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Remembering Mike Wallace

Veteran ‘60 Minutes’ correspondent born to Russian-Jewish parents

by
Stephanie Butnick
April 09, 2012
Mike Wallace at the 50th Annual New York Emmy Awards Gala on April 1, 2007.(Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
Mike Wallace at the 50th Annual New York Emmy Awards Gala on April 1, 2007.(Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

Longtime 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace died Saturday at the age of 93. Wallace, well-known for his effective interview style, was born Myron Leon Wallace to Russian-Jewish parents in Brookline, Mass., who had shortened their name from Wallechinsky. At the University of Michigan, Wallace was a member of Zeta Beta Tau, a Jewish fraternity, and wrote for the student newspaper before going on to a career in journalism.

JTA reports:

During the course of his career, Wallace interviewed Yasir Arafat and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. During a 1989 interview with Arafat, Wallace allowed him to spout his anti-Israel views without questioning them. When he asked Arafat if he had renounced “military operations” inside Israel, Arafat responded “Any people who are facing occupation or oppression have the right to use all methods.” Wallace did not probe this with a follow-up question, CAMERA pointed out in a 2006 report called “Mike Wallace’s Middle East Problem.”

He interviewed Kirk Douglas, Margaret Sanger, Pearl Buck, and Lillian Roth on The Mike Wallace Interview, which ran from 1957-1960. It was on that show that he notably interviewed Abba Eban, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, in 1958.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.

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