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 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, California.

"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?"

Highlights
Perry Wolff on producing A Tour of the White House for CBS News featuring Jacqueline Kennedy, First Lady to President John F. Kennedy
11:46
Perry Wolff on executive producing "The Selling of the Pentagon" for CBS Reports
10:33
Perry Wolff on working with Walter Cronkite on Air Power
03:01
Perry Wolff on covering the 1952 political convention for CBS and meeting President Dwight D. Eisenhower 
06:21
Perry Wolff on dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist
04:20
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
11:31
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
13:19
On producing the CBS documentary series Adventure;  on producing Air Power  for CBS; on working with Walter Cronkite on Air Power
15:18
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 
18:53

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
10:01
On working with various luminaries during his career; on producing The Vanishing Family for PBS
19:47
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 
10:49
Shows

Adventure

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Perry Wolff on producing the CBS documentary series Adventure  with host Charles Collingwood
04:28
Perry Wolff on working with noted cultural anthropoligist Margaret Mead on the series Adventure
01:49
Perry Wolff on mishaps during the production of Adventure
02:12

Air Power

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Perry Wolff on producing Air Power for CBS
03:48
Perry Wolff on working with Walter Cronkite on Air Power
03:01

CBS Reports

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Perry Wolff on executive producing "The Selling of the Pentagon" for CBS Reports
10:33

CBS Reports: "The Selling of the Pentagon"

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Perry Wolff on executive producing "The Selling of the Pentagon" for CBS Reports
10:33

Guiding Light

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Perry Wolff on going to write for Guiding Light
01:38
Topics

Advice

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Perry Wolff on his greatest achievement and his advice to aspiring television documentary filmmakers 
02:24

Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Perry Wolff on covering the 1952 political convention for CBS and meeting President Dwight D. Eisenhower 
06:21

Historic Events and Social Change

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Perry Wolff on his experience in World War II and writing a novel about it
02:39

Hollywood Blacklist

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Perry Wolff on dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist
04:20

Industry Crossroads

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Perry Wolff on dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist
04:20

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>
11:46

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
05:20

Television Industry

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Perry Wolff on dealing with the Hollywood Blacklist
04:20
Perry Wolff on the then-current state of investigative journalism and television documentaries
01:39
Perry Wolff on the then-current state of the news media and its biggest challenges
01:47
Perry Wolff on the the role of the broadcaster in the then-current climate of television news
01:48
Perry Wolff on his greatest achievement and his advice to aspiring television documentary filmmakers 
02:24

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
05:20
Perry Wolff on covering the 1952 political convention for CBS and meeting President Dwight D. Eisenhower 
06:21
Perry Wolff on producing > A Tour of the White House  for CBS News featuring Jacqueline Kennedy, First Lady to President John F. Kennedy>
11:46

War

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Perry Wolff on his experience in World War II and writing a novel about it
02:39

World War II

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Perry Wolff on his experience in World War II and writing a novel about it
02:39
Professions

Journalists & News Producers

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Perry Wolff on Standards and Practices he applies to television documentaries
04:05
Perry Wolff on his greatest achievement and his advice to aspiring television documentary filmmakers 
02:24

News Producer

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Perry Wolff on Standards and Practices he applies to television documentaries
04:05
Perry Wolff on his greatest achievement and his advice to aspiring television documentary filmmakers 
02:24

Producers

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Perry Wolff on Standards and Practices he applies to television documentaries
04:05
Perry Wolff on his greatest achievement and his advice to aspiring television documentary filmmakers 
02:24
Genres

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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Perry Wolff on going to write for Guiding Light
01:38

News and Documentary

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Perry Wolff on his role as producer of the CBS documentary series Adventure 
08:29
Perry Wolff on producing A Tour of the White House  for CBS News featuring Jacqueline Kennedy, First Lady to President John F. Kennedy
11:46
Perry Wolff on producing Air Power  for CBS
06:49
Perry Wolff on producing The Vanishing Family  for PBS
04:13
Perry Wolff on writing and producing The Moon Above, the Earth Below
03:59
People

Charles Collingwood

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Perry Wolff on his role as producer of the CBS documentary series Adventure  with host Charles Collingwood
04:28

Walter Cronkite

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Perry Wolff on working with Walter Cronkite on Air Power
03:01
Perry Wolff on working with Eric Sevareid and his strained relationship with Walter Cronkite 
04:17

Fred Friendly

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Perry Wolff on working with Fred Friendly 
01:51

Don Hewitt

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Perry Wolff on 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt 
01:23

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
05:20

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
11:46

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
11:46

Sig Mickelson

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Perry Wolff on Sig Mickelson 
00:52

Edward R. Murrow

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Perry Wolff on working with Edward R. Murrow
04:22

William S. Paley

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Perry Wolff on being fired from CBS by William S. Paley 
01:29
Perry Wolff on working for William S. Paley 
03:40

Richard S. Salant

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Perry Wolff on working with Richard S. Salant 
01:04

Eric Sevareid

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Perry Wolff on working with Eric Sevareid and his strained relationship with Walter Cronkite 
04:17

Frank Stanton

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Perry Wolff on working for Frank Stanton
01:44

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