Don Hewitt, 1922-2009

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Television legend Don Hewitt, who worked at CBS for over 50 years and created the television show “60 Minutes,” died of pancreatic cancer on August 19, 2009. He was 86 years old.

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As a television director and producer in the medium’s early days, Hewitt helped shape the broadcasts of newsmen Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. He also produced the televised debate between presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon — the first of its kind.

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Hewitt in 1995. From the CBS obituary: “Even when CBS lost its NFL contract in 1994, putting its former lead-in audience on another network to compete against it, 60 Minutes was still a huge hit, finishing number six for the 1994-95 season.”

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In the 1999 film “The Insider,” actor Philip Baker Hall (second from right) portayed Hewitt, who served as the executive producer of “60 Minutes” until 2004. The film was a critique of the show’s handling of a tobacco industry expose.

From CBS: “60 Minutes’ lowest point, said Hewitt, was the Jeffrey Wigand story, the interview with the highest-ranking tobacco executive to turn whistleblower that was held back by CBS management in fear of a $10 billion lawsuit that could have bankrupted the company.”

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Hewitt with “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft in 2003.

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Hewitt and wife Marilyn Berger in 2003.

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Hewitt “changed the course of broadcast news…by fusing journalism and show business as never before.” (from The New York Times)

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CBS journalist Bob Schieffer and Hewitt attended Walter Cronkite’s funeral in July.

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Hewitt and wife Marilyn at Cronkite’s funeral.

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Hewitt in 1995.

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From left to right: Peggy Siegal, Hewitt, Barbara Walters, and George Clooney.

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Hewitt with George Stephanopoulos and Connie Chung in 1999.

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Hewitt, Dina Merrill, and Candice Bergen at the 20th Annual Academy of the Arts Lifetime Achievement Awards Gala.

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