NEW YORK (AP) _ Mike Wallace, the hard-driving reporter often seen as the symbol of CBS' ``60 Minutes,'' said Tuesday he will stop being a regular correspondent for the show.
Wallace, 87, was careful not to say he's fully retiring and CBS News President Sean McManus referred to him as a ``correspondent emeritus.''
But it is clear an era is coming to a close at television's leading newsmagazine, which Wallace joined at its start in September, 1968.
``I've often replied, when asked, `I'll retire when my toes turn up,''' Wallace said. ``Well, they're just beginning to curl a trifle, which means that, as I approach my 88th birthday, it's become apparent to me that my eyes and ears, among other appurtenances, aren't quite what they used to be.''
Wallace has said for years that he was cutting back on stories at ``60 Minutes,'' but his competitive instincts made it difficult for him to follow through.
Wallace said that ``CBS is not pushing me'' and that he'll keep an office at the CBS News headquarters.
``Mike Wallace has been the heart and soul of this broadcast since he and Don (Hewitt) started it almost four decades ago,'' said Jeff Fager, ``60 Minutes'' executive producer. ``Millions and millions of Americans have tuned in to `60 Minutes' on Sunday night over all those years to see him in action and to find out what questions he would be asking each week.''
A relentless reporter, Wallace was often the last person anyone accused of wrongdoing would want to see on his doorstep.
Wallace's television career dates back to the late 1940s, and he was even a game show host in the 1950s. ``Night Beat,'' a local news show in New York that was a series of one-on-one interviews, gave him his reputation as a tough interrogator.
But it was at ``60 Minutes'' where he achieved his greatest fame.
Wallace has done six stories for ``60 Minutes'' this season, including a profile of actor Morgan Freeman and a story on Iraq war veterans who had lost their limbs.