Google+

Goodbye, Mr. Wallace

“What you’re about to witness is strictly personal. A direct, undiluted, unrehearsed, uncensored interview…”

Goodbye, Mr. Wallace

 

My father and I did a great many things together. He was a caretaker and we lived in what Connecticut called the caretaker’s ‘cottage’ (Although all my apartments and houses since then look like Anne Frank’s cupboard in comparison; size-wise, that is). My dad and I would paint together, clean up the lawns, pull weeds in the garden, and every weekend we would watch football together. (Go Niners!) He was one of those quiet souls that made him an incredible father but an even more incredible friend.

 

On Sunday evenings we would sit in the living room and that clock would begin ticking on the television set. I hated school but I loved information, and when 60 Minutes came on they would always regale me with the new stories, issues, trials, tribulations – and that incredible short piece of humor with Andy Rooney before all was said and done.

 

Mike Wallace was one of those ‘characters’ to me that was larger than life. He actually frightened me when I was little because he was more fearsome than my English teacher, who was pretty brutal in her own special way.

 

Mike Wallace was riveting. He had this way of coming at his guests, surprising them with words and questions that they never thought of answering. They would become flummoxed, cry, or get mad – but Mike always kept that stern face and never batted an eyelash no matter what the star or villain said who was sitting across from him. I’ve noticed that with his death, all the ‘tribute’ articles are speaking about his interview with the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 during the Iran hostage crisis. But it was far before 60 Minutes came along that I remembered something else that should be talked about. No, I wasn’t born when “The Mike Wallace Interview” was on the air. But with the internet – everything is saved for all time – and those were the interviews I came across that blew me away.

 

Wallace would come on the air and have to do a commercial for Philip Morris cigarettes, because they were the sponsor of the show and he had a contract with them. But then that voice would turn into the hardened journalist and he would introduce his guest. They were icons. To me, they always will be because most of them passed before I ever came into the world. If you’ve never seen them and you’re struggling, or have the desire to be a reporter or journalist one of these fine days, I suggest you go back and take a look. Even while hawking a cigarette, Mike Wallace knew exactly what he was doing and could draw the audience in, surprising his guest with only a sentence or two. He kept it simple. There was no silly music or ‘tag-lines’ like there are in today’s newscasts that seem to want their shows to look like rock-and-roll concerts, with their neon lights and ridiculous fashion choices. Wallace also had one thing in common with my father, and that one thing seems to be vanishing from the world of news in my generation – Mike Wallace told the truth, no matter how rotten or scary it was.

 

Gloria Swanson was the very first guest on “The Mike Wallace Interview,” which premiered on April 28, 1957. It was right after Sunset Boulevard hit the masses that he interviewed this actress. The headlines at the time announced that Gloria Swanson was having her comeback, and the same reporters who’d once called her hideous were now singing her praises because of that film.

 

She was a quiet woman (duh, she was a silent-film actress). Mike Wallace interrupted her a great deal, pushing the point that many were making that she was not an actress before Sunset. He wanted to know if she thought she could actually act, even mentioning that other actresses, like Bacall, had been able to keep going by: “making up for their absence or decline of youthful beauty with their outstanding acting ability, whereas you couldn’t.” Gloria kept her cool, saying that: “I was a silent film star – more known for my own personality and the things I did then for my acting.” She agreed that she’d never done anything to get her acclaim, and the Hollywood debate raged on.

 

Perhaps this is the first ‘ground’ that Mike Wallace laid, making a point at the onset that HE was in charge and that they, even though they might not want to answer his questions, were going to no matter what. He actually got Swanson to say that she didn’t have any real acting ability. Wallace quoted her friends, ex-actors, etc., just to get a rise out of her, but he didn’t. and as the interview came to an end, Mike Wallace closed with compliments before signing off.

 

He went on to interview Eldon Edwards, who was the Imperial Wizard of the Klan. The guy looked ridiculous, so it was amazing to me that Wallace didn’t burst into hysterical laughter. He did state a NY Times report about how people saw some of the Klan in the City – people of all races – who simply laughed, thinking they were nothing more than imbeciles. The man kept heralding the fact that the Klan was respected, but by the time the interview was over all he’d done was make himself into an idiot – spouting words that were becoming drivel, seeing as that the world was heading into the 60’s and a huge change would eventually occur in society.

 

I was riveted by Dr. Ralph Lapp, another before my time, who was a nuclear physicist that helped develop the atomic bomb. He gave up research after the bomb was created and had turned to writing and lecturing against further nuclear work. All I realized was that this was a very brutal and frightening time, and I was amazed that ALL people were not hiding in their cellars just waiting for the world to turn to dust.

