Marvin Zindler was a Texas original. He had been a member of the Houston media for more than 50 years. During his career Zindler has reached out to lend a helping hand to thousands of people in his role as a broadcaster, pioneering a brand of advocacy journalism at ABC-owned KTRK-TV. In his trademark booming voice, “Marvin Zindler, Eyewitness News” has helped Texas viewers cut through red tape and overcome frustrating obstacles on matters involving consumer, medical, legal and governmental issues and more.
He joined KTRK on January 1, 1973, and from his first day on air his flamboyant investigative reporting style made headlines. Over the years his office has been known to receive nearly 100,000 letters a year on subjects ranging from consumer complaints, requests for medical help and food stamps, to Social Security, IRS issues, housing and immigration problems. He responded to every letter.
Marvin Zindler’s broadcasting career began in 1943 as a part-time radio disc jockey while working for is family’s clothing store. In 1950 he became a reporter and cameraman for Southwest Film Production Company, which produced the 6p.m. news for KPRC-TV, and later joined Scripps Howard’s as a crime reporter and photographer. In 1962 he took a significant career detour and joined the Harris County Sheriff’s Department. Zindler transferred to the department’s Fugitive Squad, and was later assigned by the Sheriff and District Attorney to establish a Consumer Fraud Division with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, a department that remains operational today. It was during this time that he got his first taste of advocacy work. During his initial years at the station, Zindler made headlines when he exposed the infamous “Chicken Ranch” of prostitution in LaGrange, Texas. The story was spectacular and later became the basis for a Broadway musical, and a motion picture, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”. He made history when he signed an unprecedented lifetime contract with Capital Cities/ABC and KTRK.
Born in Houston in 1921, Zindler attended public schools and John Tarleton Agricultural College in Stephenville. The World War II veteran has been recognized with numerous awards including the Scottish Rite Masonry’s 33rd Degree, their highest honor. He has also been honored by numerous charity groups as well as news and health-related organizations. One of Zindler’s most public recognitions came from the Plastic Surgeons of America for his frankness in discussing his own 14 cosmetic surgeries and for lending support for charity patients who desperately need reconstructive surgery.
The irascible, flamboyant 85-year-old television personality had been diagnosed in July 2007 with inoperable pancreatic cancer that spread to his liver died July 29, 2007
Even in his last days, Zindler continued to work, filing reports from his hospital bed. In his last report, broadcast Saturday, July28, 2007, in which he helped a 45-year-old U.S. citizen secure a Social Security card necessary for employment, Zindler appeared thin and his voice was weak. Still, he signed off with a hearty “MARVIN ZINDLER, eyewitness news” — his trademark for 34 years with KTRK Channel 13.
“Marvin Zindler was unique,” said Dave Ward, the station’s longtime anchor and one of the people responsible for Zindler being on the air, as well as being the 2011 Silver Circle Inductee. “There’s never been anyone who lived life more than this man or who wanted to do more than this man. This is a personal loss to me and to everyone at this station — and to every man, woman and child, really, who lives in Southeast Texas.”
Mr. Zindler’s first wife, Gertrude Zindler, died in 1997 after 56 years of marriage. Survivors include his wife of four years, Niki Zindler of Houston; five children from the first marriage; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.