RIP Chuck Barris: 12 Things to Remember About the 'Gong Show' Host
- Author: Salvatore Jensen Mar 30, 2017,
Mar 30, 2017, 8:57
It breaks our hearts to report that the legendary game show host died inside his Palisades, New York home at the age of 87, his publicist confirmed on March 22, 2017.
While his shows became fixtures of American pop culture, Barris himself became a star in the 1970s with the launch of The Gong Show, a talent show he hosted with his own inscrutable, wacky style.
At one point, Barris, who was born in Philadelphia, was supplying the television networks with 27 hours of entertainment a week, mostly in five-days-a-week daytime game shows, the AP said. "And the critics blame me for cracking culture?" His books include both Game Show King, and his "unofficial autobiography", Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, in which he claimed that his TV producing work was cover for his real job as an worldwide assassin for the Central Intelligence Agency. "Chuck Barris has never been employed by the Central Intelligence Agency and the allegation that he was a hired assassin is absurd".
His Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind was turned into a Hollywood movie directed by George Clooney and starring Sam Rockwell.
Born Charles Hirsch Barris in Philadelphia, he started out working as a page at NBC in NY, then worked backstage at "American Bandstand".
After The Dating Game took off, Barris kept pumping out more hit game shows, including The Newlywed Game, The Parent Game and even The Game Game. A satirical talent show in which the acts were mostly bad, its comic sensibility seems years ahead of its time. The highlight of every episode was when the couples were asked about "making whoopee" - the euphemism the show used for sex to mollify censors. But while Fleiss's Bachelor surely owes a stylistic debt to Real World, Barris's Dating Game is where his ABC franchise got its soul.
It was ostensibly a talent show, but Barris was careful to often invite guests who lacked any discernible talents.
If a judge did not like a certain act, he or she could ring a giant gong and the contestant on stage would be given the boot. Contestants who passed the test could win $516.32, which was the union payscale minimum. I thought it would be a cathartic thing, getting all of it down on paper. A few shows in different genres filled out his TV résumé. And so long as he did that ... as long as he was willing to bring together insane talents like the Unknown Comic or Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, or to ask a newlywed about what her husband would like to dip his cruller in and waiting for the ribald responses ... then everything was just fine. In another incident, judge Jaye P. Morgan flashed the audience. He was married to Robin Altman from 1980 to 1999, and he is survived by his third wife, Mary. Barris would continue writing through his later years, including novels The Big Question, Who Killed Art Deco? and the subject of his only daughter's 1998 overdose, Della: A Memoir of My Daughter.