|Interview conducted by Glenn Dallas|
No list of legendary game show hosts would be complete without including Wink Martindale, a man whose winning smile and immense charm has made him one of the premiere go-to hosts on radio and television for decades.
Host of “Debt”, “The New High Rollers”, “Las Vegas Gambit”, and numerous other shows, he was awarded a well-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006, cementing his legacy as game show royalty alongside other greats like Bill Cullen and Gene Rayburn.
Wink very graciously agreed to take some time out to talk to our friends at Puzzle Nation who were generous in sharing the interview with Forces of Geek readers!
You have hosted an astonishing twenty-one game shows, including “Password Plus,” “The New Tic-Tac-Dough,” and my personal favorite, “Trivial Pursuit.” Beyond winning prizes, what do you think is the appeal of game shows to viewers?
Game shows have always enjoyed an appeal – from their days on radio to the present. In my view the main reason is that listeners/viewers LOVE to see other people become “winners”. They play along picturing themselves as contestants…i.e. “I can do that”! Little do they know “it’s not quite as easy as it looks”.
What qualities does a great game show contestant need? In your estimation, how much of an asset is a background in puzzles when it comes to strategy and game show success?
A background in puzzles is certainly not a requirement for a contestant. The main requirement is the player’s desire to “win” and compete. He or she should know the rules of game play “backwards and forwards” before attempting to play the game on TV. Naturally if the show is Q & A it helps to be above average at all subjects of trivia.
What’s your fondest memory from your work in television?
I have far too many to attempt to come up with just one “favorite” memory. But if I had to nail just one – it would probably be the day my agent called and told me I’d been selected as host of my FIRST network game show, “What’s This Song”, on NBC – 1966. Like your first car or your first house, there is nothing that can compete with THE FIRST anything!
In the last few years, you’ve appeared on “Instant Recall” and Betty White’s comedy show “Off Their Rockers.” What hobbies and activities do you enjoy in your off-time?
I tried golf several years ago. But being a left-hander I quickly determined golf wasn’t for me. I took up tennis and to this day it is my favorite sport, and pastime.
If you could give the readers, writers, aspiring game show contestants, and puzzle fans in the audience one piece of advice, what would it be?
The most important piece of advice I ALWAYS give to those who ask, whether they be aspiring contestants, hosts….whomever – is prepare yourself (re-read #2 above). And if possible – acquire as much formal education as possible….high school and/or college.
Plus, if hosting is one’s love, if possible get as much experience as possible in your hometown and/or small market. My BS degree from the U. of Memphis along with my years on radio helped me immensely in terms of overall knowledge and the ability to ad-lib.