Morley Safer, the longest-running 60 Minutes correspondent, passed away on Thursday at age 84. Born in Toronto, his stellar journalism career spanned nearly seven decades, and CBS announced Safer’s retirement last week after 46 years on the network’s flagship program. Throughout his tenure, Safer covered over 900 stories at CBS in a variety of settings. He was renowned for heading up landmark, hard-hitting investigations as well as charismatic celebrity profiles. Though he maintained a dignified presence, Safer never hesitated to get dirty. He gamely waded through jungles, and one soldier who accompanied Safer described him as “cool as a hog” while bullets flew through the air. Safer’s bittersweet ending as a broadcast journalist arrived with this sendoff from the legend himself:
“After more than 50 years of broadcasting on CBS News and 60 Minutes, I have decided to retire. It’s been a wonderful run, but the time has come to say goodbye to all of my friends at CBS and the dozens of people who kept me on the air. But most of all I thank the millions of people who have been loyal to our broadcast.”
Safer’s colleagues remembered him as a journalist who made each story uniquely his own. The network recently aired a tribute to his body of work — which took on the unenviable task of condensing an unimpeachable career into one hour — and a clip can be seen below. The world will remain a much more uninformed place without him, and the absence of his reliable presence in our living rooms will leave a void not easily filled.
Indeed, the plight of those who knew Safer feels all too real to his audience. It seems almost criminal to attempt a quick summary of Safer’s career, but he will perhaps be best remembered for a 1965 CBS News report from Cam Ne, Vietnam, where he showed U.S. Marines setting fire to villagers’ huts.