Longtime 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer has died just days after he formally retired from the CBS news program, The New York Times reports. Details regarding Safer’s death were not immediately available. He was 84.
Safer was with 60 Minutes for 46 seasons, during which time he covered an array of subjects: He interviewed Jackie Gleason in a bar, became one of the first to report on the health benefits of red wine and helped overturn the life sentence of Lenell Geter, an engineer wrongly convicted for a robbery. Over the course of his career, Safer won three Peabody Awards, 12 Emmys, two George Polk Memorial Awards and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for his 2001 story on an Arizona school geared towards assisting homeless children.
Born in Toronto in 1931, Safer began his journalism career at various organizations in Canada and England. He worked at the London bureaus of Reuters and the Canadian Broadcasting Company before CBS News hired him for their headquarters in the English capital.
In 1965, Safer opened the CBS Saigon bureau and in August of that year, he gave an unprecedented report on the Vietnam War for The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Safer followed a group of Marines on a search-and-destroy mission and captured them using Zippo lighters to burn huts, despite little resistance from the residents of the villages comprising Cam Ne.
After two years in Vietnam, Safer relocated to London in 1967 where he served as CBS’ bureau chief there before being brought to New York in 1970 to co-host 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace. At the time, 60 Minutes was in its third season and struggling in the ratings, but Safer and Wallace helped turned it into a juggernaut — and eventually, an institution.
Safer remained a constant presence on 60 Minutes over the next several decades, even after the departures and deaths of Wallace and creator-producer Don Hewitt. While Safer began to reduce his coverage in 2006, he landed the crucial 2011 interview with Ruth Madoff about her husband Bernie’s infamous Ponzi scheme.
Safer officially announced his retirement from 60 Minutes at the beginning of May. The show aired a tribute to the reporter on Sunday’s episode. Safer is survived by his wife, Jane Fearer, and his daughter Sarah.