CBS 'This Morning' Entertainment Contributor Eleanor Mondale reports that Sinise learned of the Wallace's death shortly after winning an Emmy Award for his portrayal of the former Alabama governor in the TNT movie George Wallace.
Sinise, whose award was one of three won by the film Sunday night, said he hopes Wallace will be remembered for more than his staunch segregationist ideas.
"It's a strange feeling. I really believe that George Wallace had a spiritual redemption happen to him and possibly it took getting shot to make that happen," Sinise said backstage at the Shrine Auditorium.
Wallace, 79, the one-time controversial segregationist who was paralyzed by a would-be assassin's bullet as he campaigned for the presidency in 1972, died Sunday night in a Montgomery, Ala., hospital.
"If he hadn't been shot, who knows what would have happened and where his life would have gone?" said Sinise, who was named outstanding actor in a miniseries or special.
"What made me want to do the movie was there was a hopeful quality about the end of this film," he said.
"If anything, hopefully some of that will be remembered aside from the schoolhouse door and some other things that happened early in his life. He changed and tried to make amends and tried to repair some of that. I think he did."
In the early 1960s, Wallace vowed "segregation forever" and stood in an Alabama schoolhouse door to keep blacks from enrolling. Ultimately, Wallace won an unprecedented fourth term as governor with the help of black voters.
Also winning an Emmy for George Wallace were Mare Winningham, for supporting actress in a miniseries or special, and director John Frankenheimer.