CV: MIKE WALKER Gossip columnist, 'The National Enquirer'

I knew I wanted to be a journalist by the time I was 12 or 13 years old. I just knew I could write. I grew up in Boston, and was a very precocious child; by nine I was reading Shakespeare and Dante.

Then, my father, a military officer, retired to run a chicken farm out in the country, so I was around kids who were learning to trap animals and fish. And so, when I got into school, I was crazy bored; we were studying Ivanhoe, and I thought that was kids' stuff. Being a wilful kid, I ran away from home - I was ready to go out and work - and, by 16, I'd managed to get local papers to accept feature pieces.

What happened then was that I went to Japan, courtesy of the United States Air Force, and there, I impressed the editor of the Air Force newspaper. I'd just asked if I could help out, and suddenly I was a real journalist. I started submitting pieces to Japanese newspapers - I was fluent in Japanese by this point - and the editor of one of the Tokyo dailies became interested in me, giving me an evening job.

I was then approached by the biggest Tokyo daily to work for them, after I'd finished in the Air Force; they managed to pull some strings so I could stay in Japan. I also started doing some work for the wire services, such as the International News Service, and then I got a really good gig interviewing every personality who hit town for the NBC Monitor Show - Sean Connery, for instance, at the height of Bond-mania.

It was a really exciting place to be, but, after about 10 years in the Far East, I decided enough was enough. So I asked myself where the most wonderful place was to be in the mid-Sixties, and it was, of course, London.

My best friend was a Japanese movie actor and singer. One day he said he was touring Japan the next month, and asked me to go with him. He said he'd train me up as a singer, and concocted an act for me. So I went on tour with him, and started advising him on how he should do his show, and one day he asked if I'd like to manage him. First I said no, but we both wanted to go abroad, and so we used his band as the vehicle to get us to London.

There, we formed a band called Samurai - which, being a journalist, I instinctively knew how to publicise. So I veered out of journalism - I was making a lot more money in show business - but I kept my hand in by freelancing. What intervened then was a wife and two small children, and because I wanted them to have American roots, I decided that I had to give up the show business thing and go back to the States.

So in 1970 I went to New York, where I ran into Steve Dunleavy - Murdoch's man in the United States. And he said: "The biggest thing in the United States is going to be a paper called the National Enquirer." All I knew was the New York Enquirer, which ran gory stories such as "I Boiled My Baby and Ate It", but Steve said that the guy who owned it, Gene Pope, had changed the name to the National Enquirer, and that it was going to have an emphasis on show business. Steve recommended me to Pope, and I was brought in as chief writer, to give the paper a style.

Pope said we were going to cover show business the way the Washington Post covered politics - warts and all. And he would spend any amount of money to get a story. When Princess Grace died we chartered a jet to get to France to question the farmer on whose property she had crashed. And every reporter on that job had $30,000 in cash in his pocket, to bribe cops, customs - whatever they had to do.

Eventually I became a columnist, and the title became a household name. When Elvis died, we went off to Memphis and convinced a relative that because people were in such shock, they wanted a last look at him - and so we got a picture of him in his coffin, which we ran on the front page. It was outrageous, and every copy was sold within about two days. We also got the pictures of the presidential candidate Gary Hart with Donna Rice sitting on his lap that ended his political career, and, during the OJ Simpson trial, we were recognised by everybody (including the New York Times) as the "bible" of the case.

We will now make our forays into television: we had two TV specials last year, and, since we launched in Britain four years ago, I've been able to come here every year and spout the glories of the Enquirer, and get people to buy more copies - which they are doing.

Interview by Scott Hughes

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Lead Systems Developer / Software Developer

COMPETITIVE + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Lead Systems Developer / Sof...

Recruitment Genius: Social Media & Engagement Manager - French or German Speaker

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The world's leading financial services careers...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive - 6 Months Contract

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Digital Marketing Executive...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Senior Account Manager

40-45K DOE + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Manager / Senior Account Manag...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory