Perry Wolff

Writer / Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-hour Archive interview, Perry Wolff (1921-2019) talks about his early life and experiences, including his service during World War II and the novel he wrote about it. He describes his early career, first on WBBM radio and later as a writer on Guiding Light. He chronicles his early days at CBS News where he worked on the 1952 political conventions and met President Dwight Eisenhower. Wolff recounts working on two news documentary series in the '50s; Adventure, and Air Power hosted by Walter Cronkite. He details producing the groundbreaking A Tour of the White House, led by Jacqueline Kennedy, which was the first time television cameras were allowed inside the White House. He discusses his time as a producer of CBS Reports, which aired the controversial "The Selling of the Pentagon" episode. He outlines being ousted from CBS News at the behest of William S. Paley and transitioning to PBS, where he produced documentaries, including The Vanishing Family. He concludes by giving his thoughts on the then-current state of television news and documentaries. Jenni Matz conducted the interview on February 27, 2015 in Westwood, CA.

"My advice to aspiring television news producers? Make sure you're not telling any lies, and that your sources are correct. Don't let vanity get in the way of your reporting. And try to find another career. How about fashion?"

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Perry Wolff on producing A Tour of the White House for CBS News featuring Jacqueline Kennedy, First Lady to President John F. Kennedy
Perry Wolff on executive producing "The Selling of the Pentagon" for CBS Reports
Perry Wolff on working with Walter Cronkite on Air Power
Perry Wolff on covering the 1952 political convention for CBS and meeting President Dwight D. Eisenhower 
Perry Wolff on dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist
Perry Wolff on how he'd like to be remembered 
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his interests growing up; on his experience in World War II and writing a novel about it; on going to work for WBBM radio
On going to write for Guiding Light; on going to work for CBS making documentaries; on his friendship with Lady Bird Johnson; on covering the 1952 political convention for CBS and meeting President Dwight D. Eisenhower
On producing the CBS documentary series Adventure;  on producing Air Power  for CBS; on working with Walter Cronkite on Air Power
On dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist; on being fired from CBS by William S. Paley; on producing A Tour of the White House for CBS News 

Chapter 2

On the then-current state of investigative journalism and television documentaries; on working with Eric Sevareid and his strained relationship with Walter Cronkite
On working with various luminaries during his career; on producing The Vanishing Family for PBS
On writing and producing The Moon Above, the Earth Below; on the then-current state of the news media and its biggest challenges; on his greatest achievement, his advice to aspiring television documentary filmmakers, and how he'd like to be remembered 
Shows

Adventure

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Perry Wolff on producing the CBS documentary series Adventure  with host Charles Collingwood
Perry Wolff on working with noted cultural anthropoligist Margaret Mead on the series Adventure
Perry Wolff on mishaps during the production of Adventure

Air Power

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Perry Wolff on producing Air Power for CBS
Perry Wolff on working with Walter Cronkite on Air Power

CBS Reports

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Perry Wolff on executive producing "The Selling of the Pentagon" for CBS Reports

CBS Reports: "The Selling of the Pentagon"

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Perry Wolff on executive producing "The Selling of the Pentagon" for CBS Reports

Guiding Light

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Perry Wolff on going to write for Guiding Light
Topics

Advice

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Perry Wolff on his greatest achievement and his advice to aspiring television documentary filmmakers 

Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Perry Wolff on covering the 1952 political convention for CBS and meeting President Dwight D. Eisenhower 

Historic Events and Social Change

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Perry Wolff on his experience in World War II and writing a novel about it

Hollywood Blacklist

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Perry Wolff on dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

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Perry Wolff on dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist

John F. Kennedy

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Perry Wolff on producing > A Tour of the White House  for CBS News featuring Jacqueline Kennedy, First Lady to President John F. Kennedy>

Lyndon B. Johnson

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Perry Wolff on going to work for CBS making documentaries and his friendship with Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson

Television Industry

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Perry Wolff on dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist
Perry Wolff on the then-current state of investigative journalism and television documentaries
Perry Wolff on the then-current state of the news media and its biggest challenges
Perry Wolff on the the role of the broadcaster in the then-current climate of television news
Perry Wolff on his greatest achievement and his advice to aspiring television documentary filmmakers 

Television and the Presidency

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Perry Wolff on going to work for CBS making documentaries and his friendship with Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson
Perry Wolff on covering the 1952 political convention for CBS and meeting President Dwight D. Eisenhower 
Perry Wolff on producing > A Tour of the White House  for CBS News featuring Jacqueline Kennedy, First Lady to President John F. Kennedy>

War

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Perry Wolff on his experience in World War II and writing a novel about it

World War II

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Perry Wolff on his experience in World War II and writing a novel about it
Professions

Journalists & News Producers

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Perry Wolff on Standards and Practices he applies to television documentaries
Perry Wolff on his greatest achievement and his advice to aspiring television documentary filmmakers 

News Producer

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Perry Wolff on Standards and Practices he applies to television documentaries
Perry Wolff on his greatest achievement and his advice to aspiring television documentary filmmakers 

Producers

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Perry Wolff on Standards and Practices he applies to television documentaries
Perry Wolff on his greatest achievement and his advice to aspiring television documentary filmmakers 
Genres

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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Perry Wolff on going to write for Guiding Light

News and Documentary

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Perry Wolff on his role as producer of the CBS documentary series Adventure 
Perry Wolff on producing A Tour of the White House  for CBS News featuring Jacqueline Kennedy, First Lady to President John F. Kennedy
Perry Wolff on producing Air Power  for CBS
Perry Wolff on producing The Vanishing Family  for PBS
Perry Wolff on writing and producing The Moon Above, the Earth Below
People

Charles Collingwood

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Perry Wolff on his role as producer of the CBS documentary series Adventure  with host Charles Collingwood

Walter Cronkite

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Perry Wolff on working with Walter Cronkite on Air Power
Perry Wolff on working with Eric Sevareid and his strained relationship with Walter Cronkite 

Fred Friendly

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Perry Wolff on working with Fred Friendly 

Don Hewitt

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Perry Wolff on 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt 

Lyndon B. Johnson

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Perry Wolff on going to work for CBS making documentaries and his friendship with Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson

Jacqueline Kennedy

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Perry Wolff on producing A Tour of the White House  for CBS News featuring Jacqueline Kennedy, First Lady to President John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy

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Perry Wolff on producing A Tour of the White House  for CBS News featuring Jacqueline Kennedy, First Lady to President John F. Kennedy

Sig Mickelson

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Perry Wolff on Sig Mickelson 

Edward R. Murrow

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Perry Wolff on working with Edward R. Murrow

William S. Paley

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Perry Wolff on being fired from CBS by William S. Paley 
Perry Wolff on working for William S. Paley 

Richard S. Salant

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Perry Wolff on working with Richard S. Salant 

Eric Sevareid

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Perry Wolff on working with Eric Sevareid and his strained relationship with Walter Cronkite 

Frank Stanton

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Perry Wolff on working for Frank Stanton

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