August 19, 2009

’60 Minutes’ creator Don Hewitt dead at 86

Award-winning U.S. news producer and 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt died Wednesday, CBS said. He was 86.

Marilyn Berger, his wife of 30 years, told The New York Times he died of cancer at his home in Bridgehampton, N.Y.

Hewitt's journalism career spanned more than six decades and took place mainly at CBS where he helped usher in the age of television journalism and directed newsmen such as Edward R. Murrow, Mike Wallace and Walter Cronkite.

Hewitt, who was born in New York and raised in the suburb of New Rochelle, started out as a copy boy for the New York Herald Tribune and went on to direct and produce the 1953 television coverage of the coronation of England's Queen Elizabeth, as well as the first televised presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960, CBS noted.

His real monument is 60 Minutes, the network quoted the late broadcaster Roone Arledge as saying when he presented Hewitt with the Founder's Emmy Award in 1995. He is truly an innovator in this business"¦ (the news magazine) is an innovative format no one had done before. It's been copied all over the world "¦ . He's been a leader in our industry. He has inspired all sorts of people.

Hewitt was also the author of two books -- 2001's Tell Me a Story: Fifty Years and 60 Minutes in Television and 1985's Minute by Minute.

Besides his wife, he is survived by four children.