CBS News announced this morning that veteran news caster Mike Wallace has passed away. Wallace was on television for 65 years, and has done some of the most famous interviews in the history of television.
In a tribute written by Morley Safer to his colleague, Wallace’s famous interviews included:
He lectured Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, on corruption. He lectured Yassir Arafat on violence.
He asked the Ayatollah Khoumeini if he were crazy.
He traveled with Martin Luther King (whom Wallace called his hero). He grappled with Louis Farrakhan.
And he interviewed Malcolm X shortly before his assassination.
He was no stranger to the White House, interviewing his friends the Reagans . . . John F. Kennedy . . . Lyndon Johnson . . . Jimmy Carter. Even Eleanor Roosevelt.
Plus all those remarkable characters: Leonard Bernstein, Johnny Carson, Luciano Pavarotti, Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Salvador Dali, Barbra Streisand. His take-no-prisoners style became so famous he even spoofed it with comedian Jack Benny.
Wallace seems to have been a complicated guy, plagued by depression that caused him to attempt suicide. But he pulled through it and remained working until the end of his life, having no interest in retirement.
And, as Safer points out in his tribute, “It’s hard to believe, but when Wallace was born in 1918 there wasn’t even a radio in most American homes, much less a TV.”
AP Photo/Evan Agostini