Donald Shepard "Don" Hewitt (December 14, 1922 – August 19, 2009)
was an American television news producer and executive, best known for
creating 60 Minutes, the
CBS television news magazine, in 1968, which
at the time of his death, was the longest-running prime-time broadcast
on American television. Under Hewitt's leadership,
60 Minutes was
the only news program ever rated the nation's top-ranked television
program, an achievement it accomplished five times. Hewitt produced
the first televised presidential debate in 1960.
1 Early life
2 College and early career
3 Career at
4 Personal life and death
8 External links
Hewitt was born in New York City, New York, the son of Frieda (née
Pike) and Ely S. Hewitt (changed from Hurwitz or Horowitz). His
father was a Jewish immigrant from Russia, and his mother's family was
German Jewish descent. Hewitt's family moved to Boston,
Massachusetts, shortly after his birth, where his father worked as a
classified advertising manager for the Boston Herald American. His
family later lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He graduated from New
Rochelle High School, in New Rochelle, New York.
College and early career
New York University
New York University and started his journalism career
in 1942 as head copyboy for the New York Herald Tribune. He joined
United States Merchant Marine Academy in 1943. After World War II
ended in 1945, Hewitt returned to his job as copyboy for the Tribune,
then worked for The
Associated Press at a bureau in Memphis,
Tennessee. However, his wife Mary Weaver—whom he married while
working in Memphis—wanted to go to New York City, so he moved
Back in New York City, Hewitt started working at the E.W. Scripps
Company-owned photo agency ACME Newspictures, which was later merged
into co-owned news service United Press
This section needs expansion with: more details about Hewitt's
contributions to 60 Minutes. You can help by adding to it. (August
Soon he received a lucrative offer at the
CBS television network,
which was seeking someone who had "picture experience" to help with
production of television broadcast. Hewitt started at its news
CBS News, in 1948 and served as producer-director of the
network's evening-news broadcast with
Douglas Edwards for fourteen
years. He was also the first director of See It Now, co-produced by
Edward R. Murrow
Edward R. Murrow and
Fred W. Friendly
Fred W. Friendly that started in 1952; his
use of "two film projectors cutting back and forth breaks up the
monotony of a talking head, improves editing, and shapes future news
broadcasts." In 1956, Hewitt was the only one to capture on film
the final moments of the
SS Andrea Doria
SS Andrea Doria as it sank and disappeared
under the water.
Hewitt directed the televised production of the first 1960 U.S.
Presidential candidate debate between Senator
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy and
Richard M. Nixon
Richard M. Nixon on September 26, 1960, at the CBS
studios in Chicago. These were the first presidential-candidate
debates ever televised. He later became executive producer of the CBS
Evening News with Walter Cronkite, helming the famous broadcast of
John F. Kennedy's assassination as the story developed.
"Life and Career of Don Hewitt", April 5, 1994, C-SPAN
He then launched the eight-time Emmy Award-winning show 60 Minutes.
Within ten years, the show reached the top 10 in viewership, a
position it maintained for 21 of the following 22 seasons, until the
Hewitt was a primary figure in the televising of a 1996 60 Minutes
documentary on the tobacco-industry scandal involving the tobacco
company Brown & Williamson, in which the program reported the
allegations of whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand. The scandal was the
inspiration for the 1999 film The Insider. Hewitt was portrayed in the
film by Philip Baker Hall.
Declining ratings at 60 Minutes—after decades of being in the top
10, the show had dropped in rankings to number 20—contributed to
what became a public debate in 2002 about whether it was time for CBS
to replace Hewitt at 60 Minutes. According to The New York Times, Jeff
Fager, producer of
60 Minutes II, was being floated as a possible
replacement, speculation that proved to be accurate. The show was
still generating an estimated profit of more than $20 million a year,
but the decline in viewership and profit meant the show could no
longer "operate as an island unto itself, often thumbing its nose at
management while demanding huge salaries and perquisites." Within a
couple of years, Hewitt stepped aside as executive producer at the age
of 81, signing a ten-year contract with
CBS to be an executive
In January 2010,
60 Minutes dedicated an entire show to the story and
memory of Don Hewitt.
Personal life and death
Hewitt was married three times:
Mary Weaver with whom he had two sons: Jeffrey and Steven.
Frankie Teague Hewitt - American theater producer and founder of the
Ford's Theatre Society
Ford's Theatre Society who was responsible for restoring and reopening
the historic site as a working theater. They had a daughter: Lisa
Gabrielle Hewitt Cassara, former coordinating producer of the
syndicated television show "A Current Affair"; and he adopted her
daughter Jilian Childers from a previous marriage.
Marilyn Berger - American broadcast and newspaper journalist.
Through Berger, Hewitt is the great-uncle of Rob Fishman.
In March 2009, Hewitt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer from which
he died on August 19, 2009, at his home in Bridgehampton, New
1987: Hewitt received the Paul White Award, Radio Television Digital
1988: In addition to several Peabody Awards given to 60 Minutes,
Hewitt was given a personal Peabody Award, for his accomplishments
that have "touch[ed] the lives of just about every American."
1992: Hewitt won the
Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in
1993: Hewitt and
60 Minutes were elected to the National Association
of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
2008: Hewitt was honored with Washington State University's Edward R.
Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement in Broadcast Journalism.
