Mike Wallace, Iconic American Journalist, Dies at 93

Posted April 8th, 2012 at 3:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Mike Wallace — an entertainer in the early days of television who rose to become one of America's best known broadcast journalists — has died. He was 93.

In a statement Sunday, the CBS network said Wallace died Saturday at an extended care facility in Connecticut after a long illness.

Wallace spent nearly 40 years on the ground-breaking CBS news magazine “60 Minutes.” There, he interviewed hundreds of the world's most prominent public figures, from U.S. presidents, generals, artists and athletes to international dignitaries, writers, playwrights and Hollywood stars. He also interviewed scores of lesser-known figures, including suspected cheats, fraudsters, and many others alleged to have used dubious means to achieve wealth and fame.

CBS on Sunday cited Wallace's “extraordinary contribution as a broadcaster,” calling him “a force within the television industry throughout its existence.”

Wallace's relentless style drew millions of viewers and fans to Sunday night television, where “60 Minutes” has been a mainstay since its first broadcast segment in 1968. But that style also drew criticism and a highly publicized lawsuit stemming from the Vietnam War.

That suit, brought by army General William C. Westmoreland — the commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam — sought $120 million in damages for a Wallace-anchored “60 Minutes” report alleging the general deceived the American public by under-counting the enemy in Vietnam. The case went to trial in 1984, and months later Westmoreland withdrew the suit.

Wallace later revealed in an interview with colleague Morley Safer that he had attempted suicide during the lawsuit crisis. He later spoke repeatedly about his recovery from depression and said the years after the attempt were some of the most productive of his long life.