Marion Goldin, a journalist who became one of the first female producers for the CBS-TV newsmagazine program “60 Minutes,” worked closely with the show’s star correspondent Mike Wallace and shared some of the highest awards of her profession, died June 15 at her home in Palm Springs, California. She was 76.
The law firm representing her estate declined to disclose the cause of death.
CBS News executive Don Hewitt created “60 Minutes” in 1968 as what he called “Life magazine of the air,” with engaging profiles of Hollywood stars and other newsmakers, confrontational interviews with heads of state and titans of business, and hard-hitting exposes of wrongdoers. The program combined, to great success, the depth of documentary-style reporting with the editorial and visual pacing of an entertainment show.
Hewitt hired an array of on-air correspondents, including Wallace, Diane Sawyer, Ed Bradley and Morley Safer, who became household names.
The backstage producers such as Goldin remained just that, but they helped shape the reports and personas of the “star” journalists. And they also were essential to making the show, with its trademark ticking stopwatch, one of the highest-rated and most influential prime-time series ever.
Goldin, a Harvard graduate who had worked as a researcher for the CBS News stalwart Eric Sevareid and for “CBS Morning News,” joined “60 Minutes” in 1972. She remained with the show for the next decade and again from 1984 to 1988, frequently partnering with Wallace.
One of their first pieces together involved the unfolding Watergate political scandal that was just starting to consume the Nixon White House and would result in the president’s resignation in 1974. They were assigned to cover the 1972 Democratic and Republican conventions, both held in Miami Beach.
“Mike Wallace was a tiger for a good story,” she wrote on her blog in 2012 after Wallace died. “Finding obscure, Watergate related persons among the delegates, facing skepticism if not outright opposition from our bosses plus explicit memos from the Republican Party describing this convention as a coronation of President Nixon … we turned the 1972 Republican convention into a vehicle for bringing the Watergate saga to a wider American audience, many of whom were hearing about it for the first time.”
They worked on dozens of subsequent stories, from a chilling interview with the mafia-killer-turned-informant Jimmy “The Weasel” Fratianno to an investigation into what “60 Minutes” called “patient dumping,” where for-profit hospitals sent uninsured patients to public or charity hospitals.
Another story, “The 36-Hour Day” (1987), helped bring to light the practice of medical interns and residents regularly working exhausting shifts with minimal breaks. Some states began to mandate shorter hours because of the potential hazards posed to patients by drained young doctors. The council that accredits graduate medical schools instituted national reforms in 2003.
Goldin left CBS in 1982 to work as a senior producer for ABC News’ “20/20″ newsmagazine program, but she said Wallace lured her back after two years.
Behind the scenes, her relationship with Wallace was complicated. She described him on her blog as generous and charming at times, both personally and professionally. He went out of his way to credit producers for his success, she said.
But, she wrote, he was also a raging egomaniac with depressive tendencies — “the incarnation of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde — capable of such gratuitous cruelty & bullying that few were prepared to counter.”
She recalled that after her father died, she had to temporarily leave an assignment. On her return, Wallace greeted her by yelling, “How could you be so self-indulgent?” And she added that he was particularly brutal toward women, using the foulest of language to “denigrate the women in his midst.”
Nonetheless, said Gail Freedman, a “60 Minutes” producer and friend of Goldin’s, “he wouldn’t have had her there if he didn’t trust her implicitly. It was his face going out there.”
Marion Louise Freedman was born Sept. 5, 1940, in Brooklyn and grew up in Woodmere, on New York’s Long Island. She received a bachelor’s degree in government studies from Barnard College in 1962 and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University in 1963.
She settled in the Washington area after her marriage in 1967 to Norman Goldin, a tax lawyer. He died in 1992. Survivors include a brother.
In addition to her career at “60 Minutes,” Goldin worked as a producer at “Children’s Express Newsmagazine,” NBC News’s short-lived investigative series “Expose” and the PBS show “Frontline.” Her work earned Emmy and Peabody awards.
In addition to her home in the District, Goldin had a winter home in Palm Springs. She accumulated a trove of art, a portion of which she donated to the Phillips Collection in Washington and the Palm Springs Art Museum.