Published: Thu, March 30, 2017
Culture | By Julio Duncan

Chuck Barris, Creator of 'The Gong Show' Dead At 87

Chuck Barris, Creator of 'The Gong Show' Dead At 87

A hostile backlash followed, with "Three's a Crowd" being pulled from the air after just a few months and the rest of Barris' creations also suffering in its wake. On the former show, a single woman would ask three unseen suitors questions to discern which one she'd like to date; on the latter, newly married couples would try to answer personal questions about their significant other to often hilarious results. At the end of the show, she chose her date based exclusively on their answers.

But let's face it. Newlyweds ... bachelors and bachelorettes ... none of them could hold a candle to Chuck Barris' crowning achievement... It was considered crass, demeaning and sexually suggestive - which it was, by design. The reverse talent show because a huge hit in the U.S. 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. Contestants were told that it was an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who was there to arrest anyone who cursed or said anything salacious.

Hosted by Jim Lange, the show's premise was simple.

Chuck Barris would do anything for "The Gong Show", and the audience loved him for it. "They had a leering quality to them and really stood out".

At one point, Barris was responsible to television networks for 27 hours of entertainment a week, mostly in five-days-a-week daytime game shows.

Barris' creative skills extended into music, too.

"The Newlywed Game", a show Barris created, was hosted by another former Flint native - Bob Eubanks.

Barris for the first decade of his showbiz career worked in a variety of jobs, including behind the scenes on Dick Clark's American Bandstand.

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. "We might have to take a little time with you". A little-known Andy Kaufman, who guested on the premiere of "SNL", lip-syncing to the "Mighty Mouse" theme, might as easily have appeared on "The Gong Show". And Barris gave people that. He eventually would put more than 15 shows on the air during the 1960s and '70s, starting by conceiving and producing "The Dating Game". It's not a big sociological thing.

Charles Hirsch Barris was born June 3, 1929, in Philadelphia, the son of a dentist. His father, a dentist, died when his son was young. He graduated from the Drexel Institute of Technology in 1953 before embarking on his odd, successful career.

Barris moved to NY and worked as a page at NBC, where he was accepted for its management-training program after using top industry executives as bogus references on his resume, he said in the interview. He wanted them to be fun programs for all to enjoy, but also never wanted those shows - especially "Gong Show" - to be his only legacy.

Barris sold his company for a reported $100 million. He had already written You and Me, Babe in 1974 about a failing marriage, similar to his own.

In his book, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind", Barris claimed to have been an assassin for the Central Intelligence Agency and his implausible story became a 2002 movie directed by first-timer George Clooney and written by Charlie Kaufman.

In it, he claimed to be an assassin for the Central Intelligence Agency.

He is survived by his wife, Mary. She died of a drug overdose in 1998. Chuck wrote the book Della: A Memoir of My Daughter, in 2010.

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