CBS News correspondent Mike Wallace dies at 93

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Retired CBS News television correspondent Mike Wallace, known for his tough interviewing style, died April 7, at Waveny Care Center in New Canaan, Connecticut, surrounded by his family. He was 93 years old.

Mike Wallace Interviews 1957
Image: Publicity photo, Mike Wallace Interviews.

"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. 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," said CEO and president of CBS Leslie Moonves. CBS plans a tribute broadcast in remembrance of Wallace, scheduled to air on April 15.

It is with tremendous sadness that we mark the passing of Mike Wallace

—Leslie Moonves

Wallace interviewed many famous people including former United States president John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, former first lady Nancy and former president Ronald Reagan. He worked for the CBS News magazine show 60 Minutes for almost 40 years and announced he would step down in 2006, and subsequently interviewed for the program sparingly. His last sit down interview which occurred on January 6, 2007 was with baseball star Roger Clemens.

Wallace won his 21st Emmy Award for his 2006 interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Wallace was 89 years old at the time. Wallace said that interview stuck out to him the most, as well as his interview with Russian-American classical piano virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz, which he later said was his favorite interview.

Wallace said the interview that most affected him was his documentary on the Vietnam War in 1982. In the report, Wallace said General William Westmoreland exaggerated enemy casualty figures so Americans would keep supporting the war. Westmoreland sued CBS (Westmoreland v. CBS) and Wallace for $120 million, and later dropped the lawsuit. The trial pushed Wallace into clinical depression and he admitted in a 2006 60 Minutes tribute to himself, that he attempted suicide by overdosing. Wallace eventually became a spokesperson for the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, formerly known as the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression. He appeared in a 1998 documentary about depression called "Dead Blue."

Wallace attended the University of Michigan, where he delved into the broadcasting world. He graduated in 1939 and became a communication officer in the U.S. Navy for three years during World War II. In the 1940’s and 1950’s Wallace appeared on many television and radio shows doing both news and entertainment broadcasts.

He married a woman he meet at college, Norma Kaphan and they had two boys, Peter and Christopher. The couple divorced in 1948. Wallace then married actress Buff Cobb which ended in divorce. He married twice more to Lorraine Perigord for 28 years and then Mary Yates, his current wife, turned widow.

He is survived by his two sons, wife, stepdaughter Pauline Dora and stepson Eames Yates including several grandchildren.