The Mike Wallace Interview

Chris Higgins

Most of us know Mike Wallace from his long career on 60 Minutes, the Sunday-night staple of American TV. But long before 60 Minutes, Wallace established himself on his eponymous The Mike Wallace Interview, a long-form interview show that started in 1957.

Wallace donated recordings of some early Interview programs to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, and now the interviews and transcripts are available online. Watching the interviews, you're transported back forty years to a time when TV shows started with over-the-top Philip Morris cigarette ads. Wallace himself introduces the program by saying:

WALLACE: Good evening. What you're about to witness is an unrehearsed, uncensored interview. My name is Mike Wallace. The cigarette is Philip Morris. ANNOUNCER: New Philip Morris, probably the best natural smoke you ever tasted, presents: THE MIKE WALLACE INTERVIEW.

Aside from the cigarette ads, the show is actually really interesting -- there are lots of interesting guests, and Wallace is a personable but tough interviewer.

Notable interviews include: Steve Allen, Frank Lloyd Wright, Margaret Sanger, Kirk Douglas (fresh from Paths of Glory!), Eleanor Roosevelt, Pearl Buck, Salvadore Dali, Aldous Huxley, and on and on. Go get your interview on!