(CBS News) Mike Wallace died on April 7, 2012, at the age of 93. In journalism circles, he was thought to be the best television interviewer the medium has ever known, with a famously aggressive style that he perfected in the late 1950s. He stepped down from "60 Minutes" at the end of the 2005-06 season -- his 38th on the television broadcast that his reputation and technique helped build into the most successful in history.
His journalistic triumphs continued after his retirement, including a headline-making interview with accused steroid user Roger Clemens in January of 2008, just four months before his 90th birthday. His sit-down with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, in August 2006 resulted in his 21st Emmy award. In June 2007, he got the first interview with euthanasia advocate Dr. Jack Kevorkian upon his release from prison. He also broke news with the interview of ex-Major Leaguer and admitted steroid user Jose Canseco in February of 2005. Later that year he also interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2002, he obtained an exclusive interview with John Nash, the mentally ill genius on whose life the controversial Academy Award-winning film "A Beautiful Mind" was based. Wallace arranged for Louis Farrakhan and the eldest daughter of Malcolm X, who has accused Farrakhan of indirect complicity in her father's assassination, to be interviewed together for"60 Minutes." The meeting, broadcast in May 2000, resulted in front-page news when Farrakhan admitted that his words might have egged on the assassins.
His third book, "Between You and Me," written with Gary Paul Gates, was published in October 2005 (Hyperion). He also collaborated with Fordham University journalism professor Beth Knobel on the guidebook for young journalists, "Heat and Light: Advice for the Next Generation of Journalists (Random House 2010).
In 1998, Wallace had one of the biggest scoops of the year: he was the only reporter to accompany UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to Iraq on his mission to prevent war between Saddam Hussein and the Allies. His exclusive interview with Annan was broadcast on "60 Minutes" on Feb. 22, 1998. His controversial report on Dr. Jack Kevorkian in November of that year, in which "60 Minutes" broadcast Kevorkian's own videotape showing him injecting lethal drugs into a terminally ill man, spurred debate and media coverage for weeks.
Wallace's no-holds-barred interviewing technique and enterprising reportage were legend and his numerous and timely interviews read like a who's who of newsmakers: George H.W. Bush, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Deng Xiaoping, Manuel Noriega, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Menachem Begin, Anwar el-Sadat, Yasir Arafat, the Shah of Iran, King Hussein, Hafez Assad, Muammar Qaddafi, Kurt Waldheim, H. R. Haldeman, Vladimir Horowitz, Itzhak Perlman, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Leonard Bernstein, and Johnny Carson among many others.
Wallace's experience as a newsman began in the 1940s, when he was a radio news writer and broadcaster for the Chicago Sun. After serving as a naval communications officer during World War II, he became a news reporter for radio station WMAQ Chicago. He first joined CBS in 1951, left the network in 1955 and returned in 1963, when he was named a CBS News correspondent.
His numerous television credits include "Night Beat" (1956-57) and "The Mike Wallace Interview" (1957-60). From 1959 to 1961, he anchored the Peabody Award-winning public-affairs series "Biography," which focused on a wide range of historical figures, including Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Helen Keller, Mark Twain, Babe Ruth and Clarence Darrow. His book "Mike Wallace Asks," a compilation of interviews from "Night Beat" and "The Mike Wallace Interview," was published in 1958. His memoir, "Close Encounter," co-authored with Gary Paul Gates, was published in 1984.
Wallace reported from Vietnam in 1962 and, after returning to CBS, covered the war several times between 1967 and 1971. In September 1990, CBS News presented a one-hour special, "Mike Wallace Then and Now," which recalled Wallace's 40 years of reporting and interviewing. In June 1992, he anchored the CBS News/Washington Post-Newsweek co-production "Watergate: The Secret Story," which marked the 20th anniversary of the break-in at the Watergate complex. In December 1993, he anchored "CBS Reports: 1968," which chronicled that watershed year in U.S. history. His news-making interview with the highest-ranking tobacco executive ever to turn whistleblower, Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, who revealed critical tobacco industry secrets for the first time on television, was broadcast on "60 Minutes" and the CBS Evening News in February 1996.
In September 2003, he received a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. In May 2002, he won the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award, given by Quinnipiac College, for his journalistic contributions to free speech. Wallace won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award grand prize and television first prize in 1996 for the "CBS Reports" broadcast "In the Killing Fields of America" (January 1995), a three-hour report he co-anchored on violence in America. His other professional honors include 21 Emmy Awards, three Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three George Foster Peabody Awards, a Robert E. Sherwood Award, a Distinguished Achievement Award from the University of Southern California School Of Journalism and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in the international broadcast category.
Wallace was elected a fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi (November 1975), and was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters by the University of Massachusetts (1978). In May 1987, he received an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Michigan and, in 1989, an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Pennsylvania. He was honored in September 1989 by Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communications for his lifetime contribution to radio and television. In June 1991, he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame and, in September 1991, he was honored by the Radio/Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) with the Paul White Award. In 1993, he was named Broadcaster of the Year by the International Radio and Television Society.
Wallace was born May 9, 1918, in Brookline, Mass. He was graduated from the University of Michigan in 1939 with a B.A. degree. His son, Chris, followed in his father' s steps and became a journalist.; he is currently the anchor of "Fox News Sunday."