'Gong Show' Host Chuck Barris Reportedly Dies At 87

He held several jobs in television early in his career. Barris' task was to ascertain whether Clark was involved in the illegal practice of payola. Chuck Barris knew what the people wanted and instituted many things that's being done today.

Click through the gallery below to see more classic game show hosts then and now.

A fair point considering similar shows that sprung up overseas, including Britain's Blind Date and Australia's Perfect Match. Founded in 1846, AP has covered all the major news events of the past 165 years, providing high-quality, informed reporting of everything from wars and elections to championship games and royal weddings. It was considered crass, demeaning and sexually suggestive - which it was, by design. Barris would introduce an amateur performer to three celebrity judges, who could strike a gong at any moment to stop the performance. Contestants were told that it was an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who was there to arrest anyone who cursed or said anything salacious. He also hosted The Chuck Barris Rah-Rah Show and wrote and starred in 1980's The Gong Show Movie, a fictitious take on a week in the life of its host. Leveraging the tensions and giddiness of newly married couples, the show frequently went wildly off the rails, most infamously in a 1977 episode in which host Bob Eubanks asked "Where, specifically, is the weirdest place that you personally have ever gotten the urge to make whoopie?" and got the legendary answer, "In the ass"-often misremembered as "In the butt, Bob"- from a gamely laughing contestant".

"I've created hit TV shows, but nothing has been great", he told The Times. "They had a leering quality to them and really stood out".

Barris's third (and final) big TV hit, 1976's The Gong Show, similarly moved TV further toward the modern reality era.

There were so many gloriously weird moments from "The Gong Show", we couldn't possibly include them all. Winners received a prize of $516.32. If not, at least you got to meet Jamie Farr. Two barefoot teenage girls sat down on stage and proceeded to lick pink Popsicles.

Barris wrote the semi-autobiographical novel You and Me, Babe in 1974. And Barris gave people that. Though initially uncomfortable on camera, Barris eventually became a shameless showman in his own right, someone who would do anything to cause a stir: he'd reportedly "smear Alpo on his crotch" before a dog act appeared on Gong, all "the better to create onstage embarrassment". His game shows were experiments in spontaneity. "They just want to have some fun". His father, a dentist, died when his son was young.

Charles Hirsch Barris was born June 3, 1929, in Philadelphia, the son of a dentist. Barris used to keep the NBC censors off the show's back by throwing sacrifices at them - acts he knew the censors wouldn't approve, but that would distract them from the acts he wanted on the air.

Later, as a producer, Mr. Barris filled 27 hours of programming a week at the peak of his career.

He also adapted The Gong Show into a movie with the help of Robert Downey Sr., but it was a failure. He claimed to have been a Central Intelligence Agency assassin on the side, as chronicled in his autobiography, 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind'. The book (and the 2002 film based on it, directed by George Clooney) were widely dismissed by disbelievers. Della was Barris' only child, from his marriage to Lyn Levy, a niece of William Paley. Barris was married three times and is survived by his wife Mary Kane. She died of a drug overdose in 1998.

"He changed the definition of comedy in a way, and it wasn't written comedy", Brunton said.

  • Salvatore Jensen