A CONSUMER AFFAIRS REPORTING PIONEER IS GONE
It was very sad to hear earlier this week of the passing of one of America's earliest local television consumer affairs reporters/advocates. While you may not know his name, you may be familiar in a way of one of his earliest endeavors.
Marvin Zindler was hired by Houston ABC affiliate KTRK in 1971 after a career with the Harris County Sheriff's Department to head up it's newly formed Action 13 consumer affairs segment. While with the HCSO Zindler had helped form it's consumer fraud division, so it was a perfect fit. Zindler, who had previously worked briefly during the 1950s with another Houston TV station but was fired after being told he was too ugly for the medium, took to his new duties much like a duck to water. He was a true pioneer in the field.
Marvin was best known for exposing the Chicken Ranch brothel and the on-camera beat-down he received at the hands of Fayette County Sheriff T.J. Flournoy (two broken ribs and his toupee being pulled off). The episode was later made famous in a Playboy article, which later became the basis for the Broadway musical and later motion picture The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Dom DeLuise played the character based on Zindler), as well as ZZ Top's hit song La Grange.
He was, to say the least, flamboyant. White suits in a world of dark coloured coats on-camera, blue-tinted glasses, a full-throated closing "MAAAAAARVIN ZINDLER, EYYYYYYYYYYEWITNESS NEWS!", and so much more. He helped thousands of people over his 30-plus years. After Sadaam Hussen's fall, Zindler helped seven Iraqi citizens who had their hands cut off receive prostethic devices, which President Bush mentioned this week in noting the passing of a fellow Houstonion.
"Marvin was a Texas legend with a bigger than life personality who dominated Houston TV for decades," Bush said in a statement. "He was also a kind and compassionate man who made it his life's work to help others in need."
Marvin Zinder died Sunday evening at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston following complications from pancreatic cancer. He kept to his lifetime contract by filing reports from his hospital bed, most recently helping a man who had been trying to get a Social Security card to be eligible for work. His funeral was Wednesday at his temple with a ecumenical service led by five ministers, including Houston-based televangalist Joel Osteen.
Here is the Houston Chronicle report of his passing, and the report of his funeral service.
It is only appropriate that as we head toward the weekend, I leave you with another one of Marvin's well known wishes: "Good golf, good tennis, or whatever makes you happy!"