Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Final gong

Chuck Barris, the madcap producer who gave us Dating Game, Newlywed Game and Gong Show, has died at age 87.

Chuckie baby had long since faded from public view, really since the demise of Gong Show in 1980. He wrote some books and invented a ridiculous story about spy exploits, but otherwise he pretty much dropped out of sight. The movie Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, about his fictional CIA career, brought a small wave of attention in 2003, but it was a minor bit of fame at best.

His shows have lived on, though. Newlywed Game went through many permutations, and reruns of Sherri Shepherd's version still turn up on GSN in the wee hours. ABC has reportedly ordered a revival of Gong Show, and Dating Game has spawned so many variants - game shows and reality shows - that it would be silly to try to count them all.

Barris gloried in his tastelessness, so there's no reason to rehash all the arguments about how he lowered whatever standards TV might have. He was the unabashed King of Schlock and loved every minute, though he would sometimes get defensive about his less than shining reputation. His personal life was stained by tragedy when his only child died of a drug overdose. He once said, only half-jokingly, that his tombstone would read "Gonged at last." R.I.P.


  1. I hope GSN can do a "Gong Show" marathon or at least several of his classic shows for one day.

  2. They did pull out a bunch of Dating Game episodes in March 2014 when Jim Lange croaked. Then they didn't mention Geoff Edwards dying a week after Lange. We'll see. The 70s Newlywed Game which was a staple of GSN for its first 15 years really hasn't been seen since the Carnie Wilson/Sherri Shepherd version debuted several years ago.

  3. I believe only three 1960s game show packagers are still alive at this point: MOnty Hall, Merrill Heatter, and Ron Greenberg. Greenberg's first show with his own production company was Who What or WHere Game which debuted on 12/29/1969, so it just barely aired in the 60s.