I reached Mike Wallace a week after he’d received the hour-long salute and good wishes from his “60 Minutes” confreres. He’d spent the previous day back at his office — working on story ideas — as usual. He didn’t want to divulge the subjects. “I don’t want to jinx them,” he said.
He had also been occupied by the large amount of mail (e-and otherwise) complimenting him and commenting on his unmatchable 35 years of revealing reporting. I asked if he’d heard any response from Barbra Streisand to whom he apologized on the May 21st show. No, he had not heard from her. “But that’s all right,” he said.
Wallace reminded us of another CBS giant, Edward R. Murrow with his own signoff, “Good night and good luck.” But he also reminded us of Murrow in many interview scenes where he clung to a cigarette. “Did you ever quit smoking?” I asked. “Yes,” he said with a smile in his voice, “– when they put a pacemaker in me.” How long ago? “Fifteen or twenty years ago — and I have never missed them,” he said proudly.
Wallace will take a break later this month he and wife Mary head to Martha’s Vineyard for three months — “Uninterrupted — I hope” he quickly added.