Josh Levin at Slate caught up with an old Memphian for reaction on last week's death of TV and pop culture icon Dick Clark. Wink Martindale, host of TV game shows including "High Rollers" and "Tic-Tac-Dough," grew up in Jackson, Tenn., and got his start in TV here in Memphis after graduating from then-Memphis State. His career basically paralleled Clark's (TV dance shows, game shows), and the two men were friends and business rivals for decades.
Martindale got his start in Memphis hosting a show called "Top 10 Dance Party." A personal friend of Elvis Presley--the King dated Martindale's future wife Sandy before he married Priscilla--the Tennessee native made his name by conducting an extensive early on-air interview with Elvis. Though Martindale has heard that he was under consideration for hosting duties onAmerican Bandstand in 1956, that job went to Clark, who held on to it for more than three decades.
"He was all powerful," Martindale says. The best examples of Clark's star-making ability, according to Martindale, are Fabian, Frankie Avalon, and Bobby Rydell, all of whom became overnight teen idols after being shepherded onto the air by Clark and his producer Tony Mammarella. "Before cable, there was American Bandstand," Martindale says. "That's where Justin Bieber--is that his name, Justin Bieber?--that's where he would [have gone]."