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Chuck Barris Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (91) | Personal Quotes (16)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 3 June 1929Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Date of Death 21 March 2017Palisades, New York, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameCharles Hirsch Barris

Mini Bio (1)

Chuck Barris was born on June 3, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA as Charles Hirsch Barris. He was a producer, known for The Gong Show (1976), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002) and X: First Class (2011). He was married to Mary Clagett Kane, Robin Altman and Lynne Frances Levy. He died on March 21, 2017 in Palisades, New York, USA.

Spouse (3)

Mary Clagett Kane (2000 - 21 March 2017) (his death)
Robin Altman (28 November 1980 - 1999) (divorced)
Lynne Frances Levy (21 November 1957 - 1972) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (4)

Game shows that involved personal relationships or to make fun of contestants.
Curly, grayish hair.
His accentuated hand-clapping between sentences.
His jokingly, nervous personality.

Trivia (91)

Nephew of singer/songwriter/actor Harry Barris.
As a songwriter, he co-composed the song "Palisades Park", a number three hit in the US for singer Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon in 1962.
Claimed to have been a CIA operative.
Survived lung cancer.
Introduced first-run syndication on television when he bought back an unsuccessful show he created and resold it.
Before he was a successful game show producer and host, he began his television career as an NBC page in New York.
Had a film made about his life, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), by George Clooney in his directorial debut with Sam Rockwell playing the man.
Was the best-selling author of 6 books: "Bad Grass Never Dies: More Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind: An Unauthorized Autobiography," "Della: A Memoir of My Daughter," "The Game Show: A Confession," "Who Killed Art Deco?" and "The Big Question: A Novel".
He resided in St. Tropez, France, from 1980 to 1990.
GSN honored him as the 'Most Zaniest Host,' in 2007.
The first game show he created was 'Poker People.'.
His sister, Rita Frances Barris, is an aspiring writer.
Met television personality, Dick Clark in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1957. The two men would be friends for 55 years, until Clark's death on Wednesday, April 18, 2012.
Before Barris would celebrate his 85th Birthday in 2014, both of his longtime friends Jim Lange and Geoff Edwards, died within a week of each other. The most coincidental thing is they both worked at his production company.
His parents were Dr. Nathaniel Barris, a dentist, and Edith (Cohen) Barris, a housewife. Three of his grandparents were Russian Jewish immigrants, while his maternal grandmother was born in Pennsylvania, to Romanian Jewish parents.
Graduated from Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia's suburb of Ardmore, Pennsylvania, in 1947.
Met his first wife Lyn Levy, whose uncle William Paley was the manager at CBS, in New York City. Her family was on the board of the network, they refused to accept Barris, who couldn't get into any of the major sales representations.
At age 23, Barris moved to New York City, New York, in 1952, to continue pursuing his career as a producer.
Before he was a successful producer and game show host, he used to work backstage on New American Bandstand 1965 (1952), which was hosted by Dick Clark, at the time, the show was filmed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which of course is Barris's hometown.
Mentor and friend of Murray Langston.
Before he was a successful game show producer and host, he used to work at the U.S. Steel in the foundry, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Best known by the public as the host of The Gong Show (1976).
At age 34, Barris moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1963, to continue pursuing his career as a game show producer.
Before he was a successful game show host and producer, he used to work as a football film editor, at Tel-Ra Productions, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Went to high school with James Billington.
Attended Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was on the student newspaper. He began his writing there.
Like fellow game show host Wink Martindale, Barris was also an avid game show watcher, who would later host The Gong Show (1976).
When Barris hosted The Gong Show (1976), he was ill at ease before the camera; he had a nervous habit of clapping his hands together and pointing to the camera while talking. He did this so often that, by the show's second year, it had become a running gag. Audience members began clapping their hands in unison with Barris whenever they saw him doing it. Barris caught on, and would sometimes pretend to clap, deliberately stopping short to fool the audience.
