"He was an extraordinary writer and reporter, and a true gentleman," said Anderson Cooper

By Brittany King Janine Rubenstein
May 19, 2016 12:45 PM
Charles Eshelman/Getty

brightcove.createExperiences(); Legendary 60 Minutes host Morley Safer has died.

CBS released a statement confirming that the longtime news anchor had died Thursday in his Manhattan home at the age of 84.

The news of his death comes just one week after Safer announced that he was retiring after 46 seasons with the program. He released a statement at the time saying: “It’s been a wonderful run, but the time has come to say goodbye to all of my friends at CBS and the dozens of people who kept me on the air.”

On Sunday, 60 Minutes aired a special tribute to Safer.

Morley Safer
Charles Eshelman/Getty

“He felt the love and the appreciation,” 60 Minutes executive producer and longtime friend Jeff Fager tells PEOPLE. “He was so grateful and couldn’t believe what we’d done for him. I said, ‘Morely, we can’t do enough for you. Look at all you’ve done for us.’ ”

Fager says that Safer’s health had been deteriorating for several months, and he knew the end was coming. The veteran journalist wanted to live to see the special dedicated to him.

“We are so fortunate and happy that he was able to see it,” says Fager.

Tributes continue to pour in for Safer.

“He was an extraordinary writer and reporter, and a true gentleman,” said 60 Minutes contributor Anderson Cooper said to CNN. “From his work during the War in Vietnam to his completely unique and evocative pieces for 60 Minutes, he set the standard for what we all want to be as journalists. His kind shall not pass this way again.”

In the statement, CBS called Safer “a huge presence on 60 Minutes for 46 years.”

“Safer enjoyed the longest run anyone ever had on primetime network television,” the statement continues. “Though he cut back a decade ago, he still appeared regularly until recently, captivating audiences with his signature stories on art, science and culture. A dashing figure in his checked shirt, polka dot tie and pocket square, Morley Safer – even his name had panache – was in his true element playing pool with Jackie Gleason, delivering one of his elegant essays aboard the Orient Express or riffing on Anna Wintour, but he also asked the tough questions and did the big stories.”

CBS Chairman and CEO, Leslie Moonves said, “Morley was one of the most important journalists in any medium, ever. He broke ground in war reporting and made a name that will forever be synonymous with 60 Minutes. He was also a gentleman, a scholar, a great raconteur – all of those things and much more to generations of colleagues, his legion of friends, and his family, to whom all of us at CBS offer our sincerest condolences over the loss of one of CBS’ and journalism’s greatest treasures.”

And CBS News President David Rhodes said, “Morley Safer helped create the CBS News we know today. No correspondent had more extraordinary range, from war reporting to coverage of every aspect of modern culture. His writing alone defined original reporting. Everyone at CBS News will sorely miss Morley.”

Safer started with CBS News in 1964 when he eventually became a pillar of broadcast journalism as a member of CBS’s team for nearly five decades.

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