Don Hewitt (1922-2009)

The general public may not recognize his name but it’s likely most television viewers have seen his most famous creation at least once: 60 Minutes. Don Hewitt began his television career at CBS in 1948 and had a hand in Douglas Edwards With the News, See It Now, Person to Person and The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. But it is influential newsmagazine 60 Minutes, first broadcast on September 24th, 1968, for which he will be remembered in the annals of television history. Hewitt passed away earlier this week at the age of 86.

Here’s what The New York Times had to say about the premiere of 60 Minutes in a review published September 25th:

The Columbia Broadcasting System’s new alternate-week news magazine, “60 Minutes,” is something television has long needed. Last night’s edition explored only a few of the many possibilities open to an imaginative editor, but it was a worthwhile introduction.

[…]

Not all the segments were of equal interest, but one doesn’t expect that in a magazine.

The one-hour show is produced by Don Hewitt. Harry Reasoner and Mike Wallace were the hosts. [1]

Obituaries can be found at The New York Times, Variety and CBS News. His entry in The Encyclopedia of Television (1st Ed.) can be found at The Museum of Broadcast Communications website.

Sources:
“TV: C.B.S. News Magazine opens.” New York Times. 25 Sep. 1968: 94.


3 Comments

  • Cee Jay says:

    20/20 on ABC and Dateline on NBC have Don Hewitt to thank because if it weren’t for his foresight in creating 60 Minutes those two shows would never have been…he was a television pioneer…May he rest in peace

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Hewitt also supervised the first Kennedy-Nixon presidential debate telecast (from WBBM, the CBS affiliate in Chicago) in September 1960.

    Unless I miss my guess, Jack Gould, the “dean of TV critics” who submitted his reviews to the NEW YORK TIMES for almost 25 years, was responsible for the above “lukewarm” opinion of “60 MINUTES”‘s first telecast. He didn’t think much of “THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB” when it premiered in October 1955, and “shrugged” off “THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW” in September 1970. Gould was a great critic, but sometimes, his first impressions were “off”.

    I suggest you read Hewitt’s autobiography, “Tell Me a Story”….it’s the best memorial I can think of right now.

    As for “20/20” and “DATELINE”, they’re more akin to CBS’ “48 HOURS MYSTERY” these days, and bear little resemblance to the “60 MINUTES” wannabes they originally intended to emulate. ONLY “60 MINUTES” has stayed faithful to its original format.

  • Cee Jay says:

    Well Barry you know the old saying about teachers (THOSE YOU CAN DO, THOSE YOU CAN’T TEACH), I have a similar saying about critics (THOSE THAT CAN DO, THOSE THAT WISH THEY COULD BECOME CRITICS)

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