Before he died of natural causes earlier this week, Chuck Barris expressed the fear “The Gong Show” would be his legacy. After all, he created and hosted it, and although he could not have known it at the time, the show is poised to make a comeback.
Philadelphia-born Charles Hirsch “Chuck” Barris, who also created “The Dating Game,” died Monday night at home in Palisades, New York. He was 87. “The Dating Game,” which Barris launched in 1965, was an instant hit. He next introduced “The Newlywed Game,” “The Game Game” and a Mama Cass special.
“Those were the happiest days of my life,” Barris told the Los Angeles Times in a 2002 interview. “It was Camelot.”
What became one of his most successful programs, “The Gong Show,” debuted in 1976. 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.
Many Barris shows were ravaged by critics as demeaning to contestants, according to The Times.
“I took the criticism so hard,” said Barris, who wanted his programs to be fun but, according to The Times, also never wanted those shows to be his only legacy, especially “Gong Show.”
“I’ve created hit TV shows, but nothing has been great,” he told The Times. “I’ve written rock songs, but I’m not a big music star. I’ve penned a bestselling book, but I’m not Hemingway or Fitzgerald. I’ve never saved any lives. It’s just middle-of-the-road greatness. So I know what my legacy will be. It’s ‘The Gong Show’ and that’s a shame. It’s not the legacy I want to have. It gave the impression of me being a clown, a court jester. None of that’s true.”
ABC plans to revive “The Gong Show” with actor Will Arnett, having ordered 10 episodes.
In the 1980s after a period living in France, he formed Barris Industries and revived “The Dating Game” and “The Newlywed Game” before selling his shares in the company to Burt Sugarman, according to Variety. Barris Industries acquired Guber-Peters Productions, which was then acquired by Sony Corporation.
Barris is survived by his wife of 16 years, the former Mary Clagett.
—City News Service