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'60 Minutes' icon Mike Wallace dies

Mike Wallace, from CBS News' “60 Minutes” for decades, has died.

Wallace was talented, suave, determined and he never backed down, on screen or off.

“I can be a pain in the neck to work with occasionally,” Wallace once said about himself.

The news legend began his professional life in radio, and his early years in broadcasting were far ranging. He sang, did commercials and worked on variety and game shows, eventually making a breakthrough on a television program called “Nightbeat,” challenging his guests with difficult questions.

For a while Wallace straddled both the entertainment and the news world. But when his teenage son Peter died in a hiking accident in Greece, Wallace decided to concentrate on more meaningful work and signed an exclusive contract with CBS News.

In 1968, CBS News producer Don Hewitt recruited Wallace to co-host “60 Minutes.” In a few short years, the program became the most influential primetime news show in the history of television.

Week after week, the audience tuned in to see Wallace ask probing
The master of the TV interview, Wallace interrogated politicians and criminals, dictators and movie stars. He traveled the world, completing over 800 reports for 60 Minutes.

Some criticized Wallace's use of hidden cameras and surprise confrontations as "ambush journalism." A few of the program's targets filed lawsuits, including General William Westmoreland who sued CBS for libel over a documentary Wallace did on the Vietnam War.

The two sides settled, but the controversy launched Wallace into a suicidal depression.

But Wallace decided to talk about his struggle to help others. “I will not retire, I don't believe, until my toes turn up,” Wallace said.

When Wallace was 87 years old, he decided to scale back his work at “60 Minutes.” He continued to do occasional reports.

But after his 2008 interview with pitcher Roger Clemens, his poor health forced him to step away for good.

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