Chuck Barris, creator of shows like “The Newlywed Game” and popular host of “The Gong Show,” has died. As the 2002 biographical film “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” was set to debut, The Times’ Roy Rivenburg sat down with Barris to talk.
(Roy Rivenburg)Charles Hirsch Barris was born June 3, 1929, in Philadelphia, the son of a dentist.
"I came back and said, ' Let's change the show, have all bad acts and one or two good ones, and people can make a judgment,' " he said in a 2010 interview with The Archive of American Television.
When original host John Barbour didn't work out after about a year, NBC execs insisted that the cuddly, curly-haired Barris come on as his replacement, so he donned a tuxedo and a floppy hat and introduced the acts.
Celebrities and future celebrities who appeared as contestants included Michael Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Martin and a pre-"Charlie's Angels" Farrah Fawcett, introduced as "an accomplished artist and sculptress" with a dream to open her own gallery.
After the show became a hit on both daytime and nighttime TV, the Barris machine accelerated.
It was there that he began building his game-show empire.Patterned after the Major Bowes Amateur Hour show that was a radio hit in the 1930s, the program featured performers who had peculiar talents and, often, no talent at all.Barris died of natural causes at his home in Palisades, New York, his longtime publicist told The Associated Press.Barris made game show history right off the bat, in 1966, with "The Dating Game," hosted by Jim Lange.The gimmick: a young female questions three males, hidden from her view, to determine which would be the best date.Instead of receiving three strikes and being torn to shreds by Simon Cowell, Barris would beat a gong and the condemned performer would be mocked by B-list celebs.