Journalist Shana Alexander Dead

shana alexander
Trailblazing journalist and author Shana Alexander, whose on-air verbal skirmishes with conservative James J. Kilpatrick on CBS' "60 Minutes" were so popular they were spoofed on "Saturday Night Live," died Thursday of cancer, her family confirmed. She was 79.

Alexander died at an assisted living facility in Hermosa Beach, her niece Hannah Bentley said Thursday night.

Alexander wrote for numerous magazines including Newsweek and National Geographic and was the first female staff writer employed by Life magazine. She was also the first female editor at McCall's magazine.

But she was best known for her "Point-Counterpoint" segments with Kilpatrick at the end of each "60 Minutes" broadcast in the late 1970s.

"She was one of the first female journalists to become a big-time name in television journalism, when women were few and far between," the show's founding executive producer, Don Hewitt, told The Associated Press Thursday night.

"She was one of the people who got '60 Minutes' off the ground in the early days," Hewitt added. "The 'Point-Counterpoint' piece was extremely popular."