Mike Wallace: A Lion In Winter

A Look At The Extraordinary Highlights Of His Career

Mike Wallace has been at 60 Minutes since the very start. He was 50 years old when the show was first broadcast — and now, at age 88, is ready to retire, sort of.

To mark the occasion, Ed Bradley takes a look back at some of the extraordinary highlights from Wallace's career: a career based on a deceptively simple idea.

"Let's ask the questions that might be on the minds of the people looking in," Wallace said. "They would love to feel that, hey. If I were there in that chair where Wallace is, here's what I would want to know."

Over the decades, Mike Wallace has gone after politicians, murderers, dictators such as Panama's Manuel Noriega — and even Hollywood legends, like Bette Davis.

"It may just have been that you were difficult, Bette," Wallace told the actress.

"No, no, no, no," she insisted.

"Not just difficult, impossible," Wallace replied during the interview.

He's been the heart and soul of 60 Minutes, showing his colleagues, time and again, how it's done.

His encounter with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan was classic Wallace.

"You don't trust the media, you've said so. You don't trust whites, you've said so. You don't trust Jews, you've said so. Well, here I am," Wallace said to Minister Farrakhan.

"So what?" Farrakhan responded,

There was straight talk and no nonsense, but fireworks erupted when the subject turned to corruption in Nigeria.

"No, I will not allow America or you, Mr. Wallace, to condemn them as the most corrupt nation on earth," Farrakhan said to Wallace in a fired-up voice. "How dare you put yourself in that position as a moral judge. I think you should keep quiet."

Farrakhan later told Wallace, "I didn't mean to be so fired up."