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Apr-08-2012 18:27printcomments

Mike Wallace Passes Away at 93

Wallace was known to Americans for six decades of media involvement.

Mike Wallace in 2007
Mike Wallace in 2007. Photo: Wikipedia

(SALEM) - Noted American newsman Myron Leon "Mike" Wallace died Saturday in New Canaan, Connecticut, at the age of 93. Also this week we said goodbye to our longtime Op-Ed Writer Henry Clay Ruark who was still working in media at 94.

During his career, Mike Wallace worked as a journalist, game show host and actor; his role in the media world was wide and varied.

He became known throughout his sixty-year career for interviews with some of the biggest names in news making history, particularly in his role with CBS' 60 Minutes which debuted in 1968. As part of their original crew, he retired from his role as a full-time correspondent with the program in 2006. He continued to make appearances through 2008.

Wallace was behind many famous searing interrogations of world leaders and officials. He once accused the PLO's Yassir Arafat in an interview of having Palestinians who "want to kill him". He interviewed Gen. William Westmoreland for the CBS special The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception in 1982 which was followed by a lawsuit from Westmoreland against Wallace and CBS for libel.

Wallace was also connected to a major scandal involving a tobacco industry whistleblower. As Wikipedia states:

    Wallace was played by actor Christopher Plummer in the 1999 feature film, The Insider. The screenplay was based on the Vanity Fair article, "The Man Who Knew Too Much" by Marie Brenner, which accused Wallace of capitulating to corporate pressure to kill a story about Jeffrey Wigand, a whistle-blower trying to expose Brown & Williamson's dangerous business practices. Wallace, for his part, disliked his on-screen portrayal and maintains he was in fact very eager to have Wigand's story aired in full.

Mike Wallace shocked Americans in 1981 when he was caught making offhand racist comments about Blacks and Hispanics during a break in a 60 Minutes program. He had to offer an apology for remarks people trusted he would have never made in the first place.

His famous comment from '81 about African-American and Hispanic people, "You bet your ass [the contracts are] hard to read if you're reading them over watermelon or tacos," drew protests a few years later when he was scheduled to make comments at a university event also attended by Nelson Mandela. Even though his initial reaction to protestors was that their complaint was "absolute foolishness", he subsequently again apologized for his earlier remark, and added that when he had been a student decades earlier on the same university campus, "though it had never really caused me any serious difficulty here ... I was keenly aware of being Jewish, and quick to detect slights, real or imagined...."

Wallace's career opened the door for his youngest son's career. Chris Wallace is the host of Fox News Sunday and known for his right-wing agenda.

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