Barris was not the first choice to host The Gong Show (1976), for NBC. The original host of the show John Barbour, who didn't understand the show's concept and considered it a straight talent show as opposed to Barris's parody concept. He removed Barbour at the very last minute, in order to save the show, Barris followed the advice of an NBC executive that he should host the show himself. He also hosted the syndicated version, too.
Executive Producer of Barris Industries, Inc. from 1981 to 1989.
His company, Barris Industries, filed a $5 million copyright lawsuit against Lorimar-Telepictures (which was before Warner Bros. Television), indicating that the game show Perfect Match (1986) was similar to The New Newlywed Game (1984). [1986].
One of its most infamous incidents on The Gong Show (1976) came on the NBC version, when he presented an onstage act consisting of two young women slowly and suggestively sucking Popsicles.
Before Al Michaels became a successful television sportscaster for ABC, in his young career, Michael worked alongside Barris, as his production assistant on The Dating Game (1965), where he met his wife, Linda.
Was a heavy smoker.
He was known to be a very private man.
Was a Republican.
His only child Della Barris was an alcoholic and a drug addict. In fact, it was him who put his daughter in the psychiatric ward, after the rest of his staff did everything they could to protect her and reconciled with him before her death of a suspected overdose.
Had relocated from St. Tropez, France to New York City, New York, from 1990 to 2001.
Executive Producer of Chuck Barris Productions from 1965 to 1981.
Met fellow game show hosts Jim Lange and Bob Eubanks, while working in the Chuck Barris Studios, in Los Angeles, California, before becoming a game show host in 1965. A few years later, Barris also met 2 other hosts in the same studio, Bob Barker and Wink Martindale.
After producing the revival of The Gong Show (1988), Barris retired from producing (as well as hosting) in 1989, at age 60.
Though he was born in Philadelphia, he was raised in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, which is a middle-class suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Met fellow game show host Geoff Edwards on a pilot that didn't sell.
His popularity on The Gong Show (1976) led him to revive both of his earlier shows: The Dating Game (1965) and The Newlywed Game (1966).
At Ardmore's Lower Merion High School, he played basketball for his team.
Hobbies: playing the trumpet & guitar, listening to music, boating, dining, dancing, traveling, and writing.
Relocated from New York City, New York to Bowling Green, Kentucky in 2001.
Barris Industries was renamed as the Guber-Peters Entertainment Company, Barris Program Sales was renamed to Guber-Peters Program Sales, and Barris Advertising Sales was renamed Guber-Peters Advertising Sales. A day after Sony Corporation of Japan acquired Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Sony acquired Guber-Peters Entertainment Company for $200 million. The sale was completed on November 9, 1989 after Sony's acquisition of Columbia Pictures Entertainment a day earlier. [1989].
Had decided to cease production of The Gong Show (1976), at the end of the fourth season, to pursue other interests. Gong wasn't the only game show that got canceled in 1980, three of Barris's created game shows went off the air that same year: 3's a Crowd (1979), The Dating Game (1965) and The Newlywed Game (1966).
Composer Milton Delugg was associated with his production company.
The only successful musical variety show he ever produced was The Bobby Vinton Show (1975).
Before he was a successful game show producer and host, he used to work at his grandfather's clothing store, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Created his last game show 3's a Crowd (1979), which was a spin-off from The Newlywed Game (1966). The difference was that as opposed to recently married couples, a married man joined forces with his wife and his secretary to see who knew him better.
Once owned a house in Malibu, California.
His third wife (and widow), Mary Rudolph Barris, is from Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Was a best-selling author.
His mother, Edith (Cohen) Barris, married his father, Dr. Nathaniel Barris, after the Wall Street Crash of 1929, after Chuck was born.
Depression ran in his family.
Before Jim Lange, Wink Martindale and Geoff Edwards would all work for Barry-Enright Productions (which is now Sony Pictures Television), they all worked for him, as well as announcer Johnny Jacobs.
Before Paul Reubens and John Paragon co-starred together, in the popular children comedy, Pee-wee's Playhouse (1986), they both appeared on Barris's The Gong Show (1976) as Suave & Debonair.
Had attended various colleges: St. Joseph, followed by University of Miami for 1 semester.
Before Johnny Jacobs was his sidekick announcer on The Gong Show (1976), he was the announcer on most of the game shows produced by Barris.
Unlike in the original The New Treasure Hunt (1973), Barris didn't have direct involvement with the production of the show itself.
The Gong Show (1976) wasn't the first TV show on which he appeared on camera. Rather, that occurred on a taping of The New Treasure Hunt (1973), throwing a pie in Geoff Edwards's face.
