Chuck Barris Dies; Legendary Game Show Host Was 87

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Chuck Barris, the host and creator of The Gong Show, died Tuesday of natural causes at his home in Palisades, New York.

He was 87 years old.

Chuck Barris

The sad news has been confirmed by Barris' publicist, Paul Shefrin.

Barris made game show history in 1966 when he came up with the idea for The Dating Game, a classic more than a half century later.

That program was hosted by Jim Lange and which is still mentioned or parodied today on shows such as Saturday Night Live.

The gimmick behind this show was simple: A young female (or male) contestant questioned three suitors of the opposite gender.

Each of the potential matches was hidden from her view, in order to determine which would be the most ideal date.

In nearly every case, the questions were designed by the show's writers to elicit sexy/seductive/revealing answers.

It's brilliant now, but imagine five decades ago.

Chuck Barris in 2006

Such stars (or future stars) who appeared as guests included:

  • Michael Jackson
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Steve Martin
  • Farrah Fawcett, who was introduced as "an accomplished artist and sculptress" because she appeared prior to her big acting break in Charlie's Angels.

The game show quickly became a sensation on daytime and primetime television, leading to the creation of so many variants.

The Newlywed Game, The Parent Game, The Family Game and even The Game Game were all spawned by his creation.

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.

To this day, Game Show Network still airs episodes of The Newlywed Game, which aired for 19 years during its original run.

Chuck Barris Picture

Between 1976 and 1980, Barris hosted The Gong Show.

That talent competition featured various acts (think America's Got Talent) on stage and a panel of judges rating their efforts.

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.

In 1984, the native of Philadelphia wrote an autobiography titled "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind: An Unauthorized Biography."

It chronicled his alleged double life as a CIA assassin.

Moreover, it was made into a 2002 movie that starred Sam Rockwell and which marked the directorial debut of George Clooney.

Many believes that Barris made this claim up, however.

"It sounds like he has been standing too close to the gong all those years," said CIA spokesman Tom Crispell, adding:

"Chuck Barris has never been employed by the CIA and the allegation that he was a hired assassin is absurd."

Criticized by some throughout his professional run as "The Baron of Bad Taste," Barris did well for himself in the end: he sold his company for $100 million in 1980.

On the personal front, Barris's first marriage, to Lynn Levy, ended in divorce. Their daughter, Della, tragically died of a drug overdose in 1998.

He married his third wife, Mary, in 2000.

We send our condolences to the family members and loved ones of Chuck Barris, along with all the other celebrities who have passed away in 2017.

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