The following story appeared in Memphis Magazine:
By Michael Finger
Memphians lining the streets downtown to watch the 1954 Thanksgiving Day parade probably gawked at this "space ship" lumbering down Main. But the words "Mars Patrol" emblazoned on the side of the unusual float reassured them that no aliens were in their midst that day, for that was the title of a popular TV show hosted by a young Memphis State University student named Winston Conrad Martindale.
"Wink" Martindale, as he is better known today, was described by a reporter that year as an "atomically energized young man," and that wasn't just hype. He worked at three radio shows in his native Jackson, Tennessee, before moving to Memphis to take an announcer job with WHBQ - all this before he was 20. In 1955, he became captain of Mars Patrol, which showcased Flash Gordon films in between interviews with local kiddies. Two years later, he became the popular host of a show called Top Ten Dance Party (later renamed Talent Party and hosted by George Klein). Along the way, he recorded a handful of hit records, and his album Deck of Cards, a collection of religious and inspirational songs, sold close to a million copies.
Hollywood beckoned, and Wink moved to California, where he landed bit parts in a couple of forgettable movies and got announcing jobs with several Los Angeles radio stations. It looked like he was set to land a plum role as the host of a new TV show patterned after Dance Party, but at the last minute ABC handed American Bandstand to a newcomer named Dick Clark.
Still, Wink did okay, hosting a number of daytime game shows before landing the job as emcee of the long-running hit Tic Tac Dough. His latest venture? Hosting a show called Debt on the Lifetime Channel. It's been a long journey since the early flights of Mars Patrol.