Wink Martindale

For the Baltimore Ravens assistant coach also nicknamed "Wink", see Don Martindale.
Wink Martindale

Martindale in March 2010
Born Winston Conrad Martindale
(1933-12-04) December 4, 1933
Jackson, Tennessee, U.S.
Occupation Disc jockey, radio personality, game show host, television producer
Years active 1958–present
Spouse(s) Madelyn Leech (m. 1954; div. 1971)
Sandy Ferra (m. 1975)
Children 4

Winston Conrad "Wink" Martindale (born December 4, 1933)[1][2] is an American disc jockey, radio personality, game show host, and television producer. In his six-decade career, he is best known for hosting Tic Tac Dough from 1978 to 1985, Gambit from 1972 to 1976 (and again from 1980 to 1981), and Debt from 1996 to 1998.



Martindale was born in Jackson, Tennessee, and started his career as a disc jockey at age 17 at WPLI in Jackson, earning $25 a week.[3]

After moving to WTJS, he was hired away for double the salary by Jackson's only other station, WDXI. He next hosted mornings at WHBQ in Memphis while a college student at Memphis State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1957. While there, Martindale became a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

Martindale's rendition of the spoken-word song "Deck of Cards" went to no. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and sold over a million copies in 1959.[4] It also peaked at no. 5 in the UK Singles Chart in April 1963, one of four visits to that chart.[5] It was followed by "Black Land Farmer". In 1959, he became morning man at KHJ in Los Angeles, California, moving a year later to the morning show at KRLA and finally to KFWB in 1962. He also had lengthy stays at KGIL, KKGO/KJQI and Gene Autry's KMPC. In 1967, Martindale narrated a futuristic documentary which predicted Internet commerce.


Martindale in 1964, as the host of What's This Song?

Martindale's first break into television was at WHBQ-TV in Memphis, as the host of Mars Patrol, a science-fiction themed children's television program. At his tenure with WHBQ, Martindale became the host of the TV show Teenage Dance Party, where his friend Elvis Presley made an appearance. (Following Presley's death in 1977, Martindale aired a nationwide tribute radio special in his honor.)

Martindale's first game-show hosting job was on the show What's This Song?, which he hosted for NBC (credited as "Win Martindale") from 1964 to 1965. From 1970 to 1971, he hosted a similar song-recognition game show, Words and Music, again on NBC. His first major success came in 1972, when he took the emcee position on a new CBS game show, Gambit. He spent four years hosting the original Gambit and later hosted a Las Vegas-based revival for 13 months in 1980-81.

The emcee role for which Martindale is most widely known is on Tic-Tac-Dough. He was tapped by Barry & Enright Productions to host the revived series in 1978 and stayed there until 1985, presiding over one of the more popular game shows of the day. During this time, Martindale decided to branch out and form his own production company, Wink Martindale Enterprises, so he could develop and produce his own game shows. His first venture was Headline Chasers, a co-production with Merv Griffin that premiered in 1985; Martindale had left Tic-Tac-Dough to host his creation, but the show did not meet with any success and was cancelled after its only season in 1986. Martindale's next venture was more successful, as he created and, along with Barry & Enright, co-produced the Canadian game show Bumper Stumpers for Global Television and USA Network. This series aired on both American and Canadian television from 1987 until 1990.

After hosting two short-lived Merrill Heatter-produced game shows (a revival of High Rollers and the Canadian The Last Word), Martindale went back into producing and launched The Great Getaway Game on Travel Channel in 1990. Two years after that program went off the air, Martindale teamed up with Bill Hillier and The Family Channel to produce a series of "interactive" game shows that put an emphasis on home viewers being able to play along from home and win prizes. Four series were commissioned and Martindale served as host for all four. The first to premiere was Trivial Pursuit, an adaptation of the popular trivia-based board game that started on June 7, 1993. On March 7, 1994, the list-based Shuffle and Boggle, another board game adaptation, premiered and were much different from Trivial Pursuit which was presented more in a traditional game-show style. These two programs, along with the Jumble-based show that replaced Shuffle on June 13, 1994, after its initial 14-week run ended, were played more like the interactive games for the home viewers that were the focus of the block. Except for Trivial Pursuit, none of the interactive games was much of a success; Boggle ended on November 18, 1994, while Jumble came to an end on December 30, 1994. Trivial Pursuit ended on the same day as Jumble, but continued to air in reruns for sometime afterward, finally being removed from the Family Channel schedule in July 1995.

