The Early Years of Mike Wallace

When Mike Wallace began his television careeer, he wasn't the hard-hitting news reporter that he became famous for. INSIDE EDITION looks at the early days of the TV legend.

Mike Wallace wasn't always the tough-as-nails interviewer we remember on 60 Minutes.

INSIDE EDITION's Les Trent spoke to Wallace's friend Morley Safer about the early years, before he became a legend.  

Safer told Trent, "I used to say, 'Mike, you're the best in this business. Your interviews are remarkable. You're a star.' He wouldn't believe it. He couldn't believe it."

Wallace started out in radio at the University of Michigan. Then became announcer on radio for The Green Hornet.

The first time he appeared on camera was in a World War II training film, Sailor Take Care.

In the early days of TV in the 1950's, Mike did just about everything. Variety shows, game shows, dramas and commercials.

But Bob Simon said in 1956, Wallace found his true voice as host of the late-night interview show called Night Beat.

Simon told INSIDE EDITION, "He was on all night, interviewing people, and he created the interview. Until then, it had been all fluff."

Wallace's career turning point came in 1962 after his son, Peter was killed during a tragic mountain climbing accident in Greece. At the funeral, Mike stood next to his young Chris Wallace, now a Fox News anchor.  

Safer said, "He lost his son very tragically, and I think he was asking himself, 'Is this really what I want to do with my life?' I think Mike was determined to do something that he felt was important."

In a storied career spanning six decades, Wallace asked in-your-face questions to the most famous people in the world, from presidents, to legendary celebrities like Johnny Carson and Barbra Streisand.

Scott Pelley summed up Mike Wallace best, saying, "What you saw on television was Mike."