Veteran newsman and 60 Minutes mainstay Morley Safer died on Thursday at age 84, just days after the CBS newsmagazine celebrated his 46-year run and recently announced retirement with a one-hour special. A cause of death has not yet been noted, though he was said to be in declining health when he announced his retirement on May 11.
“Morley was one of the most important journalists in any medium, ever,” CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves said in a statement. “He broke ground in war reporting and made a name that will forever be synonymous with 60 Minutes. He was also a gentleman, a scholar, a great raconteur — all of those things and much more to generations of colleagues, his legion of friends, and his family, to whom all of us at CBS offer our sincerest condolences over the loss of one of CBS’ and journalism’s greatest treasures.”
Safer joined Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes in 1970, replacing Harry Reasoner. Over the course of his career, he amassed a multitude of accolades, including 12 Emmys (the first one earned for his 1971 investigation of the Gulf of Tonkin incident that began America’s war in Vietnam), four du Pont-Columbia awards, three Peabody awards, the Radio and Television News Directors Association’s Paul White Award (at age 35), three Overseas Press Club awards, two George Polk Memorial awards and a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Government.
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“This is a very sad day for all of us at 60 Minutes and CBS News,” said Jeff Fager, an executive producer and a close friend of Safer’s. “Morley was a fixture, one of our pillars, and an inspiration in many ways. He was a master storyteller, a gentleman and a wonderful friend. We will miss him very much.”