- Andrew Gore May 31, 2004 04:43 AM
Yes, this is for the L.A. board. But, I'm afraid to ask, because I think i know what the answer will be.
I moved to Glendale in 1984, and I soon became addicted to listening to Paul Wallach's show on KIEV, with cohost Steve Knight. Paul was a great radio personality, with a remarkable deep voice. He had a great talk show that covered many subjects, but he mostly focused on cooking and restaurants. Listening to Elmer Dills' show reminds me a lot of Paul's show, except that I liked Paul much better. He became quite popular locally by the early 90's, writing a popular yearly book like "1989 Guide to L.A. Restaurants" or something like that. I also bought a book of his, "Best Hole-in-the -Wall Restaurants" that was a fun book to have. He would occasionally host dinners, several of which I attended. One was at Taix on Sunset, one was at a Chinese place in the Bonaventure, and a memorable one was at Lawry's, weeks before it closed (not the steak restaurant). Listening to the show, you really got to know him, such as his lonely childhood growing up in the old Ambassador Hotel. He seemed to zort of quickly fade away in the early 1990's. Then KIEV was sold (and is now KRLA), and Paul seemed to disappear entirely. Steve Knight, Paul's sidekick and an important part of the show, was heavily involved at KIEV and pretty much was the voice of that rinky-dink but fun station. But when it was sold, he continued on in a much more limited fashion, and now it's been months since I can recall hearing his distinctive voice. Can anybody tell me what happened to Paul Wallach and Steve Knight? Since Paul was not a young man when he was popular, I pretty much assume he's passed on now. I'd like confirmation of that, and am asking if others remember the Paul Wallach Show as I do. I can say that I am a "foodie" and Chowhound pretty much because of him, and I suspect I'm not the only one.
I do remember this show! My mom listened to it religiously. It was a very fun and informative show--lots of humor. (Elmer Dills is a bore, comparatively.)
Coincidentally, I recently posted a similar inquiry on a usenet board about the fate or whereabouts of Paul Wallach. There were no responses with any answers. I also greatly enjoyed his show. After 16 years on KIEV, Paul Wallach's departure was instantaneous with no comment or explanation from the station.
Don Barrett's web site, LAradio.com is probably the most complete reference source for info on current and former personalities associated with radio in L.A. For Wallach it simply says "Wallach, Paul, KIEV, 1976-93. Unknown."
re: sam D.
Thx, you have the same results I have. The other guy says Paul's now on NPR, and I hope that's true, but I listen to a lot of NPR, and highly doubt he's there. One person who would know would be Steve Knight, but I don't want to just track him down and ask him, until a more appropriate time.
Not to get heavily into personalities,I never thought that Mr. Wallach was a chow heavyweight. Nice guy, I'm sure, but no Jonathan Gold, for example. Sort of a notch above George Christy but not the equal of Lois Dwan, or in contemporary terms, no S.I.V or Evan Kleiman. I suspect, he's off enjoying a surf n' turf in Palm Springs or the equivalent.
I, too, have wondered about Wallach. I may have been at some of the same functions you mention, and visited Paul at his Eagle Rock office once in the very early 90s. He was one of the most intelligent and relaxed restaurant show hosts and had the most enjoyable radio shows in memory. I agree, though, that he was more salesman than foodie.
As I recall, he disappeared in 1993 shortly after the sudden death of his son (don't remember the details, but it was unexpected and possibly violent). There were rumors of his suicide.
He has a guide with a copyright of 1995, but can't tell if it's a reprint of an earlier edition. He is listed as hosting an NPR radio show in October, 1996, but no one I know at NPR has any memory of this. The last reference I can find is a Guide Publication dated October, 1996, "The 100 Best Restaurants in Southern California..." but I strongly suspect this is old reviews. His books and reviews continue to be quoted as of May, 2004.
Steve Knight was still submitting articles to various food publications as of 2000 - he has a credit in the 2000 Gayot Guide to Los Angeles.
The mystery of Wallach has been the subject of other inquiries - a recent Usenet inquiry elicited no responses:
"... [former restaurant writer and
radio host, Paul Wallach]... wrote for Westways Magazine, authored a few books and hosted a daily afternoon radio show on the old KIEV (870 AM) for
18 years. Then one day in 1993 he abruptly disappeared without any hint of an explanation. His sidekick, Steve Knight, took over the radio show, the
magazine articles stopped and he wasn't again heard from. Nobody who might have known about his fate uttered a word. I searched the L.A. Times
archives, obituaries and other sources but found not a clue. Anyone happen to know what happened to Paul Wallach?"
I suspect this mysterious lack of information may lend support to the rumor of an end that the family does not want publicized. At the moment the public record is a dead end.
I have found that the 1996 NPR reference is the result of a typo - it actually refers to someone who appeared on NPR in 1996 and also appeared on the Paul Wallach show (date unspecified). There is thus no clear record of him after 1993.
There is no death certificate in the public record for Paul Wallach in 1993 anywhere in the U.S., thus making the suicide rumor less credible.
The Mormon geneaology index lists a death by the same name in Burbank in 2002, as per the above post, but it does seem a little unlikely that such a man would have gone entirely underground for 9 years. On the other hand, there are no better leads at this time, and if it can be shown that his birthday was, indeed, 5/23/1935 (the birthdate on the 2002 death certificate), then at least part of this mystery may be solved.
Maybe Steve Knight would know...maybe he is still at easycook.com.
> "I, too, have wondered about Wallach. I may have been at some of the same functions you mention, and >visited Paul at his Eagle Rock office once in the very early 90s. He was one of the most intelligent and >relaxed restaurant show hosts and had the most >enjoyable radio shows in memory. I agree, though, >that he was more salesman than foodie."
Thanks, that's great info and I think you're closer than anybody yet as to Where's Wallach? I agree that he was more of a salesman than food critic, but he never passed himself off as some sort of cuisine expert. I believe he was a true 'foodie', just a guy who liked to eat and find good places to do it. No wonder he came off as a 'salesman', AFAIK, he spent his entire life as a Public Relations guy. I know he worked for years as the PR guy for the Hollywood Wax Museum, of all places. I also believe he had some involvement in PR in Las Vegas in the 'old days'. If there's anything i regret about Paul's passing is that he never talked much about his old Vegas days. He probably had some great stories to tell about Vegas in the mob and 'Rat Pack' days. I recall now after reading your post about how he'd talk so highly about his son. I remember him saying things like, 'You know, he was the youngest person to ever..." and then I forget what it was, but some distinction or other. If his son died soon after, it must have been a profound shock to him. Luckily I have not experienced that myself, but I know, from other's tragdies, that the worst thing that can happen to someone who has children is to have their children die before them. I recall, near the end of the show's run, how it really went downhill. The show was like 3 or 4 hours long, but it was very common for him to not stick around for the whole show. 2 or 3 times a week, after one hour Steve would come on after the break and announce that Paul wasn't feeling well and left after the hour; then he'd fill the time with a replay of an earlier PW show. It got to be a routine thing for Steve, and he always had a tape cued and ready. It's as if Paul got... not lazy, but the show just didn't seem important any more. The day came when he came in to the station to tell them that that was it, he just couldn't go on any more, and Steve can have the show if he wants. I don't know what happened to Paul in the end. but i somehow don't believe he was a suicide. More likely he just became totally withdrawn, ending his days in a dark apartment with the blinds drawn against the world, possibly a drink close at hand. After all, he was not a young man; I believe he would have been in his late 70's about the time he disappeared.