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Wink Martindale and the birth of Elvis-Mania

It was Halloween when we met with the gracious and warm Wink Martindale in his beautiful Calabasas home. Our crew (myself, director Mike Kacey, producer Dave Sanford, cinematographer Cameron Cutler, sound mixer Dave J. Beirne, and production assistant Lucas Wesley) carefully set up an area in Wink’s impressive home. His wife Sandy also kindly welcomed us and we soon dove into the interview.

Wink regaled us with his start in radio broadcasting at the age of 17 and his quick rise on Memphis radio and television. As a jock on WHBQ, Wink witnessed the birth of Elvis-mania as he watched as fellow DJ Dewey Phillips played Elvis Presley’s demo record “That’s All Right Mama” over the airwaves for the first time. The phone lines lit up and the rest is history. He and Elvis became friends soon after. Wink was there to witness the incredible rise of Beatle-mania as well. Wink’s career included gigs at the number one station is LA in the early 1960s, KFWB, and later Gene Autry’s 50,000-watt station KMPC.

Of course his career took off with his success as a game show host. He has hosted 19 of them, more than anyone except for the late Bill Cullen. He had a Top 40 hit record (“Deck of Cards”) and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Wink patiently let us complete the interview even though he needed to get ready for a dinner appointment. He never made us feel extra pressure and I very much appreciated his professionalism and supreme generosity with his time.

His autobiography, “Winking at Life” is a delight, by the way. Wink03