Former '60 Minutes' executive producer Don Hewitt dies at 86

Don Hewitt, 86, creator of CBS News’ “60 Minutes” and the man who produced the first-ever U.S. presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, died Aug. 19 of pancreatic cancer.

Hewitt began his journalism career in 1948. His career with CBS News includes being the first executive producer of the “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite,” directing Edward R. Murrow’s “See It Now,” and serving as executive producer of “60 Minutes” for 35 years. He retired from that position in 2004.

While “60 Minutes” executive producer, the show won a variety of honors, including 73 Emmy Awards, 13 DuPont/Columbia University Awards and nine Peabody Awards. Hewitt, too, was the recipient of several industry honors, including a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. In 1987, Hewitt won RTNDA’s Paul White Award. In 2001, he received the RTNDF’s First Amendment Leadership Award, honoring an individual’s work promoting press freedoms.

“The accolades and awards Don Hewitt received over his long and influential career really only begin to tell the tale of his genius,” said RTNDA Chairman Stacey Woelfel. “To say Don was a pioneer in the field really doesn’t do his legacy justice. He was an innovator, a trailblazer and a great mind. He will certainly be missed.”