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‘Gong Show’ Creator Chuck Barris Has Died

Chuck Barris, who created the Gong Show, died at his home in Palisades, New York. He was 87. 

Barris was also a songwriter, writing the 1960s pop song “Palisades Park”, a network executive and author. His 1974 novel You and Me, Babe centered on a troubled television producer. He also authored Confessions of a Dangerous Mind in 1984, an enigmatic autobiography in which he claimed that he was an assassin for the C.I.A. while traveling as a television producer in the 1960s. 

Barris was born in Philadelphia on June 3, 1929. After graduating from Drexel University in 1953, Barris was accepted into a management training program at NBC in 1955. During the payola scandals of the times, the New York Times said Barris was tasked with keeping a young ABC star, Dick Clark of American Bandstand, out of trouble. 

By 1959 he was ABC’s director of West Coast daytime programming.

Eager to make his own shows, Barris went off on his own and created The Dating Game in 1965 and The Newlywed Game a year later. Both had strong runs on television. 

After a string of less successful game shows, Barris came up with The Gong Show, which premiered on NBC in 1976. Barris was the host as well. The show spent two years on NBC before moving to syndication. 

Barris slowly withdrew from the television world, selling his properties and focusing on his writing. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind was released as a film, with George Clooney directing and Sam Rockwell playing Barris. C.I.A. spokesmen said Barris had had nothing to do with the agency, said the New York Times.

Barris continued to write, including the 2007 comic novel The Big Question, about a game show where the stakes are literally life or death, and murder mystery Who Killed Art Deco? in 2009. 

In 2010 he wrote Della: A Memoir of My Daughter, about a daughter who died of a drug overdose at 36. Della was Barris’ only child, from his marriage to Lyn Levy, a niece of William Paley.