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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

So Long, Myron


Just so we don't go overboard. From the Musem of Broadcast Communications' online bio of Myron Leon:
Wallace's early career differed from those of his well-known peers at CBS News. Murrow, Cronkite, Sevareid, Rooney and others worked as war-time radio and print correspondents before moving to television. Wallace, however, studied broadcasting at the University of Michigan and began an acting and announcing career in 1939. Throughout the 1940s he performed in a variety of radio genres--quiz shows, talk shows, serials, commercials, and news readings. After service in the Navy, the baritone-voiced radio raconteur landed a string of early television jobs in Chicago. As early as 1949 "Myron" Wallace acted in the police drama Stand by for Crime and later appeared on the CBS anthology programs Suspense and Studio One. He emceed local and network TV quiz and panel shows while also keeping his hand in radio news for CBS throughout 1951-55. Wallace's move into interviewing at the network level came in the form of two husband-and-wife talk shows, All Around the Town and Mike and Buff, which CBS adapted from a successful Chicago radio program. With his wife Buff Cobb, Wallace visited various New York locations and conducted live interviews with celebrities and passers-by. In 1954, after a three-season run on CBS, Wallace had a brief stint as a Broadway actor, but immediately returned to broadcasting.
Mike Wallace didn't want to be a journalist. He wanted to be on television, and he did it by calling himself a journalist when game shows and bit acting parts were insufficiently satisfying. If he had been born in 1980, he'd be on the Real World Key West by now, doing bodyshots and mugging for the cameras. Or hosting American Idol. Whatever his faults or virtues, he is not an icon of American journalism. He is an icon of American television. The journalists are the producers who prepared Myron's broadcasts, did the pre-interviews, wrote the questions, and reported the stories that carried his name.