Monday, July 30, 2007

A Houston icon passes away

When it was announced a few weeks ago that Marvin Zindler had pancreatic cancer which had metastasized to his liver, I knew that the end was near for him. I just didn't think it would happen this quickly. As everybody who lives in Houston now knows, Zindler shoved off this mortal coil yesterday evening. He was 85.

Marvin Zindler has been a local television fixture longer than I have been alive; he began his career at local ABC affiliate KTRK 13 in 1973, at the age of 51, following a stint with the Harris County Sheriff's Department. Previous to that Zindler had worked in local radio, television and print media; he served in World War II as a member of the United States Marine Corps.

Whether it be his role in shuttering the Chicken Ranch brothel in La Grange - later immortalized in the stage musical and movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas - or the thousands of people (mostly children) who received free medical care donated by doctors known as "Marvin's Angels," or his weekly "Rat and Roach" restaurant health inspection reports for which his phrase "SLIIIIIME in the ICE MACHINE!" was known, or his work with local charities, or his innumerable instances of helping "the little guy" negotiate bureaucratic red tape or comsumer fraud through his Action 13 reports, or his signature sign-off of "Maaaarvin Zindler, Eye-Witness News!", Zindler was a local legend.

It's not just local TV news that won't be the same without Marvin Zindler. The entire City of Houston is less for his loss. Marvin Zindler was a true Houston icon, and he can never be replaced.

Kuff, whose first encounter with Marvin Zindler in 1987 left him wondering if the guy was for real, writes about his passing here. Mike McGuff, who had the pleasure of working with Marvin Zindler, shares his thoughts as well:
Experiencing that office was nothing you'll ever see in television anywhere else or ever again. When we went out to do stories, people ran up to meet Marvin and ask for his autograph. For those of you who don't know, that type of thing usually does not happen in local TV. Especially not at that level. That's why Marvin carried around cards he could autograph for people. Here I was an 18 year old kid riding around with a legend and instead of ignoring me, he actually talked to me. He was legitimately curious about my life and asked all kinds of questions. I really was stunned. I felt like Wayne and Garth with a rock star...I truly wasn't worthy.

Rest in peace, Marvin. You will be missed.

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