New Story on How Tina Turner Neutered Mike Wallace During 1996 Interview Is the Stuff of Legends
Calling the late, great Tina Turner a legend seems like the understatement of the century, but that’s the first word that came to mind to me after reading the story a former CBS employee told about Turner on Twitter Thursday, a day after the iconic woman who many have dubbed the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” passed away.
Turner was 83.
According to former CBS camera crew booker Leslie Molson, Mike Wallace, who was a longtime correspondent and co-editor for the CBS News “60 Minutes” program, traveled in 1996 to Nice, France to interview Turner, who at the time was living in her “getaway villa” in the French Riviera with her boyfriend, Erwin Bach, who she later married.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Molson talked about how one of her assignments had been “to watch old raw (unedited) interview footage,” some of which has never been seen. In it, she recalled how Turner had cut Wallace down to size when he tried to keep the focus of their exchange on how “sexy” she was rather than the totality of her work and life.
Here’s what Molson wrote about what she saw in the video clip:
Wallace interviewed her at her estate in Nice, and it starts in the usual way with b-roll of them walking the grounds. Then they’re sitting across from each other in her sitting room, and right out of the gate— immediately—he’s leering, telling her how *sexy* she is.
By this time I’d heard the stories about Wallace’s sex-pestery at “60 Minutes” (e.g., snapping women’s bras in the hallways). My interactions were only intimidating. I was in charge of booking camera crews and Don Hewitt himself told me to ignore his direct requests and so I did.
Anyway, as they talk Wallace has a confident smirk on his face and goes on about her performances, how *sexual* they are, why are they so sexual, how sexual is she, and so on….
Turner looks at the camera, mimes “cut” and the footage ends abruptly.
When filming resumes, Mike is PROFUSELY apologizing to Tina with a sheepish, serious look on his face, and promising to stick to questions about her career. It’s obvious that she gave him what for when the camera stopped rolling and it was glorious! Few people had done that.
Though that footage is unavailable, a short clip of them interacting early on as a photographer snaps photos of her makes it clear that Turner means business. She twice tells Wallace – who had just been staring at her and laughing with the other guys in the room, saying “I don’t believe it, she looks 19” – that “you must be good to me.” At one point she had her hands on either of his shoulders, and both times she told him, you could tell she meant what she said:
According to other parts of the interview shared on social media, it looked like things got back on track with Turner in full control. In the below segment, she informs Wallace that her onstage persona was just that – a persona, and that it was interesting to her that in her view, actresses got “more respect” than singers like her did, even though she said actresses do “worse” things than she ever did on stage and yet “they’re treated with respect.” A dig at how Wallace initially treated her? Probably:
In 1996, Tina Turner spoke with Mike Wallace of @60minutes at her home in Nice, France.
In that candid interview, Turner said her trademark sexiness was not really her: “That’s my work.” pic.twitter.com/1M9O6zTs19
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) May 25, 2023
She also talked with Wallace about how she was even more popular in Europe, where she remained until her death:
Tina Turner was an even bigger star in Europe than she was in America. “No one in America knows that. I mean, people are always shocked when I explain,” Tina Turner told Mike Wallace in 1996. pic.twitter.com/w4W7uSAe4M
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) May 24, 2023
This exchange from the interview is what has gone most viral, with Wallace asking her if she deserved the life of luxury she lived in, and Turner point-blank telling him “I deserve more.”
Tina Turner, showing off her estate in southern France to Mike Wallace.
MIKE WALLACE: You feel like you deserve all this?
TINA TURNER: I deserve more. #RIP pic.twitter.com/0MY2GC3aWo
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) May 24, 2023
She sure did, and she got it. And so much more.
RIP, Queen. You really were simply the best.
Flashback: Megyn Kelly Posts ‘Helpful’ Tips for Don Lemon as ‘Formal Training’ Over Sexist Remarks Begins