How Morley Safer almost gave Don Hewitt a heart attack

Remembering Morley Safer
Remembering Morley Safer

Longtime 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer,who diedMay 19 at the age of 84, had spent an astounding 46 years on the program, joining just two years after it launched. Safer changed war reporting when he revealed video of U.S. servicemen setting fire to Vietnamese villages in 1965. But he also was an artist, and among the first things he did when he was on the road was to paint a still life of his hotel room. Here, 60 Minutesexecutive producer Jeff Fager remembers his friend and colleague:

Some of the most fun I had with Morley was pranking each other or pranking other people. Morley and Mike Wallace got [60 Minutes creator and executive producer] Don Hewitt so badly that they thought he might have a heart attack. They had him overhear this plot that they — Mike and Morley — had been approached by a private equity firm that wanted to buy 60 Minutes away from CBS, only on the condition that Don Hewitt wouldn't be part of the purchase. When they realized how upset he was, Morley tried to tell him it was a joke. But Don wouldn't believe him and got even more worked up. And it scared Morley. He really thought Don would have a heart attack because he was so upset. So there was a lot of pranking. It was part of what made Morley fun to be with. He wanted to have fun. He threw coffee at me once, and he turned it into art. I ducked when he threw the coffee, and it went all over his curtain. So 10 years later, when they finally took the dirty curtains down, he cut that section out and framed it. And he called it Weak Coffee on Cheap Curtain 1989.

See photos of Morley Safer through the years:

This story first appeared in the June 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Read More: '60 Minutes' Honors Retiring Correspondent Morley Safer