the least bit afraid of what may happen to you after making these revelations," the civil rights leader responded, "Oh yes. I probably am a dead man already."
Wallace reported for Walter Cronkite's famed evening news program from Vietnam, Washington and the 1968 campaign trail, before moving on to "60 Minutes."
In one of Wallace's most famous "60 Minutes" interviews, he asked the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, during the Iran hostage crisis, to comment on a remark by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
"And he calls you, imam — forgive me, his words, not mine — a 'lunatic,'" Wallace told the shocked ayatollah.
Wallace also brought entertainer Barbra Streisand to tears during a 1991 interview, when he asked the performer about her personal relationships.
Wallace: You know what your mother told me about her relationship with you? [...] She says, 'You haven't got time to be close to anyone,' quote.
Streisand: She says 'to her,' or to anyone?
Wallace: To anyone. Your own mother.
In a controversial 1998 piece, Wallace broadcasted video taken by euthanasia advocate Dr. Jack Kevorkian of an assisted suicide.
Former New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens was the subject of Wallace's last "60 Minutes" interview, and it was the first time the baseball great opened to the media after the Mitchell Report accused him of using steroids.
Wallace once joked he would only retire when his "toes turn up."
He is survived by his wife, Mary Yates Wallace, his son, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, and a stepdaughter and stepson.
After another son, Peter Wallace, accidently died at age 19 in 1962, Mike Wallace said he was inspired to give up his work on entertainment programs and concentrate on serious journalism.