 

Lili St. Cyr was one guest who made me cringe at first because she seemed scared – chain smoking in her chair. She was America’s leading strip teaser, but she didn’t actually believe that it was that bad to be vicarious. She even thought that some of the men who came to her performance were simply coming to give her tips, such as telling her if they didn’t like her costume, or the music she’d chosen to dance to that night. She thought a man’s attendance was not because they were lonely: “Some brought their wives along with them to the show.” And although she wasn’t proud of what she did, she was honest – no matter what Mike Wallace threw at her. She simply said: “I need to make money and I can’t do anything else.” When Mike asked his final question that, perhaps, was a barb: “What kind of world would this be if everyone was like you?” She simply smiled and said it would be all right, because basically, she’d never hurt anyone in her life, whereas others did. That got a smile. Mike gave her compliments at the end, as well. She was a strong, independent woman who had secrets; her eyes held a great deal of pain, but when all was said and done, she was simply nothing more than a dancer.

 

It was in 1957 that Elsa Maxwell, a very loud, boisterous, and funny syndicated gossip columnist and professional party hostess spoke to Mike. She was on fire, and gave her views about everyone from Elvis Presley to Nikita Khrushchev to Jane Mansfield. She spoke about alcohol and how society had become somewhat immoral along the way. She even stepped on people like Greta Garbo, then changed her mind on that one. She was hysterical! She, as far as she was concerned, was the self-appointed Queen of hostesses, and said the one party she would never throw would be one where Elvis, Khrushchev, and Mansfield were in the same room. She said they were the most horrible people in the world. She called everyone’s love – Elvis – an unattractive man with no talent whatsoever; Mansfield was a bore and done, career-wise; and Khrushchev was dangerous – simply because all drunks are dangerous and he slammed down way too much vodka to be taken seriously. She was the only guest I saw in those old tapes who stopped Wallace in his tracks. She interrupted him a great deal, because she was the real star in “tinsel town.” Her words: “Unless I’ve met somebody, they have NOT arrived.” She made Wallace laugh – almost an unknown sight in his career.

 

One more I have to tell you about was a man who was still very much alive when I was. Of course, with Mike Wallace, he was still a young actor who Hollywood had just dubbed ‘the heir apparent’ to people like Clark Gable. Tony Perkins was Norman Bates, to me, in this interview. He was quiet, he kept that hesitant smile on his face, he looked nervous and uncomfortable, but his eyes were dark and wide-open, just waiting for the next question to arrive. There was a sense of spine-tingling fear in that interview, because he had the face and the voice that made me believe a knife was duct-taped to the back of his chair and if Wallace went too far, he’d use it.

 

This interview was aired on March 22, 1958 – two years before the ‘Bates Motel’ would become an icon in horror films. Tony Perkins discussed with Wallace the unflattering news stories that were being put out about him. Newsweek was a big one – they actually placed him on their cover, but wrote in the article that he was rude and obnoxious as a person. Wallace asked him how he felt about being the new ‘Number One,’ and told Tony that he was most definitely the icon for this new ‘beat’ generation that was appearing. Tony talked about freedom and that he wasn’t all that happy about being Number One, seeing as that there was nowhere to go but down. He also was very private, speaking about the fact that even though he was making a ton of money at the time, he had no reason to move out of his $50.00 a month flat in Manhattan (WOW! $50?) Going back and forth from a doe in the headlights to a serial killer (in my mind), Tony was only one who seemed to fill the screen even larger than Wallace did.

 

There are many, many more of these ‘gems’ that are held in the vaults of http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/collections/film/holdings/wallace/ for all to see. I suggest you see them! Each and every guest was amazing, and you will be riveted by the fact that Mike Wallace was already grinding and gnashing his teeth, and doing his absolute best to get the truth out of his guest before the screen went dark.

 

Mike Wallace seemed to like villains, however, far more than the Hollywood types. He could charm them and then bury them on national T.V.. Unlike most of the news programs you watch nowadays Mike Wallace wanted the truth, and he wasn’t going to stop until he got it!

 

He was ninety-three when he passed away, and I known that he’d stated, Pat Nixon was an interview he would’ve loved to have. But I wonder who, exactly, is out there in this world right now that he wished he could’ve interviewed before his career had come to an end. Let’s face it…there’s not many left who are interesting.

