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Remembering Mike Wallace for his early recognition of Barbra Streisand

Reactions to the death Saturday of Mike Wallace have understandably focused on his extraordinary contributions as a broadcast journalist, especially his incisive work on "60 Minutes," his brilliant interrogations of the mighty and the dangerous.

Forgive me (as he would say), but I always associate Mr. Wallace first with his prescient appreciation of Barbra Streisand at the start of her career. That provides plenty of reason to admire the guy. If you've never heard the clips I've posted below, I think you'll find them quite enjoyable.

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When I became a Streisand addict at a tender age, I was ... out on a limb in my immediate circle of family and friends. Most people I knew could not stand her "strident" voice, her "kooky" looks, etc. So that made me all the more adamant in my devotion to her, and I loved finding anyone who shared my taste (hey, I was young, what can I say?).

As I dug more into the past of my new idol -- she was already firmly established by the time I first heard her -- I felt vindicated whenever I learned about the people who had spotted Streisand's talent right away and gave her an early boost.

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One of those was Mr. Wallace, on one of his early gigs, a TV show called "P.M. East."

For the longest time this was something I could only read about, but, eventually, a few tantalizing 1961 audio clips of the show emerged. They're really quite endearing, with Mr. Wallace sounding genuinely fascinated by this unusual young woman, her singing, her sense of humor, her offbeat ways.

So, as my way of honoring the memory of a notable journalist, I've attached a couple of clips from those long ago days.

I especially love the one that includes Streisand's disarming performance of "Moon River." The second provides a nice sample of the banter from occasions when she was Mr. Wallace's guest on "P.M. East":

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