Booknotes interview with Hewitt on Tell Me a Story, April 1, 2001,
Random House published Minute by Minute
(ISBN 0394546415), a look at the history of 60 Minutes. In 2001,
PublicAffairs published Tell Me a Story: Fifty Years and
60 Minutes in
Television (ISBN 1586480170), in which Hewitt chronicles his life
as a newsman.
^ a b c d e Harris, Kathryn (August 19, 2009). "Don Hewitt, Creator,
First Producer of '60 Minutes,' Dies at 86". Bloomberg. Retrieved
August 19, 2009.
^ a b Staff writer (August 19, 2009). "TV News Giant
Don Hewitt Dies
CBS News. Retrieved August 19, 2009.
^ a b c d e f g Rutenberg, Jim (November 25, 2002). "
CBS Wants '60
Minutes' Chief To Hand Over the Stopwatch". The New York Times.
Retrieved August 20, 2009.
^ Steinberg, Jacques (August 20, 2009). "Don Hewitt, Creator of '60
Minutes,' Dies at 86". The New York Times.
^ The Tablet Magazine: "
Don Hewitt on His Judaism - The ‘60
Minutes’ creator died today at 86. For the book ‘Stars of
David,’ he talked about his religion." By Abigail Pogrebin August
^ a b Steinberg, Jacques (August 19, 2009). "Don Hewitt, Creator of 60
Minutes,' Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved August 19,
2009. (Website registration required.)
^ Photograph Identification Guide from the website of art historian
David Rudd Cycleback
^ Sixty Minutes, rebroadcast of Memorial to Don Hewitt, 24 January
^ The Insider (Motion picture). Touchstone Pictures. 1999. Event
occurs at 2:33:32. Although based on a true story, certain elements in
this motion picture have been fictionalized for dramatic effect.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-29. Retrieved
^ a b c New York Times: "Don Hewitt, Creator of ‘60 Minutes,’ Dies
at 86" By JACQUES STEINBERG August 19, 2009
^ New York Times: "WEDDINGS; Lisa G. Hewitt, William Cassara" April
^ Bauder, David (August 19, 2009). "
CBS News pioneer Don Hewitt, who
invented '60s Minutes' dies at 86".
Chicago Tribune. Archived from the
original on August 22, 2009. Retrieved August 19, 2009.
^ "Paul White Award". Radio Television Digital News Association.
Don Hewitt Personal Award Archived June 11, 2010, at the Wayback
Machine. from the
Peabody Award website
^ Arizona State University. "
Walter Cronkite School of
Mass Communication". Retrieved November 23, 2016.
Don Hewitt on IMDb
Appearances on C-SPAN
Don Hewitt - Daily Telegraph obituary
A film clip "The Open Mind - Tell Me A Story . . . In 60 Minutes, Part
I (2001)" is available at the Internet Archive
A film clip "The Open Mind - Tell Me A Story . . . In 60 Minutes, Part
II (2001)" is available at the Internet Archive
TCA Career Achievement Award
Grant Tinker (1985)
Walter Cronkite (1986)
Hill Street Blues
Hill Street Blues (1987)
David Brinkley (1988)
Lucille Ball (1989)
Jim Henson (1990)
Brandon Tartikoff (1991)
Johnny Carson (1992)
Bob Hope (1993)
Charles Kuralt (1994)
Ted Turner (1995)
Angela Lansbury (1996)
Fred Rogers (1997)
Roone Arledge (1998)
Norman Lear (1999)
Dick Van Dyke
Dick Van Dyke (2000)
Sid Caesar (2001)
Bill Cosby (2002)
Carl Reiner (2003)
Don Hewitt (2004)
Bob Newhart (2005)
Carol Burnett (2006)
Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore (2007)
Lorne Michaels (2008)
Betty White (2009)
James Garner (2010)
Oprah Winfrey (2011)
David Letterman (2012)
Barbara Walters (2013)
James Burrows (2014)
James L. Brooks
James L. Brooks (2015)
Lily Tomlin (2016)
Ken Burns (2017)
Television Hall of Fame Class of 1989
Joan Ganz Cooney
International Emmy Founders Award
Jim Henson (1980)
Shaun Sutton /
Roone Arledge (1981)
Michael Landon (1982)
Herbert Brodkin (1983)
David L. Wolper (1984)
David Attenborough (1985)
Donald L. Taffner (1986)
Jacques Cousteau (1987)
Goar Mestre (1988)
Paul Fox (1989)
Joan Ganz Cooney
Joan Ganz Cooney (1990)
Adrian Cowell (1991)
Bill Cosby (1992)
Richard Dunn (1993)
Film on Four (1994)
Don Hewitt (1995)
Reg Grundy (1996)
Jac Venza (1997)
Robert Halmi Sr. (1998)
Hisashi Hieda (1999)
John Hendricks (2000)
Pierre Lescure (2001)
Howard Stringer (2002)
MTV International (2004)
Oprah Winfrey (2005)
Steven Spielberg (2006)
Al Gore (2007)
Dick Wolf (2008)
David Frost (2009)
Simon Cowell (2010)
Nigel Lythgoe (2011)
Ryan Murphy /
Norman Lear /
Alan Alda (2012)
J. J. Abrams
J. J. Abrams (2013)
Matthew Weiner (2014)
Julian Fellowes (2015)
Shonda Rhimes (2016)
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