Chuck BarrisGame Show Host
Born: 3 June 1929
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Best known as: Host of TV's The Gong Show
Chuck Barris co-created and hosted the 1976-80 game show hit The Gong Show. The program was a goofy contest of bad talent, with hapless contestants being "gonged" off the stage by a celebrity panel of judges. Barris also dreamed up two earlier hits, The Dating Game (1965-73) and The Newlywed Game (1966-74), which now are considered the forerunners of 21st-century "reality" romance shows like The Bachelor. Barris wrote a 1984 book titled Confessions of a Dangerous Mind in which he claimed that while hosting The Gong Show he had been an undercover agent for the CIA. Many were skeptical of his claims, and Barris has generally refused to elaborate on them in public. In 2002 George Clooney directed a film version of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, with Sam Rockwell as Barris and co-starring Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts.
Extra credit: Barris also directed and starred in the 1980 film The Gong Show Movie... He wrote a second autobiography in 1993: The Game Show King: A Confession... Barris wrote the pop tune Palisades Park, a hit for Freddy 'Boom Boom' Cannon in 1962, and wrote the theme songs to many of his game shows... After their initial network runs, both The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game were revived in later syndicated versions... Among contestants on The Gong Show was Paul Reubens, later known as TV star Pee-wee Herman.
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