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Mike Wallace is an interviewer and reporter who has been working in TV and radio since 1939. He joined the program 60 Minutes in 1968.
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Wallace asked singer Barbra Streisand about spending two decades in psychoanalysis, saying "What is she trying to find out that takes 20 years?" He also asked comedian Johnny Carson about a possible drinking problem. One of his most controversial segments, however,
came in 1998 when he included footage of an assisted suicide of a terminally ill patient by outspoken euthanasia supporter Dr. Jack Kevorkian.
Wallace's success did not come without its share of challenges. He was personally devastated by a libel suit by General William Westmoreland over a CBS News special Wallace had done on the Vietnam War. The 1982 program claimed that Westmoreland had inflated enemy casualty figures, a charge that Westmoreland disputed. "The Westmoreland affair, professionally and personally, was one of the most difficult times of my life," he later said. The resulting trial in 1984 sent the distinguished newsman into a terrible depression. Wallace later said that he attempted suicide during this difficult time.
Another professional setback came in 1995 when Wallace fought with his own network over a news story. He interviewed Jeffrey Wigand, a former research head for a tobacco company, for a story on misleading industry practices. This whistleblower gave Wallace some startling information on nicotine, but higher-ups at the network refused to air the story for fear of lawsuits. The incident became the basis for the 1999 film The Insider with Christopher Plummer as Wallace and Russell Crowe as Wigand.
No matter what controversies he stirred up or roadblocks he faced, Wallace tirelessly strove to the bottom of each story for nearly 40 years. As fellow 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer once explained, Wallace "took to heart the old reporter's pledge to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." For his impressive work, Wallace won numerous accolades, including 21 Emmy Awards.
Wallace stepped away from his full-time role on 60 Minutes in 2006. Not ready to give up chasing stories completely, he made several appearances on the show. One of his biggest interviews from this time was Dr. Jack Kevorkian who had just been released from prison. In January 2008, Wallace's final 60 Minutes interview aired. He talked with disgraced baseball star Roger Clemens about his alleged steroid use. He underwent surgery for a triple bypass around this time, and his health began to decline. Some reports indicate that Wallace suffered from dementia. He spent his last years at a care facility in New Canaan, Connecticut.
On April 7, 2012, Wallace passed away "peacefully surrounded by family members." He is survived by his fourth wife Mary, his son Chris, stepdaughter Pauline Dora, stepsons Eames and Angus Yates, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Chris Wallace has carried on the family's name in journalism as the host of Fox News Sunday.
Friends, fans and colleagues responded to the news with great sadness. "His extraordinary contribution as a broadcaster is immeasurable and he has been a force within the television industry throughout its existence," said Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp.
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