No question.. Mike Wallace is one of the last of a dying breed. There’s not a Boomer who doesn’t have some memory of the past that doesn’t include a Mike Wallace moment. With his passing the memories conjure up all those other newspeople that were part of “the first TV generation”. Yeah, as a kid in the 50’s and 60’s I didn’t much take an interest in what those early talking heads were talking about.. that was all adult stuff. I was into cartoons and cowboys & indians… and other kid shows of the day. But given there were just 5 local TV stations at the time (three network, one local that played old movies and Cubs and Sox games, and one being an early PBS station.. and no one watched that yawning stuff), just by the constant exposure when flipping channels you got to see familiar faces doing the news. In the post-Edward R. Morrow years I was introduced to Mike Wallace (I had a 5th grade math teacher, Mrs. Golden, that looked just like him; I dunno who was worse off for that), Walter Cronkite… remember John Cameron Swayze? No relation apparently to Patrick, he had little journalism background but he had a great TV persona with his photographic memory and voice. You will remember him better being the spokesperson for Timex watches after he left NBC (“Takes a licking and keeps on ticking”); strapping a Timex on to just about anything that spun around.
I’m sure you all remember the Huntley-Brinkley Report.. that aired from 1956 to 1970.. and became the headliner during the Vietnam War years, along with Walter Cronkite… arguably the best and most respected newsman in TV history. Douglas Edwards, John Chancellor, and Dan Rather made up the familiar faces. Edward P. Morgan, Howard K. Smith, Frank Reynolds, Harry Reasoner; many of these folks became familiar during the space launches over the years (remember ABC science editor Jules Bergman showing all those graphics and models during the space shots?). I got pretty good at recognizing their voices on various news specials or voiceovers in commercials and old black & white documentaries. Walter Cronkite did a series called The Twentieth Century (loved the theme) and Mike Wallace did Biography decades before the cable network (“I’m Mike Wallace.. and this.. is Biography”). Being a history buff I was voracious for all of that stuff.
Into the 70’s and 80’s the older seasoned news anchors were beginning to retire. Mike did 60 Minutes, which gained him immortality (I recall the common joke for decades was, you know you’re not going to have a good day if you go to work and see Mike Wallace and a camera at your front door). His son, Chris, is currently an anchor on Fox News (sadly, in my opinion) but has his father’s voice and assertive reporting style, although not likely to achieve his father’s notoriety.
Well, in the end all these guys had an indirect influence in my life, having become the words of unquestionable authority and integrity back when that seemed to mean something more than today. Sorry to see them go. There’s not going to be anyone of the same caliber to replace them. Now Mike is likely with a camera crew at the entrance to the Pearly Gates…