Gong Show Creator Chuck Barris Dies At Age 87

Variety reports:

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.

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.

Gene Gene The Dancing Machine died of complications from diabetes in 2015 at the age of 82. Barris also wrote the 1962 hit single, Palisades Park.

  • DaddyRay

    The Gong Show had more class and integrity than the Trump Administration

    • olandp

      What doesn’t?

    • Michael R

      The difference : It was actually self aware

      • Beagle

        And it never had its hands on the nuclear codes.

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      • teeveedub

        And they actually got rid of people who were incompetent.

    • William

      The Gong Show had a hook, something we need today.

    • Acronym Jim

      For that matter, it had more class and integrity than the Jerry Springer Show, which ALSO has more class and integrity than the Trump administration.

    • SilasMarner

      ANYTHING, has more class than the Trump Admin.

  • olandp

    “I just moved into an apartment over a bank. Now my assets over $10million.”-The Unknown Comic.

    • Acronym Jim

      That line also works as a mocking of the scambots.

  • Gustav2


    Husband: Chuck Berry died.
    Me: (my first thought was about the Gong Show) Wait… who?

    • BillyDee4

      Did you ever see both of them at the same time in the same place?

  • Nic Peterson

    Chuck Barris developed the culture that gave us Hair Furor. RIP

  • Pollos Hermanos

    Jaye P. Morgan is beside herself.

  • Michael R
  • kcken

    I was pretty young when this show was on TV, but I still had a crush on Chuck. Maybe it was the bell-bottoms, maybe the afro… Ah well, RIP Chuck!

    • romanhans

      Me too, but I thought it was the confidence, the sense of humor, and the chest hair.

      • Dagoril

        Definitely the chest hair. Woof!

  • Michael R

    OK , what can we get past the censors ?


    • jmax

      I remember JP Morgan giving them a 10 because she said she got her start in show biz that way.

    • Strepsi

      Ha, I came here to post that!
      RIP Chuck — Plus, we still need GENE GENE the DANCING MACHINE in the world!

    • Vista-Cruiser

      Ah yes, those Farrah Fawcett haircuts…

    • Acronym Jim

      Jaye P. Morgan flashed her boobs toward the end of one show. Apparently, it made it on the air, but she was never invited back.

  • CanuckDon

    The Gong Show and Match Game both helped fuel a healthy raunch into my horny teenage years. RIP

  • ChrisInKansas

    Never knew he wrote Palisades Park. Interesting! Now I’ll have to see if he wrote any other Top 40 hits.

    • CanuckDon

      I’m amazed at how much of the lyrics I know. Having three older sisters helped with that!

  • Texndoc

    It was also used in storylines in other shows. “Eunice” and “Fred Sanford” having tried their hands at winning.
    I thought he had died a while back. It was accepted as fact he and Jaye P were pretty much coked up at least a majority of the time wasn’t it.


    • The Sentinel

      Most devastating moment of my television childhood.

  • Pollos Hermanos

    He also gave us “The 1.98 Beauty Show” for which I am eternally grateful.

  • ChrisInKansas

    And how is it that Jamie Farr, Jaye P. Morgan AND Arte Johnson are all still alive? Wow.

    • I remember wishing JP Morgan could be one of my school teachers cuz she seemed like one of the coolest ladies ever.

      My elementary school dream schedule:
      Morning classes with Jaye P. Morgan
      Recess led by Lynda Carter (She can do all that Wonder Woman stuff in real life, can’t she?)
      Afternoon classes with Lee Majors

  • All I can say is the 70s were a great decade and I didn’t even realize it at the time.

  • Paul_in_Dallas
  • Natty Enquirer

    I loved this show as a teenager! Chuck was one sexy little dude. But looking back, wow. There was quite a snowfall in Hollywood back in the 70s.

  • Adam King

    “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” was a good movie. What a story.

  • Pete

    This guy always knew Americas lowest common denominator her at any given TV season.

  • Long Tom

    RIP, Mr. Barris.

    And thanks for all the good stuff.

  • Vista-Cruiser

    I get this guy confused with another icon of the seventies – the man who made kromy kustom kars.

  • dhinaustin

    Loved this show as a kid. Big thanks to anyone that can find the video of Cheryl Lynn singing “You Are So Beautiful” on the Gong Show. I remember being terribly disappointed that she lost to some juggling act.

    • CanuckDon

      According to the writeup in Billboard, the video of that moment isn’t available but I’m wondering if this is the juggling act she ended up losing to. Rex Reed was one of the judges for Cheryl’s performance (according to a People article). This juggler is quite remarkable as well….


  • Charlie In SF

    What about the “Unknown Comic”?

  • bcarter3

    Chuck Berry, and now Chuck Barris.

    If I were Chuck Norris, I’d be looking over my shoulder. Somebody’s collecting Chucks.

  • TheManicMechanic

    I used to watch the Gong Show all the time. It’s a wonder they were able to make a cohesive show what with the front end loader-full of cocaine backstage. It was so much fun. RIP Chuck, say hi to Gene for me.

  • Lazycrockett

    Hell 87 is a good run for a coke head.

  • easygoingmister

    Bye bye, Chuck. You little hottie you.

  • boobert

    I loved when Gene Gene was on ! They all went nuts.

  • seant426

    Hee, hee. Jaye released some pop-oriented albums back in the day including this one that had this song which was written by David Foster of all people. (I always picked up on a closet vibe from Foster.) Dusty also covered it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpj-RdTfRB4

  • fuzzybits

    We always jumped up and danced with Gene Gene.