Mike Wallace is retiring, specifically transitioning to a "correspondent emeritus" status, after 37 years at 60 Minutes.
Wallace, 87, has been a prinicipal correspondent for the show since its premiere Sept. 24, 1968, and will continue to do occasional pieces for the network.
He has been with CBS continuously as a correspondent since 1963, and was also with the network as an entertainment reporter from 1951 to 1955.
"Mike Wallace is 60 Minutes," show founder Don Hewitt once told B&C.
When Hewitt founded the show, he had already tapped Harry Reasoner, but it was decided the show could also use the harder-edged Wallace. He had proven himself a skillful and tough interviewer as far back as the old Night Beat show on Dumont station WABD New York in the mid 1950s.
Wallace called himself "the guy in the black hat," chosen by Hewitt to counter the kindly demeanor of Reasoner. It worked.
After years doing entertainment shows, game shows and announcing, Wallace sent a letter to CBS News management in 1963 saying he had "sanitized" himself of his non-news interests, including game shows like Guess Again and I'll Buy That and even acting roles in such shows such as Studio One and Stand By for Crime.
"Back then you could do--and I did--acting, announcing, narrating and news," said Wallace. "Somehow, back then it seemed there was nothing wrong with it."
Wallace was hired, beginning with a five-minute radio show and a local TV series, Eye on New York. That led to the CBS Morning News With Mike Wallace and other assignments, including covering Vietnam, until 60 Minutes came along and made him into a household name and elevated his tough, in-your-face, interview style to iconic status.
Wallace conducted hundreds of interviews, but he arguably made the most impact with his February 1996 interview with tobacco-company whistleblower Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, which contributed to the revealing of industry secrets that ultimately led to billions in settlements.
Wallace's shelf includes 19 Emmys, three duPont-Columbia University Awards, and three Peabodys, and the veritable host of others.
Wallace said in a statement released by CBS:
"I've often replied, when asked, 'I'll retire when my toes turn up.' Well, they're just beginning to curl a trifle, which means that, as I approach my 88th birthday, it's become apparent to me that my eyes and ears, among other appurtenances, aren't quite what they used to be. And the prospect of long flights to wherever in search of whatever are not quite as appealing.
"But CBS is not pushing me. I’ll be in a comfortable office on the same floor - just around the corner from where I've holed up for the past 43 years - available, when asked, for whatever chore CBS News, 60 Minutes, the CBS Evening News have in mind for me.
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