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Mike Wallace is an interviewer and reporter who has been working in TV and radio since 1939. He joined the program 60 Minutes in 1968.
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Mike Wallace was born on May 9, 1918, in Brookline, Massachusetts. He worked as an announcer and a newscaster on radio, and served as a naval communications officer during World War II. In the 1950s he began to work on television and joined CBS as a reporter in 1963 and was co-editor of 60 Minutes from its first program in 1968. Wallace—known for his aggressive interview style—has won numerous Emmy Awards.
One of television's most admired journalists, Mike Wallace spent much of his career as a host and correspondent on the popular news magazine 60 Minutes. His relentless interviewing style often made his subjects nervous, whether they were world leaders or popular actresses. Sometimes called a pitbull, Wallace seemed to be driven by an intense commitment to deliver the truth to his audience. "I'm nosy and insistent," he once explained.
The son of Jewish immigrants from Russia, Wallace was born on May 9. 1918, in Brookline, Massachusetts, the same place he grew up. He went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he first discovered radio journalism at the campus station. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1939, Wallace worked at several radio stations in Michigan.
During World War II, Wallace spent several years in the U.S. Navy as a communications officer. He ended up working a number of television and media jobs before finding his true calling in the mid-1950s. Living in New York at the time, Wallace became the host of an interview show called Night Beat. The program went national in 1957 as The Mike Wallace Interview. This was America's first taste of Wallace as the tough interrogator. He later called these one-on-one encounters "a radical departure from the usual pablum of radio and television interviews."
In early 1960s, Wallace became a full-time correspondent for CBS News. He decided to pursue hard news as a career after the death of his oldest son, Peter, in 1962. In a later interview, Wallace explained that he wanted to "do something that would make Peter proud."
Wallace was one of producer Don Hewitt's first picks for his news magazine 60 Minutes. Debuting in 1968, 60 Minutes featured Wallace and Harry Reasoner as co-hosts. Wallace helped pioneer what is known as "ambush journalism." He was fond of the technique, which called for approaching a subject without warning. While he later dropped the practice, he maintained a reputation for having no mercy for his subjects.
Never afraid of asking the tough questions, Wallace interviewed numerous world leaders. He had the courage to question the sanity of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979, soon after the American hostage crisis began in Iran in 1979. He later challenged Russian leader Vladimir Putin about whether Russia was truly a democracy and questioned him about corruption.
Wallace also talked with other newsmakers, using the same, no-nonsense approach. For each interview, he was known to do extensive research and approached every subject with a skeptical eye.
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