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Don Hewitt, Mike Wallace

Jim Smeal /Getty Images

Simply put, there'd be no Brian Williams, Anderson Cooper or even Jon Stewart today without Don Hewitt.

The legendary TV producer, who made telejournalism profitable and 60 Minutes into the longest-running, most-watched news program in TV history, died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer, according to CBS. He was 86.

When it came to TV news, Hewitt was responsible for lots of firsts.

He supervised broadcasts by legendary newsmen such as Edward R. Murrow and the late Walter Cronkite, including overseeing the 1963 Nixon-Kennedy presidential debates, the first ever to be televised.

That same year Hewitt also hatched the first 30-minute newscast with the CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite.

Hewitt was the first to employ a teleprompter, cue cards and lower third graphics—all the bells and whistles today's TV viewers take for granted. But probably his most memorable legacy will be 60 Minutes.

He created the show in 1968, pioneering the news magazine mix of investigative reporting, profiles of headline-makers and razor-sharp commentary with an all-star ensemble that has included Mike Wallace, Morley Safer and Andy Rooney.

Hewitt lorded over the news magazine as executive producer for 35 years until his retirement in 2004.

He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Marilyn Berger, and four children.

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