George Wald, Nobel Laureate

In 1967, George Wald, along with Ragnar Granit and Haldan Keffer Hartline won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries concerning the primary physiological and chemical visual processes in the eye.”

Dr. Wald, 1967

Dr. Wald, 1967

In 1970, Studs invited Dr. Wald (of Harvard University) to speak on his show.  In the meantime, Dr. Wald had given a talk at an MIT anti-war teach-in: “A Generation in Search of a Future” (read it here).

Perhaps not surprising to Studs’ regular listeners, the two men do not discuss the primary physiological and chemical visual processes in the eye.  Instead, they talk about Dr. Wald’s speech, student unrest, destruction of the environment, and the possibility of nuclear war.  Dr. Wald tells Studs, “We’ve reached a time, the like of which has not appeared in human history in which the whole human enterprise is threatened, all over the world.  The future of humanity is at stake.”

From here, the conversation moves on to the difference between science and technology, and the ethical imperatives of our fast-paced technological world.  Dr. Wald admonishes us to “only do those things that seem right and good to you.”  The relationship between technology and humanity is one Studs returns to consistently; but maybe that’s not unexpected for a man who uses technology as a medium to collect and convey human stories.  In 1962, he spoke to French filmmaker Jacques Tati about much the same thing (although from a more humorous perspective).  Listen here.

Photo: Author unknown, public domain,

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An Interview with Jacques Tati

Studs Terkel was a great fan of film, as evidenced by his many discussions with filmmakers, actors, and critics; and during his career he traveled to and recorded interviews in a variety of locations around the world.  Here in Chicago, as we celebrate Cinema/Chicago’s 50th Anniversary of the Chicago International Film Festival, it seems fitting to feature an interview that combines these two great passions of Studs Terkel.

In 1962 Terkel visited Paris; while there, he stopped at Jacques Tati’s Spectra Films for a conversation.  They discuss Tati’s film Les Vacances de M. Hulot (Mr. Hulot’s Holiday), and also the nature of humor, the difference between popular and “art” films (is there one?), and humanity in the age of machines.

Terkel: Hulot was a composite of many of the – I was going to say frailties – but good frailties, the little flawed idiosyncrasies

Tati: Yes, yes

Terkel: that you find.

Tati: Yes, yes. But that’s why, what, you see, he tried to take, to go on in life with what is good and bad and difficulties, and it’s the same thing that in a picture. Maybe critic often say “that picture is not shot like this and like this,” I say in a professional way. But I think that those mistakes are, I like them, very much.

Terkel: Yes. ‘Cause the humanity is there, the fact that someone’s alive.

Tati: Yes, yes, yes.

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