The Mike Wallace Interview

My friend Craig showed me this utterly fascinating archive of Mike Wallace Interview videos from the 1950s, which are hosted online by The School of Information at The University of Texas at Austin.

It's astonishing to watch television in which the host asks real questions and the guests answer in full sentences. Wallace never lets people off the hook and he smokes cigarettes like the world is ending tomorrow, piling on fulsome praise for his beloved Winstons before each interview begins.

And what a list of guests! He interviews Frank Lloyd Wright, Salvadore Dali, Leonard Ross (a 12-year-old California school boy who won a total of $164,000 on the game shows The Big Surprise and The Sixty-Four Thousand Dollar Challenge), Aldous Huxley, Gloria Swanson, Tony Perkins, Eldon Edwards (Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan), Philip Wylie, Jean Seberg, Earl Browder (former head of the Communist Party in the United States), Mary Margaret McBride (the "First Lady of Radio"), David Hawkins (the youngest of 20 prisoners to defect during the Korean War), Dr. Henry Kissinger, and many more.

Mike Wallace rose to prominence in 1956 with the New York City television interview program, Night-Beat, which soon developed into the nationally televised prime-time program, The Mike Wallace Interview. Well prepared with extensive research, Wallace asked probing questions of guests framed in tight close-ups. The result was a series of compelling and revealing interviews with some of the most interesting and important people of the day.