The Gong Show Creator Passes Away

Chuck Barris, who tapped into Americans' hunger to be on television by creating game shows such as "The Dating Game", "The Newlywed Game" and his showcase for the acutely untalented, "The Gong Show", died Tuesday.

After a string of less successful game shows, Barris came up with The Gong Show, which premiered on NBC in 1976. Risque answers were often encouraged, especially by the questions about "making whoopee", the show's frequently used euphemism.

"Celebrities and future celebrities who appeared as contestants included Michael Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Martin and a pre-Charlie's Angels" Farrah Fawcett, introduced as "an accomplished artist and sculptress" with a dream to open her own gallery.

Chuck Barris said in 2003 that he reached a point of being "pitiful" while hosting the show and wouldn't be surprised if his obituaries read "Gonged".

He explained: 'I came back (from scouting contestants) and said, 'Let's change the show, have all bad acts and one or two good ones, and people can make a judgment, " he said in a 2010 interview with The Archive of American Television. The reverse talent show because a huge hit in the U.S.

Jaye P. Morgan with fellow judges/panelists Arte Johnson and Jamie Farr on an episode of "The Gong Show". The victims would then be mercilessly berated by the often manic Barris. The latter show, which was seen as deeply problematic, was denounced by major groups including United Auto Workers and the National Organization for Women. One example was the late country musician BoxCar Willie, who was a 1977 Gong Show victor.

The Washington Post notes that his efforts earned him an array of unflattering nicknames: "The King of Schlock", "The Baron of Bad Taste" and "The Ayatollah of Trasherola". 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. The book was made into a movie directed by George Clooney.

A Central Intelligence Agency spokesman flatly denied the claim.

Many believes that Barris made this claim up, however. He married his second wife, Robin Altman, in 1980 and they were together till 1999.

Inevitably, The Gong Show's penchant for the risque eventually killed its run in the world of mid-afternoon TV.

Charles Hirsch Barris was born June 3, 1929, in Philadelphia. He graduated from Drexel University in 1953 and started working at NBC in 1955. He was also a songwriter, penning "Palisades Park", which was turned into an up-tempo hit in 1962 by Freddie Cannon.

While critics slammed his off-the-wall style, Chuck Barris was the godfather of TV talent competition hosts, even if he never wanted to take credit.

  • Salvatore Jensen