Wink Martindale is a name that has been synonymous with entertainment for over six decades. From his humble beginnings as a disc jockey in Tennessee to his illustrious career as a game show host and television producer, Wink has captivated audiences with his charisma, wit and charm. He has hosted some of the most popular and enduring game shows in history, such as Gambit, Tic-Tac-Dough, High Rollers and Debt. He is one of the few celebrities who can claim to have met Elvis Presley before he became famous, and to have recorded a hit song that sold over a million copies.
Wink Martindale is a legendary figure in the entertainment industry, having hosted more than 20 game shows, as well as being a radio personality, disc jockey and television producer. His career spans six decades, from the 1950s to the present day, and he has amassed a considerable fortune along the way.
As of 2023, Wink Martindale has an estimated net worth of $20 million. He earned this money from his various endeavors in radio and television, as well as from his recordings and productions.
Wink Martindale has also invested in real estate, owning several properties over the years. In 2020, he sold his longtime home in Calabasas, California, for $2.16 million. The French-country-inspired house had six bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms, a rotunda entry, a two-story family room, a custom swimming pool with waterfalls, and a guard-gated community. He had bought the home in 1993 for $900,000.
Wink Martindale is also fond of cars, especially vintage ones. In 1970, he appeared in a Volkswagen commercial with McLean Stevenson, recalling the 1949 Auto Show where VW introduced cars to the United States. He also owns a 1949 DeSoto convertible that he bought from his father-in-law.
Wink Martindale is not only wealthy, but also generous. He has supported various charitable causes over the years, such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the American Heart Association and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He has also received numerous awards and honors for his contributions to the entertainment industry, such as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
Family & Upbringing
Winston Conrad ‘Wink’ Martindale was born on the 4th of December 1933 in Jackson, Tennessee. Born and raised in Jackson, Wink comes from humble beginnings. While his father’s name was James Martindale, details about his mother are relatively unknown. Winks also had an older brother, Leo Martindale, who joined the US Army but died at the age of 75 on the 11th of March 2003. Wink’s mother was a huge fan of soap operas and it was her that influenced Wink to make a career in the entertainment industry. Wink graduated from a local high school in Jackson but was determined to finish college. He later enrolled at Memphis State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1957.
Wink was fascinated by the radio and wanted to make a name for himself. Following this yearning, he took up his first job as a disc jockey at the age of 17. His first proper job at a radio station came when he was 18. Wanting to climb up in the world, Wink later moved to the WHBQ radio station. Wink continued to work as a radio host and was heard across several radio stations including KRLA, KGIL, KFWB, and KHJ. In 1971, Wink was asked to make an appearance as the mid-day personality on Gene Autry’s flagship show, Station of the Stars. He held the position for 12 years before leaving his career as a radio host to move into TV.
Wink’s first appearance on television came on the Memphis TV channel WHBQ-TV, where he hosted a science-fiction show for children entitled, Mars Patrol. He later hosted the reality show Teenage Dance Party before moving on to game shows.
Wink’s first appearance as a game show host came from 1964 to 1965, when he hosted the series What’s This Song?. This was followed by a similar show entitled, Words and Music. He first tasted success with the 1972 game show, Gambit. He continued his newfound success with another hit show, Tic-Tac-Dough which aired from 1978 to 1985. His newfound success enabled Wink to establish his own company, Wink Martindale Enterprises.
The first show to come out of the newly formed Martindale Enterprises was Headline Chasers. The series didn’t enjoy much success and was replaced by Bumper Stumpers. Wink continued to make TV shows and was the host behind, Trivial Pursuit, Jumble, and Boggle.
Wink’s highest-rated TV show was the 1996’s game show, Debt. The series featured competitors who were competing to get rid of their debts.
Here is a brief timeline of Wink Martindale’s career:
1951-1959: Worked as a disc jockey at various radio stations in Tennessee and Memphis. Moved to Los Angeles and hosted several radio shows. Interviewed Elvis Presley. Recorded the hit song “Deck of Cards”.
1960-1967: Hosted his first game show, What’s This Song? on NBC. Acted in a short futuristic documentary film about home life in the year 1999. Hosted ‘Dream Girl of ’67’
1968-1971: Also hosted Can You Top This? and Words and Music.
1972-1976: Hosted Gambit, a blackjack-themed game show on CBS. Also hosted the syndicated version from 1980 to 1981.
1977-1988: Hosted several game shows including The New High Rollers, Headline Chasers, and Tic-Tac-Dough, Bumper Stumpers. Also produced several game shows, such as Second Honeymoon and Headline Chaser.
1990-1996: Hosted Trivial Pursuit, Boogle: The Interactive Game and Debt. Also produced Travel Channel show The Great Getaway Game.
1996-present: Continued to host and produce various game shows. Also appeared as an actor, voice, and guest on several TV shows and documentaries, such as The Bold & Beautiful, Hilton Head Island, Game Changers, Soap Centre and Daily Blast Live.
Wink Martindale is currently 89 years old, but he is still active in the entertainment industry. He hosts a podcast called “Wink Martindale’s Vault”, where he shares stories and interviews from his long career. He also appears on various game shows and documentaries as a guest or a narrator.
