Morley Safer, the longest-serving correspondent on “60 Minutes,” will step down this week from the CBS newsmagazine, the company’s CBS News unit announced Wednesday, and will be celebrated this coming Sunday with an hour-long primetime special celebrating his career.

Safer joined the program in 1970, just two years after it launched. His tenure extends to the era of Don Hewitt, the show’s creator, and Mike Wallace, who made “60 Minutes” famous with his aggressive investigative efforts. Safer’s first season as a regular correspondent started with a story about the training of U.S. Sky Marshals. His last report – his 919th –  was a profile of Danish Architect Bjarke Ingels, and was broadcast in March. In all, Safer will have spent 46 seasons with the newsmagazine, and more years than that with CBS News overall.

“After more than 50 years of broadcasting on CBS News and ’60 Minutes,’ I have decided to retire. 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,” said Safer, in a prepared statement.   “But most of all I thank the millions of people who have been loyal to our broadcast.”

The hour-long special will air Sunday at 8 p.m. , and traces Safer’s life from his birth in Toronto to his rise in the ‘50s and ‘60s as a distinguished war reporter and then “60 Minutes” correspondent, where he has  interviewed everyone from Dolly Parton to Meryl Streep. He is also known for a1965 CBS News dispatch that changed war reporting, because it depicted U.S.  Marines torching the homes of Vietnamese villagers. He was behind a “60 Minutes” investigation that freed Lenell Geter, a black man wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison in Texas.

“Morley has had a brilliant career as a reporter and as one of the most significant figures in CBS News history, on our broadcast and in many of our lives,” said Jeff Fager, executive producer of “60 Minutes,” who once served Safer as a producer. “Morley’s curiosity, his sense of adventure and his superb writing, all made for exceptional work done by a remarkable man. “