Archive for the ‘"60 Minutes"’ Category

Journalist Mike Wallace Dies at 93

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

The Archive is sad to report that journalist Mike Wallace passed away last night, on April 7, 2012 at the age of 93. Wallace suffered from heart problems in recent years and retired from his long-time role as a regular correspondent on 60 Minutes in 2006. He was producer Don Hewitt’s first hire at 60 Minutes in 1968 and contributed to the program for 40 years, conducting occasional interviews even beyond his retirement.

Here are some text and video selections from his 1998 Archive interview:

On Don Hewitt hiring him on 60 Minutes and developing the show’s format:

On selecting stories for 60 Minutes:

On what makes a great interview:

A great interview comes from a chemistry of confidentiality. If the interviewer can establish that chemistry of confidentiality with the interviewee, if he or she has done sufficient research, and I mean a lot of research which will make the interviewee respect the interviewer … If the interviewer listens and picks up things – if he’s done enough research, he always will pick up because he or she knows what the next question should be. You can get interviews with honey and sometimes with vinegar and there are those who do it both very, very well.

60 Minutes will dedicate a special program to Wallace next Sunday, April 15th.

Watch Mike Wallace’s full Archive interview here, and read his obituary in the New York Times.

Remembering Andy Rooney

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

CBS News has announced that legendary journalist Andy Rooney died today, November 5th, at the age of 92. He had recently suffered complications from a “minor surgery” done shortly after he stepped down from 60 Minutes last month.

The Archive of American Television interviewed Andy Rooney in 1999. When we asked him how he’d like to be remembered, he said: “I’d like to be remembered as a good writer, [but] I won’t be, I’ll be remembered as Andy Rooney, the guy who does those little things at the end of 60 Minutes.”

Rooney talks about 60 Minutes and the rest of his long and distinguished career, that began as a print correspondent during World War II in his four-hour Archive of American Television interview. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

On writing and producing the documentary Sinatra

On the documentary Black History: Lost Stolen or Strayed

On Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington

On his start on 60 Minutes

On his 60 Minutes essays “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney”

On his “Essay on War”

Watch his full interview at http://emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/andy-rooney

Full Interview description:
Andy Rooney spoke about his 50-year career as a writer and producer for television. Rooney detailed his roots as a journalist writing for The Stars and Stripes during World War II. He talked about his entrance into radio and television as a staff writer for Arthur Godfrey and later on television’s The Morning Show with Will Rogers, Jr. and The Seven Lively Arts. He described his shift to the non-fiction form working on such CBS series as The Twentieth Century and Calendar. It was on the later series that Rooney first worked with newsman Harry Reasoner. He spoke in detail about the many CBS documentary specials the two collaborated on (Rooney as writer, Reasoner as narrator) including: An Essay on Doors (1964), A Bird’s Eye View of America (1964), and The Strange Case of the English Language (1968). Rooney talked about several other documentaries in which he contributed as a producer, writer, or a combination of the two including: Sinatra (1965, re-shown on CBS in 1998) and Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed (1968, Emmy winner). He talked about his long association with 60 Minutes, which began in 1968 when he wrote and appeared in (in silhouette) the recurring segment “Digressions,” a tongue-in-check 30-second “debate” on current events. He talked about his temporary break with CBS when the network refused to air an anti-Vietnam War piece An Essay on War, and the subsequent airing of it on PBS’s The Great American Dream Machine. Rooney described several documentaries he made for ABC and CBS in the 1970s including: A Small Town in Iowa, Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington, and Mr. Rooney Goes to Dinner. Rooney spoke of his work writing and appearing in “A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney,” the literate and often cantankerous essays on everyday life that appear as an end-of-the program tag to 60 Minutes, a spot he occupied since 1978. The interview was conducted by Don Carleton on June 22, 1999.

Remembering TV News Legend Joseph Wershba

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Legendary news producer Joseph Wershba passed away on Saturday, May 14th at the age of 90. Wershba, who decided to become a journalist at a very early age, began his broadcast career in radio, and transitioned to television at CBS News, where he worked on See It Now (where he was part of the core team to expose McCarthyism), CBS Reports and 60 Minutes.

Here are a few excerpts from his 6-hour career-spanning Archive of American Television interview conducted by Jeff Kisseloff in 1997:

Joseph Wershba on the genesis of See it Now
It was what we had on the first broadcast.  Open with something that nobody had ever seen before, which was two oceans live in the same time frame; the Brooklyn Navy Yard where Eddie Scott was, and the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay, which was live. Murrow said, “Ed, will you give me the uh, the Brooklyn Navy Yard?”  And he said, “coming right up!  There it is.” Murrow said, “well, this is the first time we’ve ever seen two oceans live.”  You know, small potatoes today, but very big.  It was like the landing on the Moon.  The coaxial cable had just been opened for many of us to go by cable to the west coast.  Before that, it wouldn’t have been done.  And Murrow’s introductory line, “this is an old team on a new job.” Meaning, CBS, his colleagues and Fred Friendly using uh, and entirely new mode of communication, and we hoped to use it and not abuse it, which referred to his own feelings about what the news was about.

