Notable Deaths


December 15, 2008


Creator of '60 Minutes' format

Robert Chandler, a former CBS executive who played a crucial role in creating the highly rated and critically acclaimed weekly newsmagazine 60 Minutes, died Thursday of heart failure at his home in Pittsfield, Mass.

Mr. Chandler was a producer and director of documentaries and election coverage in 1966 when his colleague Don Hewitt proposed a new format: a newsmagazine with several segments rather than the standard hourlong documentary.

"In the formative years, he was our biggest fan at CBS," said Mr. Hewitt, who was executive producer of 60 Minutes for 36 years. "Chandler pushed 60 Minutes to replace CBS Reports when Fred Friendly and Dick Salant were not enthusiastic about the idea of a weekly newsmagazine."

Mr. Friendly was president of CBS News from 1964 to 1966, and Mr. Salant led the division from 1966 to 1979. The first 60 Minutes was broadcast Sept. 24, 1968.

"Bob played a very important part in setting up the format," Mr. Hewitt said, "and now almost everybody in the world, certainly in Europe and Asia, has a weekly newsmagazine."

Among the documentaries that Mr. Chandler produced, co-produced or wrote in his 22 years at CBS were Under Surveillance (1971), a report on the government's surveillance of dissenters, and The People of South Vietnam: How They Feel About the War (1967).


Former Cyprus president

Tassos Papadopoulos, the hard-line former president of Cyprus who ushered the divided island into the European Union after rallying Greek Cypriots to reject a United Nations peace deal, died Friday of lung cancer. Mr. Papadopoulos served as president from March 2003 to March 2008. A longtime chain smoker, he was hospitalized last month with severe breathing problems.

His successor, President Dimitris Christofias, called him "one of the protagonists of our country's modern history." Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat expressed sorrow over Mr. Papadopoulos' death and conveyed his condolences to the late president's family, his official Web site said.

A British-trained lawyer, Mr. Papadopoulos was a veteran of Cyprus politics. His career spanned most of the island's turbulent history since it gained independence from British colonial rule in 1960.

He was a leader of the Greek Cypriot guerrilla group EOKA, which waged the anti-colonial campaign. He also served as the youngest Cabinet minister in the island's first post-independence government, at 26.

Mr. Papadopoulos was for a time the chief Greek Cypriot negotiator in settlement talks with the breakaway Turkish Cypriots after 1974, when Turkey invaded the island in response to a coup by supporters of uniting the island with Greece.

It was Mr. Papadopoulos who submitted a proposal in 1977 for a federated Cyprus tying together two distinct zones. The proposal became the basis for all subsequent settlement initiatives.

He was elected leader of the center-right Democratic Party in 2000 and reached the apex of his career three years later when he became the island's fifth president with the backing of its largest party, communist-rooted Akel.

Over his five-year tenure, he oversaw the island's entry into the European Union and its adoption of the euro.

Mr. Papadopoulos may be best remembered for an emotional televised appeal to Greek Cypriots to reject a reunification plan brokered by then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which he vilified as entrenching division rather than ending it.

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