'Gong Show' Creator Chuck Barris Dead at 87

24 March, 2017, 01:30 | Author: Evan Mason
  • In 2002 Chuck Barris the man behind TV's The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game posed in the lobby of his apartment in New York. That was the year a movie came out based on his autobiography Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Chuck Barris, the madcap producer of US TV's The Gong Show and The Dating Game, has died at 87.

Chuck Barris, the host and creator of The Gong Show, died Tuesday of natural causes at his home in Palisades, New York.

He was the man behind such hit game shows as The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and Chuck Barris' ultimate variety show, The Gong Show.

He wrote a song, "Palisades Park", that reached No. 3 on the Billboard pop charts in 1962 for singer Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon.

He was also a one-hit songwriter - Freddy Cannon took his "Palisades Park" almost to the top of the charts in 1962 - and a cameo player in the actual movie of his life, George Clooney's 2002 "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind", based on his 1984 "unauthorized autobiography". But the show's clearest echoes extend to "The Apprentice", where instead of hearing a gong, losers were brusquely informed, "You're fired!" by future President Donald Trump.

Barris shocked the world when he claimed in his autobiography that his game show career had merely been a cover for his work as a Central Intelligence Agency operative.

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In 1980, Barris attempted a film sequel to the show, creating The Gong Show Movie with Robert Downey, Sr. The book (and the 2002 film based on it, directed by George Clooney) were widely dismissed by disbelievers. "I think The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game began the momentum for what eventually became Fear Factor, The Jerry Springer Show, Joe Millionaire, and so on".

At one point in his career, Barris was providing 27 hours of entertainment per week with his daytime game shows, calling himself the "King of Daytime Television".

In 1966, Mr. Barris launched a second show, "The Newlywed Game", with four recently married couples who answered comical and intimate questions about their partners. Eleven years later, Barris stepped in front of the camera to host The Gong Show, a talent show spoof that featured in-house characters such as the "Unknown Comic" and "Gene Gene the Dancing Machine" alongside other contestants.

"When I graduated college, I didn't know what I wanted to do", Chuck said. "I mean, we had Johnny Depp in it, Ben Stiller was going to do it, Mark [read: Mike] Myers said he was going to do it, [Russell] Crowe was going to do it, Kevin Spacey was going to do it, Ed Norton was definitely going to do it". I thought it would be a cathartic thing, getting all of it down on paper. Long before Simon and Paula fought over an Idol performer's value, Gong Show would have judges physically restraining each other to prevent one of them from gonging an act. His first marriage to Lynn Levy ended in divorce and their daughter, Della, died of a drug overdose in 1998.

When I was a kid growing up in a small town in Indiana, The Gong Show was a window into a odd new world. A little-known Andy Kaufman, who guested on the premiere of "SNL", lip-syncing to the "Mighty Mouse" theme, might as easily have appeared on "The Gong Show".

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