Four days after his retirement from CBS News, Morley Safer has died. He was 84.
Safer, who had been in declining health, watched his 60 Minutes tribute this past Sunday, from home in Connecticut.
He cut back his work at 60 Minutes about 10 years ago, but still kept his office on West 57th St. He’d been a correspondent on the show for 46 years and with CBS News for 52 years. His last report — number 919 — aired in March. It was a profile of Danish Architect Bjarke Ingels and was inspired by looking out the office window at a strange-looking building going up down the street. From the CBS News obituary:
A dashing figure in his checked shirt, polka dot tie and pocket square, Morley Safer — even his name had panache – was in his true element playing pool with Jackie Gleason, delivering one of his elegant essays aboard the Orient Express or riffing on Anna Wintour, but he also asked the tough questions and did the big stories. In 2011, over 18.5 million people watched him ask Ruth Madoff how she could not have known her husband Bernard was running a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme. The interview was headline news and watercooler talk for days.
“Morley was one of the most important journalists in any medium, ever,” said CBS Chairman and CEO, Leslie Moonves. “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 us at CBS offer our sincerest condolences over the loss of one of CBS’ and journalism’s greatest treasures.”
“This is a very sad day for all of us at 60 Minutes and CBS News,” adds Jeff Fager, the executive producer of 60 Minutes. “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.”
When his colleague Bob Simon died in February, 2015, Safer was a part of the special that honored him. At Mike Wallace‘s memorial service in 2012, Safer said his sometime nemesis “brought the same zeal to a story as he did to a penny ante poker game.” When 60 Minutes creator and longtime ep Don Hewitt died in 2009, Safer called him, “The writer’s best friend.” And when Andy Rooney retired in Sept. 2011, and passed away 5 weeks later, Safer spoke of Rooney’s “rich, eccentric legacy.” A man who filled American homes “like a piece of the Sunday furniture. Like a portrait on the wall. Like the TV itself.”
Now it’s Safer who will remembered for his contribution to American TV journalism. 52 years of it.