'60 Minutes' Icon Mike Wallace Dead at 93
NEW YORK -- Mike Wallace, who spent four decades as a hard-hitting, provocative news correspondent on "60 Minutes," has died, CBS reported Sunday. He was 93.

Wallace died Saturday night "peacefully surrounded by family members at Waveny Care Center in New Caanan, Connecticut, where he spent the past few years," CBS said in a statement.

"For half a century, he took on corrupt politicians, scam artists and bureaucratic bumblers," CBS News said on its website. "... Wallace took to heart the old reporter's pledge to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. He characterized himself as 'nosy and insistent.'"

During Sunday's night episode of "60 Minutes," Morley Safer called Wallace "a one-man truth squad with a remarkable gift for getting to the very core of a story."

"More than anyone else, he was responsible for the continuing success of '60 Minutes,'" Safer said. "We're all in his debt."

Hours earlier, Safer described his longtime colleague to CNN as someone who was "never dull," "fearless" and "tenacious," driven to get a scoop and to the heart of events, issues and people that shaped the world.

"Mike was irrepressible. You could never ... knock him down, he would bounce right back up," said Safer, expressing a deep admiration for a man whom he'd often jostle against for stories. "The fact is he was nosier than everybody else and more insistent, and more successful at being nosy."

Scott Bronstein, a CNN senior investigative producer who worked with Wallace as a "60 Minutes" staff producer during the late 1990s, remembered him as "an unbelievable journalist" with high standards and unique talent as an interviewer.

"He was inspiring," said Bronstein. "He made you want to do your best work. He always demanded you to report more and more. He was such a marvel, the way he could do an interview."

When they last met over a year ago, Wallace was in high spirits but "beginning to fail," said Safer. He'd suffered from dementia in recent years, according to Larry King, longtime host of CNN's "Larry King Live."

"They didn't come any better," King said. "He was a glorious human being, a wonderful raconteur, a great journalist, a great host, an interviewer with his own style. ... Mike Wallace was a guy, when he's on, you can't hit the clicker."

Wallace was already a veteran of the "CBS Morning News with Mike Wallace" and had covered most of the 1960s' major news stories, including several assignments to Vietnam, when he was hired as a correspondent for the new television show "60 Minutes."

The show debuted in September 1968. During Wallace's four-decade career on "60 Minutes," he "sealed his reputation as a hard-charging, no-holds-barred interviewer," according to the Knight-Wallace Foundation at the University of Michigan, which Wallace supported.

"His most memorable moments at '60 Minutes' have often been news-making events in their own rights."

"There were very few 20th century icons who didn't submit to a Mike Wallace interview," CBS said. "He lectured Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, on corruption. He lectured Yasser Arafat on violence. He asked the Ayatollah Khomeini if he were crazy."

Wallace not only "loved villains because they made such great copy," he had a unique ability to get them to open up to him, according to Safer.

"He had the charm to talk them onto the broadcast initially, and the tenacity to eviscerate them or allow them to eviscerate themselves," said Safer.

Wallace's 2005 interview with Jose Canseco "broke the Major League Baseball scandal wide open," according to the Knight-Wallace Foundation. He also interviewed baseball's Roger Clemens in 2008, Wallace's last sit-down interview, CBS said.

In 2006, Wallace became a correspondent emeritus for "60 Minutes" and stopped appearing regularly. In 2008, he underwent successful triple-bypass heart surgery.