His daughter Della Barris made a cameo appearance on The New Treasure Hunt (1973), who was described as "the very own child." and appeared on The Gong Show (1976) with him..
In the four years that he hosted The Gong Show (1976), Barris got gonged once. In one of the acts, Barris played the role of lead vocalist/guitarist for "The Hollywood Cowboys," which he sang "Take This Job And Shove It!".
During his long career, he produced 12 game shows.
His favorite game show of all was The Dating Game (1965).
His uncle Harry Barris died just 11 days before his daughter Della Barris was born.
Songwriting ran in his family.
Composed the first song "Summertime Guy", which was sung by Eddie Rambeau. Originally, Rambeau was to debut the song on New American Bandstand 1965 (1952), in 1962, but mere minutes before Rambeau was to perform, he was told the song could not be sung, due to Barris then being an ABC employee, owing to concerns of payola, which had become a major music industry scandal at the time. Later, Barris contacted composer Milton Delugg to arrange an instrumental version of the song, which eventually wound up on the game show The Newlywed Game (1966), and would become its signature theme song (the main melody of the theme is preceded by Felix Mendelssohn's Wedding March).
Met future comedian Pat Harrington Jr. when he was also working as a young page at NBC in New York. Both Barris and Harrington had a lot in common from jazz music to playing the trombone.
Before Cheryl Lynn became a successful solo artist, she was one of his amateur performers on The Gong Show (1976), performing "You Are So Beautiful" and scored a 30. However, a previous act (a singing juggler) had also earned the same score; and in the audience applauded tie-breaker, the juggler was declared the winner.
Before a young comedian, Murray Langston would act in The Gong Show (1976), he used to appear on The Dating Game (1965), which was also created by Barris, as one of the bachelors, who was actually picked to date by actress Louisa Moritz.
Most of The Newlywed Game (1966)'s questions dealt with, "Making Whoopee," the euphemism that Barris and his producers used for sexual intercourse to circumvent network censorship. It was also the catchphrase of the show that Bob Eubanks continued to use the word throughout the show's many runs, even in the 1980s and 1990s episodes and beyond, when he could easily have said "make love" or "have sex" without censorship.
Comedian and his ex-The Gong Show (1976) amateur performer, Murray Langston also appeared on The $1.98 Beauty Show (1978), as "The Unknown Comic.".
Was the second game show host (after Bob Eubanks) to use the word "Whoopee," on The Gong Show (1976), in reference to Murray Langston's, "The Unknown Comic.".
He made another on-camera appearance at the end of the taping of The Dating Game (1965), where he took off Jim Lange's blazer, while he was dancing.
It was his idea for Jim Lange, to blow a kiss, to the audience, at the end of every The Dating Game (1965) episode, something Barris had thought of doing for Lange.
Was one of the few game show hosts and producers to have a very busy schedule, at one point for 27 half hours of network television a week.
He and his sister had inherited their writing characteristic from his parents, the only thing he inherited from his parents is his comedic personality.
When he hired San Francisco radio personality and announcer, Jim Lange as Barris's first choice to host The Dating Game (1965), Lange was sort of a goofball, who was also very thankful for the job, who (in turn) was hired immediately.
He tried to be a very popular student at Ardmore's Lower Merion High School.
In 1953, when Barris was 24, he took his 75-year-old grandmother on a camping trip to the Poconos, where they spent a wonderful day, but unfortunately when he woke up the next morning she was dead, so he zipped her body into a sleeping bag, tied it to the roof of his Volkswagen, and drove to a police station, but even more unfortunately while he was inside making a report someone stole the car.
One more attempt at reviving an old game show that was not his own originally resulted in an unsold pilot of the 1950s-era game Dollar a Second, hosted by Bob Eubanks.
Had absolutely no trouble with the standards, practices, along with the censors while producing the first-run of The Dating Game (1965).
On The Dating Game (1965) some of the music that he composed were the music that was actually his, the rest were hits, all over. Barris also used the mix of the hits and little things that he composed. His first wife, Lyn Levy, wrote all the music cues of the show, who also used a huge record library to put in the various music cues.
Barris was promoted to the daytime programming division at ABC in Los Angeles and was put in charge of deciding which game shows ABC would air. Barris told his bosses that the producer/packagers' pitches of game show concepts were worse than Barris' own ideas. They suggested that he quit his ABC programming job and become a producer.
His show The Gong Show (1976) debuted when the trial begins at Oxford Crown Court of Donald Neilson, the killer known as the Black Panther.

