Broadcast journalist Mike Wallace’s interviews from the television program “The Mike Wallace Interview,” which ran for two seasons in 1957 and 1958, will be available online starting April 4, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin has announced.
Wallace, 89, rose to prominence in 1956 with the New York City television program “Night Beat,” which soon developed into the nationally televised prime time program “The Mike Wallace Interview.”
In the early 1960s, Wallace donated to the Ransom Center the show’s interviews on 16mm kinescope. The 30-minute interviews can now be viewed online. Most of the episodes have not been seen since they aired.
“It was a fascinating time and they were fascinating people, but I never thought 50 years ago that they would live beyond the hour that they existed back then,” said Wallace. “Today they are still relevant. The people may be different, but the issues they face are the same.”
The Ransom Center also holds an archive of Wallace’s papers related to the show, including his prepared questions, research material and correspondence.
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, including Justice William O. Douglas, Frank Lloyd Wright, Pearl Buck, Salvador Dali, Oscar Hammerstein and Henry Kissinger. The interviews dealt with the issues of that time, including civil rights and the cold war.
Starting many of the interviews with “What you are about to see is unrehearsed and uncensored,” Wallace quickly became recognized for his tough questions and the forceful style for which he is still known today. At the beginning of several of the interviews, he says, “Whether you agree or disagree with what you will hear, we feel that none will deny the right of these views to be broadcast.”
“Almost 50 years after their original broadcast the interviews are still compelling and serve as a time capsule from the mid-20th century,” said Steve Wilson, the Ransom Center’s associate curator of film. “Not only do the politicians, the great thinkers and the controversial figures Wallace interviewed present their views, but society’s attitudes, hopes and fears are evident as well.”
Through the online videos available on the Ransom Center’s Web site, one can watch Wallace aggressively question Eldon Edwards, Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, about his attitudes toward other races. He questions Margaret Sanger about her support for birth control and asks Kirk Douglas if he has any reluctance about working with former Nazi officers on his latest film. Eleanor Roosevelt is asked about her opinions of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.
The School of Information at The University of Texas at Austin, which assisted with the project, will also host the shows online.
Press images of the interviews are available as is a copy of Wallace’s biography.