60 Minutes lost a legend this week when Morley Safer, the broadcast's longest-serving correspondent, died at age 84.
One of the first things we resolved to do when we launched 60 Minutes Overtime in 2010 was hang out with Morley Safer in his wonderfully cluttered office and ask him to tell some stories from his 40-plus seasons on 60 Minutes. Imagine our delight when he invited our cameras in and cleared off a spot on his couch.
In the 2011 video above, Overtime editor Ann Silvio spoke with Safer about some of his most memorable adventures for the broadcast, from his profiles of Jackie Gleason (1984) and Dolly Parton (2009), to his more offbeat stories like "Tango Finlandia" (1993) and "It's a Long Way to Furudu" (1979).
These are just a few of the pieces that are commonly referred to as "classic Morley stories" in the hallways and screening rooms of 60 Minutes. Safer told Ann Silvio that it wasn't enough for his subjects to be famous. "A kind of semi-rule around here, or around in this office, is the character, the person, has to be at least as interesting as the what he or she has done," he said.
One of those interesting people was the actress Katharine Hepburn,whose interview almost didn't happen.
"I'd gone to London to talk her into doing the interview. And she finally agreed," Safer told Silvio. "And she said, 'What time?' And I said, 'Noon.' And she said, 'If you're there at 12:01, I won't let you in.' And sure enough, I ran into some horrific traffic. I ended up jumping out of a cab and sprinting and arriving, and she looked at her watch and said, 'If you'd been one second more, I wouldn't have let you in. And I mean it.'"
For Safer, every story was a chance to get inside someone's head or experience something new. "The great joy of this work is that you're really doing what you want to do, and mostly it's fun" he told Silvio. "What would I do if I wasn't doing this? I have not a clue."