Many who enter the entertainment world are lucky to come away with a single project that people love so much that it becomes a timeless piece of the zeitgeist. Game show icon Chuck Barris didn't have such worries during the height of his career in the 1960s and 1970s, when you'd have to make an actual attempt to avoid seeing one of his shows on the air. Unfortunately, the producer, host and songwriter has passed away at the age of 87.
Having faced down major health problems in the past - he survived lung cancer in the 1990s - Chuck Barris succumbed to natural causes on Tuesday afternoon. According to Barris' publicist Paul Shefrin, whom the AP reports was speaking on behalf of the family, said it happened at the entertainer's home in Palisades, New York.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1929, Chuck Barris entered the entertainment world as a page at NBC and then moved on to behind-the-scenes work on American Bandstand, a gig that led him into the music industry. Beyond compositions put together for his later shows, Barris' biggest footprint in that field was writing Freddy Cannon's 1962 hit "Palisades Park." It was in 1965 that he founded Chuck Barry Productions, and the rest is loud and silly history.
The first game show that Chuck Barris brought to the masses was The Dating Game, which saw single folks trying to make romantic connections through wall partitions and 1960s lewdness. The show was a huge success, went on to air for years in its first run and was later the subject of several revivals and returns throughout the decades since. The very next year, Barris unleashed arguably his most successful effort, The Newlywed Game, which got even goofier with the romance-tinged questions and answers. Similar to its predecessor, Newlywed Game has been the subject of multiple reimaginings over the years, though all stick to the same basic concept. Both also inspired countless imitators, some less successful than others.
It wasn't until the 1970s that Chuck Barris actually got in front of the camera on a regular basis to show off even more of his manic comedic talents as the host the parodical talent competition The Gong Show, yet another program that lasted a long time and fed into later revivals. There's no denying that Barris made a lot of non-fans with his schtick, earning him nicknames such as "The King of Schlock," but there's also no denying his popularity. Check out these clips to see him in action.
Chuck Barris was behind many other game shows as well, such as Three's a Crowd, The Family Game, The $1.98 Beauty Show, How's Your Mother-in-Law?, Treasure Hunt and more. (Mileage varies with each.) He also famously penned the questionable autobiography-turned-film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, in which he claimed to have been a spy assassin for the CIA in the 1960s. The CIA discredited his stories, but they persist. Barris also wrote Della: A Memoir of My Daughter in 2010, which chronicled the life and 1998 death of his only child.
We at CinemaBlend send our thoughts and condolences to the family and friends of Chuck Barris in their time of mourning. Will we soon see any of his big shows becoming part of all the classics coming back to the primetime game show circuit?