Joseph Wershba on preparing See It Now’s historic program on Senator Joseph McCarthy
We looked at the program, it was cut.  Ed [Murrow] went around the room, What do you think? The editors were all for it, scared.  The cameramen worried about their jobs and things like that.  My position was, it all depends on what you’re going to say at the end of this broadcast.  Because, if you just run what we have looked at, the people who think McCarthy is a great man, will think he is doing the Lord’s work.  And the people who are fearful of him and hate him will think he’s more fearful and more hateful than they ever knew.  What are you going to say?  And, instead of telling me to go mind my business, he said, “Well what I’ll say is that, if none of us ever read a book that was different, if none of us ever joined an organization that somebody thought should be outlawed, if none of us ever had friends who, who were suspect of something or other, we’d all be, all be just the kind of people that Joe McCarthy wants.  The whole country’d be that way.” But he said it even more, I don’t have it down word for word.  He said it powerfully, he’d been thinking about it all along.  And I said, “Well Mr. Murrow, it’s been a privilege to have known you.”….I felt that this was the greatest thing that I’d, in my personal life, had ever come across.  We’re standing at Armageddon, ready for war, and we could easily have been destroyed.  Just McCarthy coming back, ripping us apart.

Joseph Wershba on the legacy of CBS News president Fred Friendly
I don’t like what’s happened in recent years in an attempt to downgrade Fred’s contribution.  I will say to my last breath that without Fred we wouldn’t have had the impact that we had on See It Now.  That Fred helped give Murrow the means whereby Murrow could make the mark that he wanted to.

Joseph Wershba on his work as a producer on 60 Minutes
See It Now was the mother lode, it was the fount of all these magazine shows.  The first one to come along which I’m proud to say I also worked on. I spent twenty years with 60 Minutes, I was one of the founding producers.  That’s a title that is a showbiz title, but it meant a reporter who went out, got all the details, came back, conferred with the correspondent who was doing four other stories at the same time, wrote up the  outline, placed the questions, told them what answers he can expect, and if they got a different answer, how to approach the next question.  That’s what a producer does.

See his CBS News obituary here.

Happy 93rd Birthday to Mike Wallace!

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Happy birthday to Archive interviewee Mike Wallace, born May 9, 1918. The Archive interviewed the TV news legend in 1998. Here’s an excerpt where he discusses his transition from entertainment television to hard news (which culminated in his decades-long run on 60 Minutes).

See his full Archive of American Television interview here.

James Wall, Longtime CBS Stage Manager, Has Died

Friday, October 29th, 2010

James Wall served as a stage manager for CBS for nearly 50 years and appeared on camera as teacher “Mr. Baxter” on Captain Kangaroo.  It was Wall’s idea that Captain Kangaroo should feature an African-American regular, and after serving as the show’s stage manager for six years, he was given the on-screen role starting in 1968.  Wall was semi-retired for the last two decades, but frequently came back to CBS as a fill-in stage manager— a job he continued to do until 2009.

James Wall’s Archive interview was conducted on October 21, 1999.

Interview description:

James Wall was interviewed for four-and-a-half hours in New York, NY. Wall candidly discussed his experiences as an African-American actor and stage manager in early television. He worked on entertainment programs, sports and news programs including The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Mr. Wall also spoke of his work on Captain Kangaroo, first as stage manager, and later as “Mr. Baxter,” a teacher on the program. The interview was conducted by Michael Rosen.

Wall was given a tribute on the CBS Evening News, link.

Andy Rooney at 91

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Andy Rooney is profiled in today’s USA Today, on his 91st birthday. There doesn’t seem to be any retirement in sight for the nonagenarian. “I can’t stop writing,” he says. “I like to sit at the typewriter.”

The Archive of American Television interviewed Andy Rooney in 1999. When asked how he’d like to be remebered he says: “I’d like to be remembered as a good writer, [but] I won’t be, I’ll be remembered as Andy Rooney, the guy who does those little things at the end of 60 Minutes.”

Rooney talks about 60 Minutes and the rest of his long and distinguished career, that began as a print correspondent during World War II in his four-hour Archive of American Television interview.

