Chuck Barris Dead: 'Gong Show' Host Dies at 87

Chuck Barris

Chuck Barris

Pretty much anything and if they weren't "gonged" by the three celebrity judges, they had a chance to win very specific prizes of $516.32 and $712.05.

After TV, Barris became an author and wrote such books as Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. A satirical talent show in which the acts were mostly awful, its comic sensibility seems years ahead of its time. "The show was so popular it gave rise to a feature film, 典he Gong Show Movie", which failed to catch on the way the TV show had. Barris, though, argued that his antics were tame compared to what The Gong Show inspired: "I took an huge amount of heat, so out of line compared to what they do today", he told Philly Mag in 2003. In these series, Barris planted the seeds of reality television - what is "The Bachelor", after all, but a blown-out version of "The Dating Game"? The Gong Show was dropped from NBC's daytime schedule in 1978-at least in part because of too-racy-for-TV acts like the two women whose entire routine was fellating popsicles-but lived on in syndication for two more years. The winning couple received a free trip overseas.

Barris made game-show history with "The Dating Game", beginning in 1966 and hosted by Jim Lange. She'd then select one of the trio for a date; only then would the prospective couple get to see what each other looked like. (And remember, this is before cable.) But it was The Gong Show, which he launched in 1976 and wound up hosting, that made his name known to many Americans.

Game show impresario Chuck Barris has died at 87.

In 1984, Barris published his autobiography Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, in which he says he once worked as a CIA assassin - a claim the agency has denied.

Charles Hirsch Barris was born June 3, 1929, in Philadelphia. He graduated from Drexel University in 1953 and started working at NBC in 1955.

"My ambition came from my great fear of ever ending up in that clothing business", he said.

Barris also wrote the song "Palisades Park", which became a Top 10 hit for singer Freddy Cannon in 1962.

Indeed, it did work: "The Newlywed Game" became one of the longest-running game shows in TV history, with an original run of eight and one-half years, followed quickly by a syndicated run and a number of revivals in the decades that followed. He founded Chuck Barris Productions in 1965. "These people don't take participating on a game show as seriously as you think they do, Mike".

Barris sold his company for a reported $100 million.

Barris was married thrice. His first wife, Lyn Levy, was the niece of CBS founder William Paley. Later on Chuck remarried with Robin Altman from 1980-1999. Barris is survived by his wife, Mary Clagett. Their daughter, Della, tragically died of a drug overdose in 1998.

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