Personal Quotes (16)

If you stick in the business of being creative, you get hurt. And creative disappointment seems so much harder to take than any other kind. But if you're not prepared to get hurt like that, life can be pretty boring. I think I'm going to keep on going.
[Who talked about reality television with contestants who had underlying schemes]: Yeah. But, you know, every -- every contestant knows exactly what's -- what's in store for him or her when they go on these shows, and that's what they used to say about -- about my shows, when -- about the Gong Show. If a contestant comes on the Gong Show, they're opening themselves up to whatever. But -- so if a contestant goes on American Idol and it's one of the first few and that guy Simon rips them apart, the contestant knows that, and is sort of looking for that, don't you think?
[on a game show he preferred]: The Dating Game has a special place for me because it was my first. It was my baby. In my opinion, the best game-show format ever was The Newlywed Game, because it's so simple: It's just four couples, eight questions, and a refrigerator or washing machine. That's it. You're done, and it worked. The Gong Show, that was fun. That was, for me, the epitome. In between, I had a game show called Three's A Crowd, which was "Who knows a husband better? His wife or his secretary?" It was the most powerful game show I ever created. I mean, it was really a visceral experience. It was too embarrassing and devastating for the contestants, so I pulled that show off the air. I did another one called How's Your Mother-In-Law?, which wasn't good because, as I did with all my shows, I tried to do something that my audience could relate to. And I thought everyone could relate to a mother-in-law. If you didn't have one, you certainly knew about them. But the problem was that you were making fun of somebody's mother, so it didn't work. There were other things. There was a show called Family Game, which was about how well kids know their parents and how well parents know their kids. I hated working with kids, so I didn't like that show.
The whole world has changed. Shows now are terribly mean-spirited. You're rooting for people to be eliminated, rooting for judges to find new ways of being nasty. I wouldn't want to see electrocutions on TV. But I've no doubt some day we will.
[As to who influenced him on writing]: It used to be Hemingway and Fitzgerald. That's why I went to the south of France to write You And Me, Babe, the first book I wrote, and it was a bestseller, so that's part of the reason I finally quit television. The fun kind of ran out of television in the 1980s, and I dabbled around for a couple of years before finally selling the company so I could pretend I was Fitzgerald and Hemingway and go write on the Riviera. I was lucky enough to make enough money to live happily ever after, so I took off. You know, I probably should have never quit my day job. The books I wrote in Europe, I couldn't even get them published. I think I wrote two manuscripts, and neither one was published. Well, one was, but it wasn't that good.
The day that The Dating Game went on air, the headline in the Chicago Tribune was: Daytime Television Hits All-Time Low. I think I just became the guy they love to hate.
[on his recollection of the celebrity photographs]: They used to have a picture of me on the wall, before they had any other photos up. Half the people demanded they take it down. In the end, someone stole it.
[When he talked about working with Dick Clark, for the first time]: I spent my time writing these dumb, low reports, everyday, because I didn't know what else to do; and they piled up in cartons and eventually, they took those down to Washington. I worked with Dick, for about a year, and they took those reports down to Washington, and he was exonerated. I don't think they would even went to look at those things that I wrote. So, he was exonerated and that was the end of my career.
I always felt I had a midlife crisis right on coast-to-coast television.
I think my ambition came from my great fear of ever ending up in that clothing business.
