Myron's Story

What Makes Myron 'Mike' Wallace Tick? Morley Safer Tries To Find Out

When Mike Wallace was born 88 years ago in Brookline, Mass., his parents actually named him Myron. He thought Myron sounded a bit wimpy, and changed it to the more manly Mike.

Since correspondent Morley Safer has known him, shared a lot with him and fought with him longer than just about anybody else still around 60 Minutes, it falls to him to add a little armchair psychology. Asking the question: if the child is indeed father to the man, what makes Myron run?

"Do you feel that it's time to maybe pack it in and reflect or ..." Safer asked.

"Reflect about what?" Wallace asked.

"Whatever," Safer said.

"Give me a break. Reflect. What am I gonna reflect about?" Wallace replied.

The 60 Minutes team knew it would not be easy trying to get him to reflect on his life and times, his legacy and all that. Reflection has never been Mike Wallace's long suit.

He likes to work — and argue.

In one famous argument with 60 Minutes founder Don Hewitt, caught on camera, Wallace argued that Hewitt was "gutting" his story.

"Forget '60 Minutes,' you're not getting on this week," Hewitt fired back.

Though their dustups were by far the loudest, Wallace and Safer also had their moments.

"I mean we were colleagues and competitors at the same time," Wallace reflects. "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 and you're out of town doing the story," Safer said, laughing.

"What happened when we really didn't talk to each other for about a year?" Wallace asked Safer.

"What happened? What was the initiator of that?" Safer replied. "I honestly do not remember. It has been a very bumpy and satisfying road, though."

"That's exactly right," Wallace agreed.

Truth be told, Mike's story — Myron's story — is of the road not taken. If his parents had their way, young Myron probably would have become just what the world needed, one more lawyer.

Looking back, Wallace says he was a pretty good kid, an overachiever who worked pretty hard. "Played a hell of a fiddle," he said.

In college, he got interested in radio. And soon after, in 1941, he reached a kind of pinnacle: announcer on the radio drama "The Green Hornet."

And that was that — no lawyer for the Wallaces.

Myron — Mike — went on to do all kinds of early television shows, from variety shows to commercials, from talk to soap.

"It was fine, it was honest work. But I was not especially proud of it," Wallace said.

  • Daniel Schorn

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