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5.1.18

The Look, 1986

On TV he was known for his sharp suits and even sharper questions. On the Vineyard, where he spent part of most every summer, legendary newsman Mike Wallace cut a friendly, more familiar figure: a trademark faded blue chambray shirt and khakis for a stroll down Main Street; an open-necked shirt and slacks on stage at a political symposium; a dark tan and crisp whites on the tennis courts in Vineyard Haven.

“Who would dare guess while watching Wallace on 60 Minutes that there is something more to him than a tough, hard-hitting, incorruptible reporter?” Wallace’s friend Art Buchwald lampooned him in a 1986 issue of Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. “There is a lot more. When Mike takes racket in hand and marches out on the court he is a Teddy Bear, a pussycat, a large bowl of Jello.

“Just to see him warming up at the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club courts will improve your game 100 fold. Self-effacing, extremely shy, Wallace is a role model to the young people who hope to rise to the summit of the tennis profession. Always immaculately attired in white ducks and white sweater, with an alligator on the pocket, and white patent leather shoes, Mike is considered one of the ten best-dressed-players-over-45 in the country.”

On the occasion in the photograph above, in the summer of 1986, Wallace sat down with William (Marks) Waterway, the founding editor of this magazine, for his MVTV talk show The Vineyard Voice. The world was awash in Miami Vice pastels and upturned collars, but here on the Vineyard ’80s fashions were apparently slow to arrive. Halfway into the decade, both Wallace and Waterway sported the tans and taupes, vests, and pointed collars of the previous decade. Wallace was a man of style and status, but also a man on a month-long vacation. He “was in his relaxed ‘Island’ attire,” Waterway said – “with no socks.” And no top buttons, either.

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