I went to a bunch of schools; St. Joseph's for a week, the University of Miami in Florida for a semester. I really wasn't much of a student and all of my family went to Penn and I couldn't get in. I finally got into Drexel, which was great. At least I got myself a college education, which now, in retrospect, I didn't really need. I should have gone right to New York and become a page at NBC. The horrible thing is that I was destined to go into my grandfather's cloak and suit factory. He made men's clothes in this horrible factory down in Philadelphia and that's where all the men in the family went, but I just rebelled and did something else.
I was a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none, and I think I just went through life kind of being that. When I look at Bob Barker on "The Price is Right," I couldn't have been a Bob Barker if you put a gun to my head. I could never have done something that long. I probably made a mistake to sell my company when I did and get out of television because right after I did, in 1986, it just exploded with all this reality television. But I always wanted to write and I've written, so I've experienced the things that I wanted to experience.
[Of Dick Clark]: It was at the time of the payola scandals, where these station guys were taking money to play records. It was a big scandal, and a lot of station guys were fired. On the network, they had just gone through the quiz-show scandals, so after that, they didn't want another scandal. Dick Clark had American Bandstand, and that was a big show. One play on American Bandstand was worth 20,000 in sales, was the way they used to figure it in those days. So he was highly susceptible to having payola. At the same time, there was a guy, [legendary DJ Alan] Freed, who was on an ABC-affiliated station in New York. He had a big record program, and he billed $200,000 a year. Dick Clark was billing $2 million a year. Once again, in those days that was big, big money. ABC fired Freed. They gave him over to the lions, and they kept Clark. They were going to have to go down to the FCC and testify as to why Clark was not guilty of any misdemeanors. So they got called, and I was out of work at the time-I had just come down to see if they had anything available for a former NBC management-training-program guy-so they said "Yep, here," and gave me a suit, because I didn't have a suit and they wanted me to look like an executive. They brought me down to Philadelphia and introduced me to Dick Clark and said I had to watch him until he went to Washington, and they expected him to go to Washington any week, so I was there on a week-to-week basis. You figure it out. What was there to watch? I worked from 10 to 6. Then I'd get on the train, and I always thought, "Well, whatever he does, he could be doing it from 6 p.m. to when I get back to work." But I never suggested anything like that, because I needed the job. Actually, he did finally go to Washington after about a year, and was cleared automatically. I think by that time the scandal had blown away. And I got a permanent job in the programming department, which really started me off with game shows.
[on whether The Gong Show (1976) was in direct contrast of American Idol (2002)]: That's what I've been told. I did an interview show on Fox and the host asked me if I watched American Idol, and I told him no, and he just refused to believe me. He kept repeating the question over and over. Maybe it's out of jealousy because I think they did make American Idol infinitely better than The Gong Show.
[Of his interest in working in game shows]: Only that I was privy to watching them. See, ABC would go on the air at 5 at night, and they wanted to get competitive with NBC and CBS. So they backed up-they went from 5 to 4 to 3 to 2, all the way back to 1-and they did it with game shows, because a) They were inexpensive, and b) If they hit, they hit big, and if they didn't hit, they could be replaced immediately. So game shows were on a 13-week cycle, which was not much. It's like three months, which was only about eight weeks, really, because they had to give you four weeks' notice. So ABC tried tons of game shows. Tons. And I'm there watching them as a low-level clerk. I watched what worked. I watched what didn't work at the time and what I hoped we could do differently at the time. Then, when I thought the time was right, I went out and created The Dating Game and went back and sold it to ABC.
[Who responded if he watched game shows]: I never even watched them when I was creating them because I didn't want to be influenced by anyone. I hate game shows. But that doesn't mean you can't create them and be successful.

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