50 years ago: ABC13's Marvin Zindler investigated the Chicken Ranch in 1973

Marvin Zindler's investigation into prostitution inspired 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas'

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When Marvin Zindler exposed the infamous Chicken Ranch
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In July 1973, Marvin Zindler exposed what was going on at the Chicken Ranch, in La Grange, Texas.

LA GRANGE, Texas (KTRK) -- Known to Hollywood as the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the La Grange Chicken Ranch made headlines after Channel 13's Marvin Zindler got it shut down after airing a series of investigative reports. Prostitution wasn't legal in Texas in the 1970s, but that didn't stop the sex for sale at one of the last brothels standing in the state.

The expose that aired in late July and early August of 1973 launched Marvin's legendary career as an investigative reporter. The story it revealed it inspired the Broadway musical and movie, "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," ultimately starring Dolly Parton, Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise. Texas' own ZZ Top paid homage to the story with a wink and a nod in the song "La Grange," also released in 1973.

It all started when Action 13 received an anonymous complaint about alleged houses of prostitution. Marvin Zindler enlisted the help of ABC13 photographer Larry Conners, who approached Edna Milton -- the madam of the ranch -- on camera about the type of business she was conducting on the property.

Conners asked, "You're not operating a house of prostitution?"

Milton responded, "Whether I am or not, it's none of your business."

As the investigation continued, Marvin discovered financial kickbacks that allowed the ranch to remain open for as long as it did.

Conners continued, "Who else gets money, any of that? Any law officials? Government officials?"

Milton replied, "Certainly, the federal government, certainly they get their pint of blood for every quart you give, they get theirs."

But Marvin didn't give up, and put continued pressure on government officials to shut it down. One phone call from the governor to the sheriff closed the 'bawdy houses' that had been operating illegally for 129 years.

A few years after its closure, part of the building was moved to Dallas to become a restaurant, which only lasted three months.

But the rest of the ranch has been left open to the elements, weathering down to tattered remains. In 2016, ABC13 got exclusive access to the property.

At that time, there was an effort in the works to get a historical marker for the site, calling it an integral piece of Texas history.

SEE ALSO: ABC13 anchors share touching memories of Marvin Zindler on what would have been his 100th birthday