Interview description:
Andy Rooney spoke about his 50-year career as a writer and producer for television. Rooney detailed his roots as a journalist writing for The Stars and Stripes during World War II. He talked about his entrance into radio and television as a staff writer for Arthur Godfrey and later on television’s The Morning Show with Will Rogers, Jr. and The Seven Lively Arts. He described his shift to the non-fiction form working on such CBS series as The Twentieth Century and Calendar. It was on the later series that Rooney first worked with newsman Harry Reasoner. He spoke in detail about the many CBS documentary specials the two collaborated on (Rooney as writer, Reasoner as narrator) including: An Essay on Doors (1964), A Bird’s Eye View of America (1964), and The Strange Case of the English Language (1968). Rooney talked about several other documentaries in which he contributed as a producer, writer, or a combination of the two including: Sinatra (1965, re-shown on CBS in 1998) and Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed (1968, Emmy winner). He talked about his long association with 60 Minutes, which began in 1968 when he wrote and appeared in (in silhouette) the recurring segment “Digressions,” a tongue-in-check 30-second “debate” on current events. He talked about his temporary break with CBS when the network refused to air an anti-Vietnam War piece An Essay on War, and the subsequent airing of it on PBS’s The Great American Dream Machine. Rooney described several documentaries he made for ABC and CBS in the 1970s including: A Small Town in Iowa, Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington, and Mr. Rooney Goes to Dinner. Rooney spoke of his work writing and appearing in “A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney,” the literate and often cantankerous essays on everyday life that appear as an end-of-the program tag to 60 Minutes, a spot he has occupied since 1978. The interview was conducted by Don Carleton on June 22, 1999.

Legendary News Producer Don Hewitt Has Died

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Don Hewitt, who created and executive produced 60 Minutes, and whose early credits include producing and directing the “Great Debates” in 1960 between Nixon and Kennedy, has died at the age of 86.

The Archive of American Television interviewed Hewitt on April 15, 1997. The two-and-a-half hour interview was conducted by Michael Rosen. In it, Hewitt spoke articulately about the beginnings of broadcast journalism; the days of Douglas Edwards with the News; the profound influence of Fred Friendly, Edward R. Murrow, and William Paley; and of course, the creation and success of 60 Minutes.

Link to Don Hewitt entire five-part Archive interview.

40 Years Times "60 Minutes"

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

The stopwatch still ticks for 60 Minutes, which first aired forty years ago today.

The newsmagazine has not only been a critical success, but also a popular one. According to The Complete Directory to Primetime Network and Cable TV Shows by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, 60 Minutes was the #1 rated show for the 1979-80 season as well as 1982-83 season, and a three-year run between 1991-1994 (besting Home Improvement, Roseanne, and Seinfeld in this period).

Created by legendary producer Don Hewitt, the original correspondents were Mike Wallace and Harry Reasoner. Focusing on the show’s “magazine” format, Variety opined on the show’s premiere that “it should easily build a larger following than either Look or Life across the nation.”

Many highlights from the series entire run (including the opening of the first show) are available for viewing on the CBS News website: 60 Minutes— 40 Years At the Top (1968-2008).

Also among the program’s notable contributors who have been interviewed by the Archive of American Television through the years, include: Wade Bingham, Ed Bradley, Andy Rooney, Morley Safer, Lesley Stahl, and Joseph Wershba.

Mike Wallace is 90 Today!

Friday, May 9th, 2008


The Archive of American Television wishes Mike Wallace a happy birthday as the veteran newsman turns 90. Wallace spent his early years as an announcer and actor in radio and television. In the early 1950s he often appeared as an actor in the dramatic anthologies of the day including Suspense and Studio One. When he began to do the nightly news for the Du Mont network and then his subsequent Night Beat interview program, he solidified his reputation as a probing journalist that he brought most famously to 60 Minutes.

The Archive interviewed Mike Wallace for three hours in 1998. Click here to access his complete Archive interview.

“60 Minutes” Correspondent Ed Bradley Has Died

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

Archive of American Television Interviewee Ed Bradley has died at age 65. Bradley was interviewed in two sessions on May 12, 2000 and May 8, 2001.

Click here to view the Archive of American Television’s entire four hour interview with Ed Bradley.

Bradley on his career choice (from tape 2):

I’ve written poetry since I was in elementary school but it didn’t go anywhere. I mean, I’m not a poet. Just something I’ve dabbled in. I thought I was going to Paris to write the great American novel but you know that didn’t happen either. I started the book and realized I didn’t have a clue about what I was doing. I remember writing a scene one day in our apartment and this woman was standing in the doorway and she said something and it just struck me. I said oh, this is great. And I went into my room and closed the door and I sat down at the typewriter, put that paper in and I just described that scene and what she said and it was really wonderful and then I said, ‘Now what?’ I mean I had no idea. There was no plot. There were no characters. It was just this one scene and I realized that what I was good at was a reporter describing a scene and what had taken place.

Interview description:

Ed Bradley was interviewed for nearly four hours (in two sessions) in New York, NY. Bradley discussed his early career in radio in the 1960s, covering such events as the Civil Rights Movement. He talked about his first association with CBS, as a stringer while in Paris in the early 1970s. He described his work as a correspondent in Cambodia and Vietnam in the early to mid-70s. He talked about his work as an anchor on the CBS Sunday News (1976-81) and as a producer for CBS Reports (1978-81). He then discussed the series for which he is most associated, the CBS news magazine program 60 Minutes, where he first started in 1981.