04/08/2012 AT 11:20 AM EDT
Mike Wallace, the legendary newsman who hosted 60 Minutes
for nearly half a century and interviewed some of the most high-profile subjects of his day, has died, CBS reports.
He was 93.
One of broadcast television's fiercest, most aggressive interviewers, Wallace was one of the founding hosts of 60 Minutes
, television's most popular newsmagazine show.
Bob Scheiffer, host of CBS News's Face the Nation
said Wallace died following a long illness Saturday night in New Haven, Connecticut, surrounded by family, the New York Times
Wallace underwent triple heart-bypass surgery
in 2008, a procedure that doctors called "a great success."
The CBS News family lost another veteran broadcaster in November when Andy Rooney died
at age 92.
In an essay for CBS
, 60 Minutes
colleague Morely Safer wrote that Wallace "took to heart the old reporter's pledge to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. He characterized himself as 'nosy and insistent.' "
"So insistent, there were very few 20th century icons who didn't submit to a Mike Wallace interview. He lectured Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, on corruption. He lectured Yassir Arafat on violence," wrote Safer.
"Mike's energy and nerve paced everyone at 60 Minutes
. His was the defining spirit of the show," Diane Sawyer said of her former colleague in a statement. "He bounded through the halls with joy at the prospect of the new, the true, the unexpected."
Wallace – who traveled alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., and also interviewed Malcolm X during his illustrious career – retired in 2006, but occasionally returned to the show to interview high-profile subjects like Mitt Romney, Jack Kevorkian and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
He told reporters late in his life that if he could write his own epigraph, it would read, "Tough But Fair."