Rumors & Controversies
Wink Martindale has been involved in several controversies over the years. Some of them are related to his career, while others are more personal. Here are some of the most notable ones:
Rigging the outcomes of Tic-Tac-Dough: One of the earliest rumors about Martindale was that he was involved in rigging the outcomes of his game shows, especially Tic-Tac-Dough. The show, which aired from 1978 to 1985, featured a tic-tac-toe board with nine categories of questions. The contestants had to answer correctly to place their X or O on the board and win cash prizes. However, some viewers suspected that the questions were manipulated to favor certain contestants or create more drama. For instance, in 1980, a contestant named Thom McKee won 43 consecutive games and amassed over $300,000 in winnings, setting a record for the longest winning streak on a game show at the time. Some critics accused Martindale of giving McKee easier questions or letting him choose his preferred categories more often than his opponents. Martindale dismissed the accusations and said that McKee was simply a very smart and lucky player who knew how to play the game well.
Cancelation of Debt: A more serious controversy that affected Martindale was the cancellation of his show Debt in 1998. The show, which premiered in 1996, featured contestants who had to answer trivia questions to pay off their debts. The show was praised for its originality and humor, but it also faced criticism for exploiting the financial woes of its contestants and making light of a serious social issue. Some advertisers pulled out of the show, citing ethical concerns or low ratings.
The friendly feud with Chuck Woolery and Gene Rayburn: Wink Martindale had a long-standing rivalry with fellow game show hosts Chuck Woolery and Gene Rayburn, who gave him the nickname of “Stink Fartindale” as a joke. The three of them would often tease each other on air and off air, but they also respected each other as professionals and friends.
The Elvis Presley connection: Wink Martindale was one of the first DJs to play Elvis Presley’s music on the radio, and he witnessed his rise to fame firsthand. On July 10, 1954, he was showing the WHBQ studio to some friends when he realized that his colleague Dewey Phillips was getting a lot of reactions from listeners after airing a new song by Presley called “That’s All Right”. Martindale rushed to the studio and interviewed Presley on air, becoming one of the first people to do so. Martindale and his wife Sandy did not attend the funeral of his longtime friend Elvis Presley when the singer died on August 16, 1977. They did not want to be a part of the circus-like atmosphere surrounding the event. Instead, they visited Graceland a week later and paid their respects privately.
His futuristic documentary film about home life in 1999: In 1967, Martindale acted in a short futuristic documentary film about home life in the year 1999 produced by the Philco-Ford Corporation. The film was titled 1999 A.D. and it featured a nuclear family living in a modular home with a central computer that controlled various aspects of their daily life, such as health monitoring, education, cooking, and shopping. The film has been widely circulated on the Internet as an example of how some predictions came true while others did not.
Wink Martindale is a devoted family man, who has been married twice and has four children. Wink’s first wife was Madelyn Leech, whom he married in 1954 when he was just 21 years old. They had four children together: Wink Jr., Lisa, Lynn, and Laura. Wink and Madelyn were married for 18 years, but they eventually divorced in 1972. Wink has not revealed much about the reasons for their separation, but he has maintained a cordial relationship with his ex-wife and his children.
Wink’s second wife is Sandy Ferra, whom he married in 1975. Sandy is the daughter of John Ferra, a music producer who worked with Elvis Presley. Wink and Sandy have been married for 48 years now, and they are still very much in love. They have no children of their own, but they have been supportive of Wink’s children from his previous marriage.
Wink and Sandy are also involved in charity work, especially for children’s causes. They have supported organizations such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Children’s Miracle Network, and Make-A-Wish Foundation. They have also donated to various churches and ministries.
Wink Martindale has a distinctive appearance that reflects his charisma and charm. He has a tall and slender build, blue eyes and light brown hair that he often styles in a neat comb-over or a slicked-back look. He has a friendly smile that reveals his white teeth and dimples. He has a smooth and clear complexion that belies his age of 89.
Wink Martindale’s style is elegant and sophisticated. He favors suits and ties in classic colors such as navy, gray, black, or brown. He sometimes adds a touch of flair with a colorful pocket square or a patterned tie. He wears polished shoes and a wristwatch to complete his look. He also likes to accessorize with eyeglasses, which he wears for reading or for effect. He has a confident and graceful posture that exudes professionalism and authority.
Wink Martindale was born on December 4, 1934, under the sign of Sagittarius, the archer. As a Sagittarius, he is adventurous, optimistic, and enthusiastic. He loves to explore new horizons and challenge himself with new experiences. He has a great sense of humor and a witty way with words. He is also honest, generous, and loyal to his friends and family.
However, like any zodiac sign, Sagittarius also has some negative traits. Wink Martindale can be restless, impatient, and tactless at times. He may also be overconfident, careless, and dogmatic. He needs to learn to balance his freedom with his responsibilities and to be more sensitive to the feelings of others.
Wink Martindale’s zodiac sign reflects his remarkable career and personality. He has hosted many popular game shows, such as Gambit, Tic-Tac-Dough, High Rollers, and Debt, showcasing his charisma, intelligence, and creativity. He has also been a successful disc jockey, radio presenter, and television producer, demonstrating his versatility, curiosity, and ambition. He has interviewed many celebrities, including Elvis Presley, whom he befriended in 1954 after playing his first record on the air.
Wink Martindale is a true Sagittarius who has lived a rich and fulfilling life. He is an inspiration to many people who admire his talent, passion, and generosity.
Winston Conrad Martindale
Date of birth
December 4, 1933
Place of birth
Jackson, Tennessee, USA
Memphis State University (Bachelor of Science degree in 1957)
Disc jockey, radio personality, game show host, television producer