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August 20, 2009

CBS 60 minutes creator Don Hewitt dies

By conrad

Don Hewitt, creator of the pioneering news program 60 Minutes and eight time Emmy Award winner, has died of cancer aged 86.

He is the second giant of the US news media to die in recent days. Robert Novak, the US political columnist and conservative pundit, died on Tuesday aged 78 from brain cancer.

Starting his career with CBS News in 1948, Hewitt went on to become the first director of the Edward R Murrow-hosted documentary show, See It Now.

In 1960 he produced the television debate between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon, the first ever television debate between two Presidential candidates. He also created the CBS Evening News, formerly hosted by Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather.

Born in New York City in 1922, he made his start in journalism as head copyboy for the New York Herald Tribune.

After the Second World War, during which he served as a Merchant Marine, he joined the Memphis bureau of the Associated Press, and was later hired at CBS as an associate director.

His infamous decision to side with CBS management’s decision not to broadcast the interview with “big tobacco” whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand was later portrayed by Philip Baker Hall in the Michael Mann directed film, The Insider.

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Hewitt is survived by his third wife, Marilyn Berger, his sons Jeffrey and Steve and his daughter Lisa.

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