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Chuck Barris Dead: ‘Gong Show’ Host Dies at 87

Chuck Barris, host of The Gong Show and creator of The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game, died at age 87 on Tuesday, March 21.

Chuck Barris
Host Chuck Barris on ‘The Gong Show’ in 1976. Ron Tom/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The TV personality died of natural causes at his home in Palisades, New York, his publicist Paul Shefrin told CNN.

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Barris became hugely successful when he created The Dating Game in 1965. A young male or female contestant would question three bachelor or bachelorettes hidden from view to decide which would be the best date. Through the years, several celebrities appeared as contestants on the show, including Farrah Fawcett, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Jackson. The producer created multiple spinoffs, including The Newlywed Game, which ran for 19 years on ABC.

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Barris stayed behind the scenes until 1976, when he produced and hosted The Gong Show. Barris would introduce an amateur performer to three celebrity judges, who could strike a gong at any moment to stop the performance.

Chuck Barris
Chuck Barris during his book signing “The Big Question” at Book Soup in Los Angeles in 2007. Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

In 2003, Barris reflected on the cult status of The Gong Show. “I. Was. So. Obnoxious,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “I wouldn’t be surprised if an obituary says, ‘Gonged. He’s Gonged. He’s finally Gonged.’ But that’s not me. It’s not me.”

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Besides his game show career, he wrote Freddy Cannon’s hit pop song “Palisades Park” and penned six best-selling novels. His book Confessions of a Dangerous Mind claimed that he was working as an assassin for the CIA during his television career. (The agency denied it.) It was later turned into a 2002 movie directed by George Clooney and starring Sam Rockwell as Barris alongside Julia Roberts and Drew Barrymore.

Barris was previously married to Lyn Levy from 1957 to 1976. They shared a daughter, Della, who died of a drug overdose in 1998. He was married to Robin Altman from 1980 to 1999, and he is survived by his third wife, Mary

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