If you recognized the Wallace family broadcasting name as being familiar during the third presidential debate, it was with good reason.
Chris Wallace, the moderator of the third presidential debate, is the son of famed broadcaster, Mike Wallace. The New York Times has called Mike Wallace one of “America’s best known broadcast journalists” famed for his “interrogations” of interview subjects.
Chris Wallace is the first Fox News anchor to moderate a presidential debate, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Mike Wallace died in 2012 at the age of 93. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chris Wallace issued a statement about his father two days later.
The Los Angeles Times said Chris Wallace said in a statement, “My dad was everything you saw on television: fascinating and funny, challenging and exasperating. He was the best reporter I have ever known. And while work often came first for him, over the last 20 years, he worked hard to make connections with his family. He became my best friend. And at the end, he was surrounded by children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. I already miss him terribly.”
However, father and son weren’t always so close.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chris Wallace, who was 64 when his father died, was a child of divorce. His parents divorced in 1948 when he was a baby, and Chris “did not forge a connection with his famous dad until he was a teenager, after his older brother died,” The Hollywood Reporter said. Chris’ older brother, Peter, died in a hiking accident in Greece in 1962. Peter had desired to be a journalist, so, when he died, Chris decided to follow suit in his memory.
Chris and Peter were the only children of Mike Wallace and his first wife, Norma Kaphan, whom he married in 1940, said The New York Times. She would be his first of four wives. Mike Wallace was married to wife number three for 28 years. He also had a stepdaughter, two stepsons, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren at the time he died, said The New York Times.
However, Chris Wallace – who has worked at NBC and ABC as well as Fox – followed in his famous father’s career path. Chris was born in Chicago and didn’t see his father much in his teenage years because they lived in different cities, according to The Christian Science Monitor.
Chris Wallace found himself back in the news by weighing in on the debate and the candidates’ appearance at the Al Smith charity dinner in New York after it:
Mike Wallace was famed for his aggressive pursuits of interview subjects and the truth as a correspondent for CBS’ 60 Minutes, where he interviewed “everyone from the Ayatollah Khomeini to Barbara Streisand, asking the former if he were crazy and making the latter cry,” said The Hollywood Reporter.
The Christian Science Monitor vividly described the physical differences and similarities between father and son: “Chris Wallace is a man of medium height like his father, with the same precisely combed, glossy black hair. But the voice and the eyes are lighter…In Chris those daunting Wallace eyes are offset by an upturned mouth that gives him a look of faint amusement different from Mike Wallace’s characteristic seriousness.”
Mike Wallace also spoke candidly about his struggles with depression and suicide, said ABC News.
Chris Wallace’s stepfather, Bill Leonard, was also integrally involved in the broadcast news business; he was the president of CBS News, and Chris Wallace has credited his stepfather with being instrumental in introducing him to broadcast journalism.