 

When he retired from 60 Minutes I still watched the show, but it suffered a decline when the face and voice of the toughest reporter in the industry disappeared from the weekly introductions. He was larger than life to a kid sitting in her living room learning about all the atrocities that were going on far away from her small-town world.

 

When Mike Wallace was on that screen there was absolutely no way to leave the room. He, like my father, was larger than life.

 

Until Next Time, Everybody,

Amy

REQUEST INFORMATION

Entertainment

Top Ten DVD List for August 22, 2017

  This Week’s DVD Releases by Kam Williams Top Ten DVD List for August 22, 2017                       Nova: Poisoned Water [Flint, Michigan Expose'] https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B071HG59CK/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20 Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 [Marvel Comics Superheroes Sequel] https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B06ZXWR8C5/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20 Supergirl: Season 2 [Woman of Steel Battles a New Set of … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Lifestyle

Girls Trip! Head to South Louisiana for Food, Fishing, and Culture

  Girls Trip! Head to South Louisiana for Food, Fishing, and Culture By Craig Lamb Ah, the New Orleans French Quarter. The sound of jazz coming from Preservation Hall. The taste of fresh beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde. Art galleries and shopping. French, Creole and Cajun cultures. It all has the makings of a girl’s getaway vacation, with a catch, and quite literally. A short drive through the scenic marshland is Home Run … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

“X” Marks the Spot for Deer Hunting in Kansas: Welcome to Xtreme Hunts

  “X” Marks the Spot for Deer Hunting in Kansas: Welcome to Xtreme Hunts   If you are looking to dive into a quality deer hunting experience in the state of Kansas, Xtreme Hunts is the place to go. Trophy whitetail deer hunts is what this company is all about. Being established in 2011, the company first came to be in Kansas because of the massive amount of encouragement that Xtreme Hunts received from their clients in Illinois; they … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

College Football Arriving Soon!

  College Football Arriving Soon! by Amy Lignor   Ask any college football fan and they will tell you that it seems like an eternity waiting for the season to begin. But, have no fear, the kick-off to the college season is almost here, with Colorado State and Oregon State hitting the field on Saturday, August 26th at 2:30 p.m. ET. On the same day, fans of Oregon State and Colorado State will see an active match-up, and Portland … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

Going Back in Time on the Ultimate Steamboat Vacation

  Going Back in Time on the Ultimate Steamboat Vacation by Amy Lignor   Many people love taking a cruise. But it is the river cruise on that glorious steamboat that not only offers all the benefits a big ocean liner offers, but also creates a more personalized, intimate vacation experience. It is a unique recipe: being able to witness stunning landscapes, mixed with amazing history, while dining on acclaimed regional cuisine and … [Read More its Good for You...]

Real Estate

Real Estate: Refinancing Rates on the Rise in 2017

  Real Estate: Refinancing Rates on the Rise in 2017 by Amy Lignor   The term ‘meteoric rise’ usually applies to something fun. Think: A Hollywood actor who has been ‘discovered.’) Unfortunately, when it comes to this article, ‘meteoric rise’ is something that will not bring a smile to one’s face. To put it simply, if you wish to refinance your home, you need to do it ASAP. If choosing to wait too much longer, homeowners across the … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Business

The New Airline Fare to Avoid: Basic Economy

  The New Airline Fare to Avoid: Basic Economy by Amy Lignor   Whether on business or going on vacation, buying airline tickets in this day and age is getting more difficult. The most recent term in airfares is “Basic Economy.” Now, all people want to nab the cheapest flight they can get in order to save money, yet even travel agencies are now scrambling to explain to their clients that “Basic Economy” may save $30 to $50 from a … [Read More its Good for You...]

Green Living

Creating the Perfect Vegetable Garden

  Creating the Perfect Vegetable Garden by Amy Lignor   Many are still dealing with that wintery mix Mother Nature just loves to toss down from the sky this time of year. Yet, that gardener living inside the soul – the one just dreaming of the sunny skies and lazy rainy days that are must-haves in order to grow the best vegetables possible – is already jotting down the facts, tricks and tips they need to know in order to make that … [Read More its Good for You...]

Books

Book of Black Heroes

  Book of Black Heroes Political Leaders Past and Present by Gil L. Robertson, IV Foreword by Myrlie Evers-Williams Just Us Books Paperback, $12.95 80 pages ISBN: 978-1-933491-21-9 Book Review by Kam Williams “The first African-American political leaders began to serve following the Civil War...Known as Reconstruction, this period represented a window of opportunity for African-Americans... Many [Black] political leaders emerged … [Read More its Good for You...]