Houston Treasure for 2008
Photo by: Evin Thayer Studios
Publisher’s note: Marvin Zindler passed away in mid-2007 after being chosen as an honoree. His legacy is timeless and his contributions to humanity and especially Houston are forever remembered.
Legendary television broadcaster Marvin Zindler was known for his trademark white hairpieces, blue lenses and signature sign-off. A fearless, flamboyant trail-blazer, Marvin’s nightly news reports helped create a new genre of American journalism—consumer advocacy.
Marvin’s early journalism career was interrupted by a stint working for the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, where he was responsible for establishing a Consumer Fraud Division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. After Dave Ward enticed him to join KTRK-TV, Marvin became one of the first broadcasters in Houston to investigate controversial issues and institutions, and he became a household name for exposing a brothel in La Grange known as The Chicken Ranch. The nationwide notoriety over the brothel’s closing inspired the Broadway musical and movie, “Best Little Whorehouse In Texas.”
Marvin exploited his influence to expose substandard care at nursing homes, obtain special medical care for those who could not afford it, help thousands cut through bureaucratic red tape and help many more successfully resolve their consumer problems. Ranking high among Marvin’s accomplishments was his investigation into restaurant health violations that resulted in nationwide regulations on food sanitation. His “Rat and Roach Reports” improved cleanliness and food safety in restaurant kitchens. Marvin traveled extensively encouraging and documenting Houston doctors alleviating pain and suffering in poor countries around the world. One of his recent accomplishments was assisting seven Iraqi men get replacements “hands” for the ones cut-off by Saddam Hussein’s regime.
During his life, Marvin was recognized with countless awards from news organizations, charities and medical groups, especially for helping charity patients in desperate need of reconstructive surgery. Marvin was a Marine, Freemason, and recipient of the Scottish Rite 33rd Degree. Marvin and Gertrude, his wife of 56 years, raised five children before she passed away. Convincing Niki Devine to marry him energized Marvin through the remainder of his remarkable life.