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1950s / Mike Wallace Whats My Line Controversy - 1957
On the May 26, 1957 episode of the popular panel show What's My Line?, Sammy Davis, Jr. was a last-minute mystery guest substitution for Mike Wallace. More than 20 years later, in his 1978 book about WML, executive producer Gil Fates explained what happened that night: WML panel moderator John Daly and Mike Wallace had professional differences that stemmed from the fact that they were both newsmen for ABC. Daly was ABC's newscaster while Wallace had recently been hired to do The Mike Wallace Interview program. Wallace had vaulted to fame with a series of sensationalistic and sleazy interviews on local TV in New York City--and Daly wanted nothing to do with him. Through a leak at ABC, Daly found out five hours before WML's live broadcast that Wallace was scheduled to be that night's mystery guest. He called Fates and told him he refused to do a show with Wallace. Daly was so popular and integral to WML that Fates had to find a replacement mystery guest. He quickly booked Sammy Davis, Jr., who was appearing at the Latin Quarter two blocks away from the WML studio. Everything seemingly went smoothly that night and a crisis had been averted. However, the next morning, the front page of the New York Journal-American carried this headline: "DALY BARS WALLACE: SWITCH IN GUESTS AVERTS HASSLE ON WHAT'S MY LINE?" Fates stated that there was no byline attached to the article, but its style was unmistakably that of WML panelist and gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen. The article ended by saying, "TV insiders claim that Daly was violently opposed to ABC's hiring of Wallace in the first place." Fates found out afterward that Dorothy had sensed something was amiss and she had "pried the details out of [WML staffer] Bob Bach." Fates went on to say, "Aside from the mechanics needed to operate the program, Daly didn't speak to Kilgallen for almost six months."