"60 Minutes" wouldn't exist without Wallace

The life and career of Mike Wallace, 1918-2012
Legendary newsman and "60 Minutes" icon Mike Wallace has died at the age of 93. Fellow "60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer takes a look back at the reporter known for the tough interview.

(CBS News) The legendary "60 Minutes" broadcast wouldn't have lasted if not for Mike Wallace's reporting, "60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer said Monday on "CBS This Morning."

"'60 Minutes" would not still be on the air, but for Mike," Safer said. "People started to tune in to us in big numbers back in the late '70s, early '80s to see what Mike Wallace was going to be up to next. There's no question in my mind that he is - he is really the - along, of course, with Don Hewitt, the (show's) real founder. Don used to say, 'You know, people want to know what adventure Mike's going to go on next.'"

Wallace died Saturday night at the age of 93.

CBS' iconic newsman Mike Wallace dead at 93

Video: Mike Wallace's toughest interviews

When asked about who Wallace really was, Safer said his colleague was "irreverent, irascible, competitive beyond belief, and, at the same time, I know this will surprise people, unsure of himself."

"Mike always felt that he had not paid his dues as a journalist," Safer explained. "And I think it's one of the things that made him such a tough guy, out to prove himself on every story, every day. And it's what - and he was relentless in that. And he's confessed it to a lot of people - including me - that that uncertainty or that even, perhaps, shame of having done commercials and silly stuff haunted him."

"He became a great journalist, as good as anyone, but he had this ability to make people want to watch him and listen to him," "60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft added. "And he was really, I think, the first great television news performer. And he came from a long background. He started in that period of time when there was a very fuzzy line between news and journalism. But he demanded to be watched. And, you know, it's also this combination he had of guile and gall. He was not afraid to ask the outrageous question. That's what made him great. You never knew what was coming next when you watched a Mike Wallace story."

Morley Safer recalls his friend Mike Wallace
Photos: Mike Wallace, 1918-2012
Quoteboard: Journalists, newsmakers react to Mike Wallace's passing

(Watch Morley Safer's report remembering Mike Wallace in the video below.

Wallace was also a legendary competitor - something that sometimes put distance between himself and his colleagues, according to Safer.

"There were a couple of years in there which we didn't talk to each other," Safer said. "Well, Mike - How do I put this? Mike would steal stories."

Kroft added, "Oh, absolutely. And I always thought that the worst thing -- the worst thing than losing a story to Mike was actually getting a story from Mike on the rare occasion that it happened, because the retribution would last for six months."

"Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer said he always remembered a compliment Wallace paid him.

"I still remember it," Schieffer said. "It meant so much to me to know that somebody as good as Mike Wallace thought that maybe I knew something about this story I was covering."

Schieffer said although he didn't work with Wallace much, it might have been better for him. "What people don't understand about a big organization like ours, there are little separate fiefdoms, and all the folks at '60 Minutes,' they're over there and those covering the daily news we were over in another place, and we didn't come together all that much. Listening to them, I think it might have been easier to be a friend of Mike Wallace if you weren't competing with him every day for those stories. But he was such a wonderful person. And he was such a great newsman. And I was very interested in what Morley said about (Wallace that he) was never sure of himself. But aren't the great ones that way?"

For more with Safer, Kroft and Schieffer on their memories of Wallace and his legacy, watch the video in the player above.