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Remembering 60 Minutes producer Katy Textor

This week on 60 Minutes, correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi profiles jazz musician Matthew Whitaker, a blind pianist who has been performing around the world since he was 11 years old.

The story is especially meaningful to the team at 60 Minutes because it was the last piece produced by Katy Textor, a longtime producer on the broadcast. Textor died from cancer in June 2019 at 45 years old.

Kate Morris, Katy Textor and Cristina Gallotto

"When you watch Matthew [Whitaker] play, he is so joyful. He is so full of life," Alfonsi said. "And that's Katy. Katy was joyful. Katy was full of life."

Prior to joining 60 Minutes, Textor worked at ABC News, where she was a White House producer, a political reporter during the 2000 presidential race, and worked for their documentary unit. 

Textor joined CBS News in 2003 and began working with iconic 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer a year later. 

Morley Safer with Katy Textor

"He was always pushing, 'You can do it, kiddo. You can do it,'" Textor told 60 Minutes Overtime when Safer retired in 2016. "And 'kiddo' was one of his terms in the office. You knew you were in good with him if you got a 'kiddo.'"

Textor continued collaborating with Safer on many of his reports during his last years at the broadcast. When the pair was shooting Safer's final story, a profile of architect Bjarke Ingels, Textor wanted to get a full sense of Ingels' work, but she knew Safer was too frail to walk around building sites.

"So she had the brilliant idea of putting them on a boat circling Manhattan," said Tanya Simon, executive editor of 60 Minutes. "And so they looked at the skyline, and the architect discussed his work. And that was a genius, but also really compassionate, piece of producing."

Morley Safer, Katy Textor and real estate developer Larry Silverstein Aaron Tomlinson/CBS News

Textor continued producing throughout her illness, working with other correspondents on stories that included the first television interview with the whistleblower who exposed the Theranos blood-testing machine fraud.

When she saw a video of Matthew Whitaker playing piano, she knew she had her next story—but she died before she was able to finish it for the broadcast. 

"The whole team felt pressure that we just wanted to do it well," Alfonsi said. "I like that it's such a joyful story. This is somebody with an amazing spirit. Katy had an amazing spirit."

The video above was originally published on February 23, 2020 and was produced by Brit McCandless Farmer, Sarah Shafer Prediger, and Keith Zubrow. It was edited by Sarah Shafer Prediger.

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