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The softer side of hard-hitting Wallace

Pit-bull 60 Minutes reporter, Mike Wallace, privately turned his famous tough talk into talk therapy for a friend in need

The public knew him as a tough interviewer, bent on confronting politicians and celebrities in 60 Minutes interviews. But Mike Wallace privately turned his tough talk into talk therapy for friends in need, according to his friend Charles Eisendrath.

In a tribute published in The Atlantic, Charles Eisendrath, director of the Knight-Wallace Fellowship for Journalists at the University of Michigan, describes how Wallace helped his wife, Julia, recover from her injuries after a horrific plane crash in December 2000.

Eisendrath writes:

"Julia grew steadily worse, increasingly crippled by 17 fractures and mounting pain of a special kind of therapy began by telephone...

'Is that you, Julia?' The voice was the famous purr Mike used in the non-inquisitorial interviews with amazing artists and fabulous women...

Then, with his perfect timing, "Julia, what are you wearing?"

It became an unprescribed long-term care plan.

Wallace became legend for his interviewer's instinct, Eisendrath writes, but he "had insights of equal measure in the unrelated field of counseling."

It's yet another example of the memorable we've been collecting on 60 Minutes Overtime since the passing of our great friend and colleague.

Read the rest of Eisendrath's tribute to Mike Wallace in The Atlantic here.