Legendary TV newsman MIKE WALLACE of "60 MINUTES" has died after a lengthy illness at 93.


A CBS spokesman said Wallace died Saturday night.


Wallace was on the staff of "60 Minutes" when it first launched in 1968.


He retired as a regular correspondent in 2006 but continued contributing occasional reports. Wallace’s critics often accused  him of "ambush" interviews and showmanship.


In 1999, Wallace was accused of killing a story on deception in the tobacco industry by giving in to corporate pressure that was dramatized in Michael Mann’s film “The Insider”.


 Wallace built his reputation with fierce interviews with major controversial newsmakers of the day like Ronald Reagan, Malcom X, Richard Nixon, Aytttolah Khomeni and General William Westmoreland who spearheaded US forces in Viet Nam.


In 1985, Westmoreland sued CBS News after Wallace had interviewed him for a TV special alleging that the US Military falsified body counts during the Vietnam War. During the trial when CBS apologized the case was settled.


Conservative groups damned Wallace for slanted reporting, with some calling his career "too many minutes of liberal bias."

Wallace dismissed these charges over the years. In an interview with his son Chris Wallace of Fox News, Mike called the claims "damn foolishness."


Mike’s 60 Minutes colleague Harry Reasoner once said, "There is one thing that Mike can do better than anybody else: With an angelic smile, he can ask a question that would get anyone else smashed in the face."