News Release — April 1, 2002
A Return to TV's Golden Age with Mike Wallace
The Ransom Center and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum harken back to the early days of television journalism with a retrospective on "The Mike Wallace Interview" series broadcast on ABC in the late 1950s.
"The Mike Wallace Interview" had its original incarnation as the hour-long "Night Beat" on the Dumont network's New York affiliate beginning in 1956. Starkly lit and utilizing only a black backdrop and cigarette smoke for atmosphere, guests were framed in tight close-up to reveal perspiration elicited by Wallace's pointed questions. The show moved to ABC in 1957 as a half-hour prime time program called "The Mike Wallace Interviews." Promoted as "Mike Malice" and "the Terrible Torquemada of the TV Inquisition," Wallace talked to prominent personalities of the day about controversial issues. After being threatened with several libel suits, ABC executives grew wary of Wallace's brinkmanship. The show lasted only through 1958, turning more cerebral in its final weeks when the Ford Foundation became its sponsor.
Each Saturday in April beginning at 3:00 p.m. two interviews from "The Mike Wallace Interview" series will be shown in the First Lady's Theater on the second floor of the LBJ Library and Museum. This series is part of the spring series of programs associated with the blockbuster exhibition From Gutenberg to Gone With The Wind: Treasures from the Ransom Center on display at the LBJ Library and Museum through April 30, 2002. The events are free and open to the public.