Wink Martindale - The Life and Legacy of Wink Martindale: Game Show Icon and Television Personality - 10/Feb/2024

Wink Martindale – The Life and Legacy of Wink Martindale: Game Show Icon and Television Personality – 10/Feb/2024

The Life and Legacy of Wink Martindale: Game Show Icon and Television Personality

Winston Conrad “Wink” Martindale is a name synonymous with American television game shows. His suave demeanor, warm voice, and unmistakable charm made him a household favorite for decades. In this comprehensive look at his career and impact on the television industry, we’ll explore Martindale’s journey from a humble beginning to his rise as one of the most recognized game show hosts in the United States.

Early Life and Career Beginnings

Wink Martindale was born on December 4, 1933, in Jackson, Tennessee. From an early age, Martindale showed an affinity for entertainment and broadcasting. He attended Jackson High School and lated earned a degree from the University of Memphis.

His broadcasting career began at age 17 when he became a disc jockey at WPLI radio while still a student. His mellifluous voice and personable nature quickly won him fans, setting the stage for a career that would soon transition into television.

Transition to Television

Martindale’s transition from radio to television was as smooth as his on-air persona. He moved into hosting local TV programs and then, after relocating to Los Angeles, California, his big break came courtesy of a stint as the host of the TV show “Teenage Dance Party.” It wasn’t long before Martindale’s talents were recognized by bigger networks.

Rise to Game Show Fame

The pinnacle of Wink Martindale’s career came as he pivoted primarily to game show hosting. His first major national role was as the host of “Can You Top This” in 1970. Shortly thereafter, he landed the spot as host of “Gambit,” a role that would solidify his place in the pantheon of great game show hosts. “Gambit” ran successfully from 1972 to 1976, with Martindale’s popularity growing with each episode.

Perhaps more significant still was his tenure on “Tic-Tac-Dough,” which began in 1978 and continued throughout the 1980s. Here, Martindale honed his ability to put contestants at ease while building suspense for home viewers

  • traits that would become trademarks of his hosting style.

    Later Career and Other Endeavors

    While best known for his work in game shows, Wink Martindale’s talents didn’t recede after his most popular hosting gigs ended. He continued to stay relevant by hosting other game show formats such as “Trivial Pursuit,” “Debt,” and “Instant Recall.”

    Beyond television, Martindale pursued endeavors in other areas related to entertainment. These included voice-over work, production roles (through his company, Wink Martindale Enterprises), and even music. As a recording artist, he enjoyed a hit with the spoken word record “Deck of Cards” in 1959.

    Throughout his illustrious career, Martindale has been recognized not just for the longevity of his career but also for his influence on the genre of televised game shows. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006 for his contributions to television.

    Critical Assessment and Influence

    Wink Martindale isn’t just remembered fondly by viewers; industry critics have often cited his steady hand as a host who was deeply invested in the success of the participants on his shows. Universally lauded for his professionalism, warmth, and humor, Martindale became a model for future hosts aiming to strike the right balance between showman and supportive guide.

    His influence can be easily traced in the current generation of game show hosts who emulate Martindale’s direct yet friendly approach to engaging both their studio participants and television audiences.


  • Wink Martindale was born on December 4th, 1933 in Jackson, Tennessee.
  • He received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 2006.
  • Known best for hosting shows such as “Gambit” and “Tic-Tac-Dough”.
  • Achieved recording success with “Deck of Cards” which was released in 1959.
  • Beyond hosting game shows, engaged in production efforts with Wink Martindale Enterprises.
  • Image Description

    A charismatic Wink Martindale holds a microphone on the set of a vibrant-colored game show during his heyday as a TV host. The background includes large game boards and glimmering lights that are indicative of classic American game show sets from the ’70s and ’80s.