Remembering Mike Wallace 1918-2012
So when "60 Minutes" was born in 1968, Wallace brought with him his "Nightbeat" persona, and contributed 40 years' worth of nosiness, impertinence, and, of course, drama.
Mike loved to mix it up. With producers, editors, even his fellow correspondents.
"I mean, we were colleagues and competitors at the same time," Wallace recalled with Morley Safer. "And so, when I wanted to do a story, and you wanted to do a story, and it's the same story . . . "
"And I come into the office the next day," added Safer, "and you're out of town doing the story!"
But beneath the confident, even cocky exterior, Mike had his demons. Three times over the years, he was treated for severe depression, and revealed a few years back that he once tried to end it all with an
overdose of sleeping pills.
"Did you try to commit suicide at one point?" Safer asked.
"I've never said this before. Yeah. I tried," he replied.
There are those who think that, thanks to his wife Mary, Mike mellowed a bit in recent years. But as the specter of retirement bore down, Mike fought it with customary defiance.
When asked whether it was time for him to "pack it in" and reflect, he replied, "Reflect about what? Give me a break. Reflect. What am I going to reflect about?"
It was 65 years from Mike's first appearance on camera - a World War II film for the Navy - to his last television appearance, a "60 Minutes" interview with Roger Clemens, the baseball star trying to fight off accusations of steroid use.
It's strange, but for such a tough guy, Mike's all-time favorite interview was the one with another legend, pianist Vladimir Horowitz. The two of them, forces of nature both: Sly, manic, egos rampant. For Mike - a red, white and blue kind of guy - Horowitz played "The Stars and Stripes Forever."
It almost brought tears to the toughest guy on television.
"It's astonishing what you learn and feel and see along the way," Wallace said. "That's why a reporter's job, as you know, is such a joy.
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