Mike WallaceTV Newscaster / TV Personality
Born: 9 May 1918
Died: 7 April 2012 (Natural causes)
Birthplace: Brookline, Massachusetts
Best known as:
The tough TV interviewer who was an original on 60 Minutes
Name at birth: Myron Leon Wallace
Mike Wallace was a radio and TV journalist and hard-nosed interviewer who spent 37 years as co-host of the CBS news program 60 Minutes. After his death, CBS News summed him up as a "pit-bull reporter whose probing, brazen style made his name synonymous with the tough interview." A 1939 graduate of the University of Michigan, Mike Wallace worked in radio in Michigan and Chicago, then served in the United States Navy during World War II. After the war he returned to Chicago and worked a variety of radio jobs until 1951, when he moved to New York City. By the late 1950s he was on TV and nationally known for his pugnacious style of interviews, thanks to programs like Night Beat (1956) and Mike Wallace Interviews (1957-58). Wallace joined CBS News in 1963 as a correspondent and was named in 1968 as one of the co-hosts for 60 Minutes, a TV news "magazine" that has been a Sunday night staple since the mid-1970s. Some critics derided Wallace's aggressive reporting techniques -- which included hidden cameras and "ambush" interviews -- but the dramatic stories he told brought big audiences to CBS and international celebrity to Mike Wallace. Over the years he interviewed dozens of newsmakers, from Malcolm X to Ronald Reagan. He was also in the news himself a few times, including when U.S. General William Westmoreland sued him for libel in 1984 (the case was settled in 1985), and when he was depicted as knuckling under to the tobacco industry in the 1999 Russell Crowe film The Insider. Mike Wallace also spoke publicly about his battle with depression (which he says was triggered by the 1984 lawsuit) and worked to educate the public on the issue. He retired from 60 Minutes in 2005, but in 2006, at the age of 88, he signed a new four-year contract with CBS. His last TV appearance was a 2008 interview with baseball star Roger Clemens, and he died in 2012.
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