Myron Leon "Mike" Wallace, 1918 - 2012

portrait of Mike Wallace
CBS News promotional image by Peter Freed

Born: 8 May 1918, Brookline, Massachusetts
Died: 7 April 2012, New Canaan, Connecticut

Wallace was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. He attended local public schools, graduating from Brookline High School in 1935 then received his B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1939. He worked on the campus radio station, then was a newscaster and writer at WOOD at Grand Rapids, then worked as an announcer at WXYZ Detroit, and then freelanced at Chicago. He joined the US Navy in 1943, serving as communications officer on a submarine tender in the Pacific. In 1946 he was discharged and worked in radio in Chicago, including routine announcing, covering wrestling, and voicing commercials. He created an interview program called Night Beat for DuMont's New York City station, critics referred to it as "Brow Beat", after two years the show moved to ABC, by which time he was using the name Mike Wallace, with some critics calling him "Mike Malice". At that time his primary income was as the spokesman for Parliament cigarettes but the death of his son Peter in 1962 forced him to reevaluate his work, he asked for, and got, strictly news assignments from then on. Richard Nixon offered him the post of press secretary during the 1968 campaign, which he turned down. Instead he was chosen for the new 60 Minutes program, the aggressive counterfoil to the avuncular Harry Reasoner, he stayed with the program for thirty-eight years. Wallace introduced Malcolm X to the world, his last broadcast was with retired baseball star Roger Clemons. In between he interviewed seven presidents, won 21 Emmy awards, five Peabody Awards, and five DuPont-Columbia Journalism awards. He documented the US Army's under-counting of the Viet Cong for propaganda purposes which led to a major libel suit by General William Westmoreland. The stress of that trial brought on serious depression and a suicide attempt in 1986, both of which he kept private for many years. He spent the last several years at the Waveny Care Center, his son reported that he had recently appeared to have lost all memory of his career, although he was still in fine form as recently as 2006.

Biography from Wikipedia and The Museum of Broadcast Communications

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