Looking through old shoeboxes, cigar boxes, and other musty and dusty places where I've stored priceless photographs I've acquired over the years, I came across this early photograph of the WHBQ-TV show Top Ten Dance Party and wanted to share it with you. Perhaps you can help me identify some of the young men and women in the picture. Everyone seems to be wearing name tags, but I can't read them. One clue is the "F" worn by two of the ladies on their sweaters (are they cheerleaders?) — indicating they attended Fairview Junior High or Frayser High School here. Or Fairley, I just don't know.
As you can see, the photo is dated 1958, which is just about the first year the show went on the air. Way in the back, barely visible among all those people, is the congenial host, Wink Martindale. I don't remember the name of his co-host, though based on the signature on the photo, her first name was Donna. Does anyone?
Wink (real name: Winston) was born in Jackson, Tennessee, and got a job as a radio DJ when he was just 17 years old. He moved to Memphis to attend what was then Memphis State College, and quickly found himself in the world of television, as the host of a science-fiction-themed kiddie show called Mars Patrol. Wink wore a "space captain" uniform and actually drove around town in a vehicle decked out to look like a rocket ship. He next hosted Dance Party, a show that played the hits of the day, until 1964, when he moved on to bigger and better things, ending up in Hollywood, where he hosted Tic Tac Doe, among other ventures.
His replacement was well-known Memphis DJ George Klein, who changed the name of the show (or maybe someone else did, I can't remember) to one that most Memphians remember — Talent Party — and introduced the famous WHBQ-ties, the team of go-go dancers that accompanied the local bands that appeared each week on the program.
Dance Party (I guess they dropped the "Top Ten" part of the name in later years) was obviously hosted by Coca-Cola, judging from that huge bottle in the photo. As I said earlier (if you were paying attention) if you know anybody in the photo, let me know. Even better, if you are one of the people in the photo, tell me about it.