Harry Reasoner, the snowy-haired newsman who lent dry wit to "60 Minutes" and was paired unhappily with Barbara Walters in the 1970s in network television's first male-female evening anchor team, is dead at 68.
Reasoner died Tuesday at Norwalk Hospital in Norwalk, Conn., where he had been hospitalized since June 11. Doctors had removed a blood clot from his brain, and he also suffered from pneumonia.Reasoner joined CBS in New York in 1956 and became known for his light touch with the news and a warm, self-effacing style. He was a three-time Emmy winner and in 1968 became an original member of the "60 Minutes" lineup along with Mike Wallace.
CBS interrupted its prime-time programming to announce his death.
"Reasoner was a journalist who we all envied," anchorman Dan Rather said. "His style, his ability to see through what the real story is. All of us at CBS will miss him."
Reasoner left CBS in 1970 to be co-anchor of "The ABC Evening News" with Howard K. Smith. In 1975, Walters was hired for $1 million a year as his co-anchor, and an angry Reasoner reportedly threatened to quit. He returned to CBS in 1978.
Walters said Tuesday: "Harry and I had our differences many, many years ago but they were never personal and they never lingered. His death saddens us all. He was a superb journalist and a gentle and humorous man."
On May 19, during his 15th season with "60 Minutes," Reasoner, whose white hair, broad nose and jowly grin were well known to viewers, stepped down to become "editor emeritus."
"60 Minutes" newsman Morley Safer said Reasoner demonstrated to journalists "that it is possible to excel while not being an egotistical fool."
A native of Dakota City, Iowa, Reasoner studied journalism at Stanford University and the University of Minnesota.
He was drafted into the Army in 1942 and served until 1946. Also in the 1940s, he worked as a rewrite man and drama critic for the now-defunct Minneapolis Times.
As a TV reporter, he covered racial strife in Little Rock, Ark., in 1958, the U.S. tour of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1959 and President Dwight Eisenhower's Far East tour in 1960.
Survivors include his wife, Lois, of Westport, Conn., and two sons and five daughters from his first marriage.