Born in Boston, MA; married; children: two. Hobbies and other interests: Raising horses.
Journalist. International News Service, Japan, foreign correspondent; Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, Japan, reporter; Shipping and Trade News, Tokyo, columnist; NBC Radio, foreign correspondent for Monitor; contributing editor to Boston Traveler, London Evening News, Hong Kong Tiger Standard, and Bunte; National Enquirer, Boca Raton, FL, gossip columnist, 1971—. Host of syndicated radio show, Mike Walker's Gossip Page, Westwood One Network; host of syndicated television show National Enquirer, 1999. Military service: U.S. Air Force.
(With Faye D. Resnick) Nicole Brown Simpson: The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted, Dove Books (Beverly Hills, CA), 1994.
(With Norma Novelli) The Private Diary of Lyle Menendez: In His Own Words!, Dove Books (Beverly Hills, CA), 1995.
(With others) Madam Foreman: A Rush to Judgement?, Dove Books (Beverly Hills, CA), 1995.
(With Michael Knox) The Private Diary of an O. J. Juror: Behind the Scenes of the Trial of the Century, Dove Books (Beverly Hills, CA), 1995.
Malicious Intent: A Hollywood Fable (novel), Bancroft Press (Baltimore, MD), 1999.
Rather Dumb: A Top Tabloid Reporter Tells CBS How to Do News, Nelson Current (Nashville, TN), 2005.
Mike Walker is the gossip columnist for the National Enquirer, a hugely popular weekly tabloid that publishes celebrity and entertainment news and has established a reputation for reporting shocking and scandalous celebrity behavior. According to Andrea Sachs, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, "Walker is the voice of gossip: unvarnished, unapologetic, seductive. What others just play at, he consummates." Unapologetic certainly describes Walker, who strongly defends the National Enquirer's editorial philosophy and who believes that gossip serves an important function. "It's not wicked and it's not awful, it's simply a form of social interaction," he told Guardian interviewer Ciar Byrne. "It's what separates man from the animals—we have this inveterate curiosity about one another. It's the oil that makes society—everybody tells one person."
Walker was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and displayed a penchant for learning at a young age; under the tutelage of his uncle, he was reading works by Dante at age seven. Yet he dropped out of high school at sixteen and joined the U.S. Air Force, where he developed an interest in newspaper journalism. After leaving the Air Force, Walker became a foreign correspondent for the International News Service and worked as a reporter for Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan's most influential newspapers, published in Tokyo. He later wrote an entertainment column for the Shipping and Trade News, a financial paper based in Tokyo. While living in Asia, Walker also served as a contributing editor for the Boston Traveler and the London Evening News, among other papers, and he worked as a foreign correspondent for Monitor, a news program heard on NBC Radio.
Walker returned to the United States and joined the National Enquirer in 1971. His "Behind the Screens with Mike Walker" gossip column became the most popular feature in the tabloid, which by 2000 boasted a circulation of well over two million and was read by more than seventeen million people each week. In addition to his column, Walker also hosted a nationally syndicated talk radio show and made numerous television appearances. Beginning in 1996, Walker was featured each week on talk show host Howard Stern's radio show. He also lectures on journalism at such prestigious schools as the University of California at Berkeley.
Walker is the author of several books, including Nicole Brown Simpson: The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted and Malicious Intent: A Hollywood Fable. Nicole Brown Simpson, cowritten with the late Brown's friend Faye D. Resnick, examines the life of the slain woman, including her tumultuous relationship and marriage with former football star and actor O. J. Simpson, who was acquitted of his ex-wife's murder in a sensational 1996 trial. Nicole Brown Simpson "is chock-full of details about the doomed couple's lives," remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who called the work a "tabloidy tell-all." Walker later coauthored two other books dealing with the Simpson trial: Madam Foreman: A Rush to Judgement? and The Private Diary of an O. J. Juror: Behind the Scenes of the Trial of the Century.
In Malicious Intent, Walker's debut novel, Hollywood starlet Charmain Burns causes the accidental death of Steve Bellini, a tabloid reporter. While investigating Bellini's death, gossip columnist Cameron Tull discovers the truth about Burns's sordid past, which involves abuse and murder. "The sleaze factor is high, the plot convoluted, but Walker knows his material (and his audience) as well as anyone," observed a critic in Publishers Weekly. Vanessa Bush, reviewing Malicious Intent for Booklist, stated that Walker "provides a scathing portrait of greedy, malicious reporters, directors, and agents in this intense novel about Hollywood."
Despite competition from a host of celebrity magazines, the Enquirer remains newsworthy and profitable. Walker claims his success in the industry is due to his ability to develop reliable contacts, telling the Guardian contributor Byrne, "The name of this game is sources. I tell secrets, but I never tell who told me those secrets. As a result of that, I get people in very high places who tell me things." And despite his vast editorial experience, Walker has no plans to rejoin a mainstream newspaper. As he told Sachs, "I used to be a serious journalist. Then I saw the light."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 1999, Vanessa Bush, review of Malicious Intent: A Hollywood Fable, p. 74.
Chicago Sun-Times, October 19, 1994, Richard Roeper, review of Nicole Brown Simpson: The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted, p. 11.
Columbia Journalism Review, May-June, 1995, Andrea Sachs, "Mud and the Mainstream: When the Respectable Press Chases the National Enquirer, What's Going On?"
Guardian, June 2, 2003, Ciar Byrne, "The Tale-teller's Tale: As the National Enquirer Celebrates a Decade in Britain, Ciar Byrne Asks Its Veteran Columnist, Mike Walker, Why We're Still Hot for Gossip," p. 7.
Houston Chronicle, July 16, 1999, Ann Hodges, "Dream Maker, Enquirer Stand out in Crowd of Syndicated TV Offerings," p. 10.
New York Review of Books, Andrew Hacker, review of The Private Diary of an O. J. Juror: Behind the Scenes of the Trial of the Century, pp. 44-45.
Publishers Weekly, October 31, 1994, review of Nicole Brown Simpson, p. 53; November 7, 1994, review of Nicole Brown Simpson (audio review), p. 32; July 3, 1995, review of The Private Diary of Lyle Menendez: In His Own Words! (audio review), p. 27; May 31, 1999, John F. Baker, "King of Gossip," p. 23; August 30, 1999, review of Malicious Intent, p. 48.
Women's Review of Books, May, 1995, Ann Jones, review of Nicole Brown Simpson, p. 1.*