In June 1996, Martindale became host of the Lifetime's highest-rated quiz show, Debt, which had debt-ridden contestants compete to try to eliminate their debts. After Debt ended in 1998 (though it was still going on strong, much due to the fact that more males were watching the show, than females), Martindale did not host another game show for over a decade.

Later career

On June 2, 2006, Martindale received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2007, he became a member of the nominating committee of the Hit Parade Hall of Fame. On October 13, 2007, Martindale was one of the first inductees into the American TV Game Show Hall of Fame in Las Vegas.

Martindale was one of the hosts featured in the NBC special Most Outrageous Game Show Moments, alongside Bob Eubanks, Jim Lange, Ben Stein, and Peter Marshall, but was not featured in any of the subsequent episodes ordered by the network.

Martindale has appeared in various TV commercials, including a stint as a pitchman for the travel website Orbitz. Until 2007, Martindale had a daily three-hour show on the syndicated Music Of Your Life format, which is heard on around 200 radio stations. On June 2, 2009, Martindale signed with the syndicated Hit Parade Radio format.[6] The format began operation on February 7, 2010, with Martindale as afternoon drive personality. The syndicator stopped operating on June 6, 2010.[7]

In 2008, Wink appeared on GSN Live, an interstitial program during the afternoon block of classic game show reruns. Several times during 2008, Martindale filled in for Fred Roggin on GSN Live while Roggin was on vacation. Martindale's last program was the GSN original series Instant Recall, which premiered on March 4, 2010.[8] Instant Recall was the first show Martindale has hosted since Debt aired on Lifetime from 1996 to 1998.[9]

In 2012, Martindale returned to radio, as host of The 100 Greatest Christmas Hits Of All-Time. The nationally syndicated show is produced by Envision Radio Networks.

In 2014, Martindale started his own YouTube channel, called Wink's Vault, featuring episodes of game shows, game show pilots, rare clips from various game shows, and more.

Martindale made a special guest appearance on the December 2, 2014 episode of the GSN show The Chase hosted by Brooke Burns and featuring Mark Labbett.

In October 2016, Martindale appeared on the daytime soap opera The Bold and The Beautiful, as a minister.

Personal life

He married Madelyn Leech in 1954, and was divorced in 1971. Martindale married his second wife, Sandy (née Ferra), on August 2, 1975. He has four children, all from his first marriage: Lisa, Lynn, Laura, and Wink, Jr. He also has seven grandchildren: Emilee, Stephen, and Blake from Lisa; Matthew and Hannah from Lynn; and Erin and Tara from Laura; plus four great-grandchildren from Emilee—Emma, Charlie, Ellie, and Crosby.

Wink has a few dogs named after the various game shows he hosted.

Martindale is a born-again Christian and was once a guest on the TBN flagship program Praise the Lord.

In popular culture

Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker coach Don Martindale goes by the nickname "Wink" as a nod to Martindale.


  1. On his Facebook page, many people wished him a happy 80th birthday, so he was born in 1933.
  2. "1933-game-show-host-wink-martindale-who-went-to-no-7-in-1959-with-the". November 6, 2015. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  3. spotlight
  4. Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 115. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  5. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London Land: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 352. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  6. "Earthworks Entertainment's Hit Parade Radio Signs Wink Martindale" (PDF). Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  7. "Earthworks Entertainment's Hit Parade Radio Announces Launch Date on Clear Channel Satellite" (PDF). Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  8. Sassone, Bob. "Wink Martindale to Host 'Instant Recall' on GSN Starting March 4". TV Squad (AOL). Retrieved February 5, 2010.
  9. Davis, Alex. "Wink Martindale Hosts GSN's Instant Recall Starting March 4th". Buzzerblog. Retrieved February 5, 2010.

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