Alumnus Mike Wallace (A.B. ’39) Passes Away at Age 93

The Communication Studies Department was saddened to learn the news of the passing of Department alumnus Mike Wallace (A.B. ’39). Wallace passed away on April 7, 2012 at the age of 93.

The esteemed broadcast journalist graduated from the University with a degree in Speech. Wallace spent 40 years on the CBS program “60 Minutes,” where he, as The New York Times put it, “went head to head with chiefs of state, celebrities and con artists.”

According to an article on the CBS website, “Wallace played a huge role in the “60 Minutes”‘ rise to the top of the ratings to become the number-one program of all time, with an unprecedented 23 seasons on the Nielsen annual top 10 list – five as the number-one program.”

While Wallace officially retired from “60 Minutes” in 2006, he continued to work on the program until 2008. His last interviews included an exclusive interview with the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for which he won is 21st Emmy, and a controversial interview with Baseball star Roger Clemens.

Wallace was also a generous supporter of the University. According to the Record Update, he was “a leading contributor to the Knight-Wallace Fellows, a U-M program for mid-career journalists from the United States and abroad.” An article in The Daily also describes Wallace’s commitment to the Knight-Wallace fellowship: “Though Wallace…donated significantly to the program…his support transcended monetary donations…Wallace visited the fellows several times a year to provide guidance during their time at the University.” His support for this program also benefited the Department and our students as many of the Howard R. Marsh Visiting Professors of Journalism were Knight-Wallace Fellows before entering our classrooms.

Department Lecturer Anthony Collings described Wallace’s unique interview style as follows: “Mike Wallace was the master of the confrontational interview. Often he would confront the powerful and ask them the tough questions that might make them squirm. He played the role of prosecutor, or defender of the public interest. Sometimes his “60 Minutes” reports were like little morality plays, with a hero or victim, and a villain…I have mixed feelings about this type of journalism, but the good side of it is that the audience can relate to the story and become deeply interested in it.”

To view some of what has been written about Mike Wallace over the past few days, please view the links below:

http://www.ur.umich.edu/update/archives/120408/wallace

http://www.michigandaily.com/news/knight-wallace-fellows-reflect-life-their-namesake

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/09/business/media/mike-wallace-cbs-pioneer-of-60-minutes-dead-at-93.html

http://rockcenter.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/08/11085357-remembering-mike-wallace

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57411053/cbs-news-iconic-newsman-mike-wallace-dead-at-93/?tag=contentMain;contentBody

 

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