A memorial service will be held Friday for William...

By   |   Oct. 15, 1980

PHILADELPHIA -- A memorial service will be held Friday for William Thornton Martin Jr., better known to thousands of Saturday Evening Post readers as Pete Martin through his 'I Call On ...' interviews.

Martin died Monday of a heart attack at his Birchrunville home.


He was 79.

Martin, one of the most prolific of the Post's stable of non-fiction writers, was senior writer, associate editor and entertainment editor for more than a decade during the magazine's heyday.

He left the magazine in 1962 when it moved from Philadelphia to New York but continued to do freelance work for it.

His last story was about Johnny Carson and the Academy Awards show.

During his 37 years with the Post, Martin produced nearly 500 articles, 105 of them 'I Call On...' interviews with celebrities.

It was a style he developed in Hollywood when he used a tape recorder to do extensive interviews with movie stars. His first was an eight-part interview with Bing Crosby in 1953, which later became the book, 'Call Me Lucky.'

That interview, and one with Bob Hope, set circulation records for the Post.

Martin also ghosted books, including so many 'as told to Pete Martin' books that in a 1963 interview he said he had 'the dubious distinction of being one of the most famous ghosts in the writing business.'

He turned his tape recorded interviews into a book in 1962 and had a long string of titles under his own name to his credit, as well as hundreds of short articles.

He is survived by his wife, Virginia Bird Martin, also an author, and a son, a daughter, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. in St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Glenmoore, Pa.