Chuck Barris, ‘Gong Show’ Host, Dies at 87

Variety – by Pat Saperstein

Chuck Barris, who hosted “The Gong Show” and created “The Dating Game” and “The Newlywed Game,” died Tuesday of natural causes in Palisades, N.Y., his publicist confirmed. He was 87.

His autobiography, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” was made into a film directed by George Clooney and starred Sam Rockwell as Barris. In the book (subtitled “An Unauthorized Autobiography”), he claimed to have worked for the CIA as an assassin during the 1960s and ’70s, a claim which the CIA denied. “He also fabricated his life because it might have been the best way of getting at the truth. The truth was that back when he was the Jerry Springer of his day, he couldn’t stomach being attacked for doing something he considered harmless,” wrote Joel Stein in Time magazine.  

The multi-talented game show creator was also a songwriter, writing songs such as “Palisades Park” as well as music for his game shows.

Born Charles Hirsch Barris in Philadelphia, he started out working as a page at NBC in New York, then worked backstage at “American Bandstand.” “Palisades Park” was recorded by Freddy Cannon and hit No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

He formed Chuck Barris Productions in 1965 and created “The Dating Game,” hosted by Jim Lange, which introduced swinging 1960s double entendres to the formerly staid game show genre and ran for 11 out of the next 15 years. In 1966 he launched “The Newlywed Game,” hosted by Bob Eubanks, which ran for 19 years; Game Show Network still airs a version of the show.

Barris finally made it in front of the camera when he began hosting “The Gong Show” in 1976. Though it only ran two years on NBC and four years in syndication, the show is still remembered for its wacky spoof of the talent show format. He introduced the amateur contestants dressed in colorful clothing with odd props, with judges Jamie Farr, Jaye P. Morgan and Arte Johnson adding to the goofy atmosphere. Other offbeat characters on the show included “Gene Gene the Dancing Machine” and Murray Langston, the “Unknown Comic,” who wore a paper bag over his head.

The show was so popular it spawned a feature film, “The Gong Show Movie,” which failed to catch on the way the TV show had.

Among the other shows he created or produced were a revival of “Your Hit Parade,” “Three’s a Crowd,” which faced criticism as it seemed to promote adultery; “Camouflage,” and “Treasure Hunt.”

In the 1980s after a period living in France, he formed Barris Industries and revived “The Dating Game” and “The Newlywed Game” before selling his shares in the company to Burt Sugarman. Barris Industries acquired Guber-Peters Productions, which was then acquired by Sony Corporation.

He is survived by his wife, Mary.

Donations may be made to the New York Police Foundation.

Chuck Barris, ‘Gong Show’ Host, Dies at 87

6 thoughts on “Chuck Barris, ‘Gong Show’ Host, Dies at 87

  1. “… Murray Langston, the “Unknown Comic,” who wore a paper bag over his head.”

    Best feature on the show… that guy was freakin’ hilarious!

    1. And Gene, Gene The Dancing Machine…The Gong Show is a classic. I’ll take 10 minutes of the Gong Show over a whole season of that retarded American Idol any day. I prefer entertainment where they don’t take themselves so serious!

  2. Chuck Berry 90
    Chuck Barris 87

    any more takers?

    how about Chuck Schumer 66.? can we add him to the list of Chucks?….(666)

  3. Of course Barris was in the CIA. And of course the CIA would deny it.
    Hollywood is teeming with the CIA, like fleas on a homeless dog.
    Most folks would be surprised how many spooks are in front of and behind the camera.
    The television is the greatest brainwashing tool ever invented and they need to keep their agents in place to make sure it stays that way.

  4. Obama had Chuck Barris wiretap Trump, but Barris, after getting shafted by Obama, was going to spill the beans. The gong was a listening device made from captured alien technology, (hence the saucer shape), that only Barris, and a handful of others knew how to use. The last one besides Barris to know was Colby, who was killed while on a fishing trip. (that was the cover story anyway). Gene Gene was the key. He was a product of the MkUltra program, and when he danced, it produced a certain frequency that affected certain types of individuals identified earlier during the Vietnam war era. The purpose still remains classified.

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