Childhood & Early Life
Mike was born Myron Leon Wallace on May 9, 1918, in Brookline, Massachusetts, to a Russian Jewish immigrant couple.
Wallace graduated from 'Brookline High School' in 1935 and then received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the 'University of Michigan.’ At the university, he was associated with the 'Alpha Gamma Chapter' of the 'Zeta Beta Tau’ fraternity.
Wallace worked part-time as a 'Michigan Daily' reporter.
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On February 7, 1939, during his final term in university, Wallace made a guest appearance on the radio quiz show 'Information Please.' Upon graduation, he landed an on-air job at 'Interlochen Center for the Arts.'
'WOOD Radio' in Grand Rapids, Michigan, recruited Wallace as a newscaster and continuity writer where he worked till 1940. He then became an announcer for the 'WXYZ Radio' in Detroit, Michigan. Wallace subsequently worked as a freelancer for radio channels in Chicago, Illinois.
In 1943, Wallace was drafted in the United States Navy and served as a communications officer on the 'USS Anthedon' during the World War II.
After his discharge in 1946, Wallace resumed his radio job in Chicago. He was hired as an announcer for radio shows such as 'Curtain Time,' 'Sky King,' 'Ned Jordan: Secret Agent,' 'The Green Hornet,' 'The Spike Jones Show,' and 'Curtain Time.'
Wallace played the title character on the radio crime drama 'The Crime Files of Flamond' (1946 -1948). Toward the end of the 1940s, he joined the 'CBS' radio network as a staff announcer.
Wallace displayed his comic skills while rehearsing dialogues with musician and bandleader ''Spike Jones.'' He also lent his voice to 'Elgin-American' commercials on the comedy quiz series You Bet Your Life.'
Wallace played the New York City detective 'Lou Kagel' on the short-lived radio drama 'Crime on the Waterfront.'
In 1949, Wallace transitioned to television. Credited as ''Myron Wallace,'' he appeared in the short-lived 'ABC' police drama, 'Stand By for Crime.' In the following decade, he mostly hosted game shows, such as 'The Big Surprise,' 'Who's the Boss?,' and 'Who Pays?.'
Wallace was the announcer for the pilot episode of the panel game show 'Nothing but the Truth,' which was retitled as 'To Tell the Truth' where he also served as a panelist a few times. Around that time, he actively did commercials, which included 'Fluffo' brand shortening for 'Procter & Gamble.'
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Along with his second wife, Wallace co-hosted two shows, 'Mike and Buff Show' and 'All Around Town' (1951 and 1952).
Wallace also hosted the late-night celebrity chat shows, 'Night Beat' and 'The Mike Wallace Interview' for 'ABC' (1957–1958). He played himself in the 1957 drama 'A Face in the Crowd.'
In 1959, Wallace learned about the African-American political and religious movement 'Nation of Islam' through journalist and author Louis Lomax. They collaborated on the highly watched documentary about black nationalism, 'The Hate That Hate Produced' (1959) for 'WNTA-TV.'
In the early 1960s, Wallace did several commercials for 'Parliament' cigarettes, under the contract that pitched in the tobacco division head of 'Altria Group,' Philip Morris, to sponsor 'The Mike Wallace Interview.'
Wallace hosted the 'Westinghouse Broadcasting' late-night talk show 'PM East,' along with popular TV personality Joyce Davidson. In the early 1960s, he hosted the syndicated documentary series 'Biography.'
In 1962, Wallace resumed working as news presenter and subsequently hosted 'CBS Morning News' (1963 through 1966).
In 1967, Wallace hosted the documentary 'CBS Reports: The Homosexuals,' a decision he regretted later.
Wallace's stint as the lead reporter on the 'CBS' news show, '60 Minutes,' was marred by several controversies. He provoked the 'Nation of Islam' leader Louis Farrakhan, by making a judgemental comment on Nigeria’s corruption status.
Wallace interviewed the Vietnam War veteran General William Westmoreland for the controversial 'CBS' documentary 'The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception' (1982), after which the latter sued him for defamation. The legal feud ended due to an out of court settlement in February 1985.
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In 1981, Wallace apologized for making a racial comment about blacks and Hispanics. He was also accused of deceiving low-income Californians. Several years later, his presence at a university ceremony where Nelson Mandela was previously awarded doctorate, was highly opposed.
In 1989, the 'University of Pennsylvania' granted Wallace an honorary ''Doctor of Laws.''
In a 1991 interview with 'Rolling Stone' magazine, Wallace admitted harassing female colleagues at '60 Minutes,' which further degraded his reputation. That year, he received the 'Paul White Award' and membership to 'Radio Television Digital News Association.'
In 1999, Wallace was honored with the 'Gerald Loeb Award for Network and Large-Market Television' for his research works on the international pharmaceutical industry.
Wallace announced his retirement from '60 Minutes' on March 14, 2006, and accepted the position of a "Correspondent Emeritus" for 'CBS News.' In January 2008, he shot his final '60 Minutes' interview with former 'Major League Baseball' player Roger Clemens.
Wallace won 21 'Emmy Awards,' including a 'Lifetime Achievement Emmy' in September 2003; three 'Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards,' three 'George Foster Peabody Awards,' a 'Distinguished Achievement Award' from the 'University of Southern California School of Journalism,' a 'Robert E. Sherwood Award,' a 'Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award' in the international broadcast category, and a 'University of Illinois Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism.'
In June 2008, his son, Chris, declared that his father would not resume television due to his deteriorating health.
Family, Personal Life & Death
Wallace’s first wife, Norma Kaphan, bore him two sons - Chris, a journalist, and Peter, (died in 1962).
Wallace was married to actor Patrizia "Buff" Cobb from 1949 until their divorce in 1954.
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His third marriage (21 August 1955) to Lorraine Perigord also ended in a divorce in 1986.
His fourth wife was Mary Yates, who he married on June 28, 1986.
Wallace suffered from depression, which aggravated in 1984 during the legal feud with General Westmoreland. Wallace was diagnosed with clinical depression and was prescribed an antidepressant and psychotherapy.
Wallace revealed about his depression during an interview on 'Later.' In an interview with his 'CBS' colleague Morley Safer, Wallace talked about his suicidal thoughts in circa 1986.
Wallace was on a pacemaker for about 20 years before his death. He had triple bypass surgery in January 2008.
Wallace died of natural causes on April 7, 2012, at his home in New Canaan, Connecticut. On April 15, 2012, a full '60 Minutes' episode was dedicated to him.