“Gong Show” host Bar­ris claimed to be CIA as­sas­sin

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Travis M. An­drews

From his bound­ary-push­ing game shows to his strange claims of be­ing a CIA as­sas­sin, Chuck Bar­ris lived large.

The host of “The Gong Show” and the cre­ative force be­hind “The Dat­ing Game,” “The New­ly­wed Game” and many other game shows died of nat­u­ral causes Tues­day at 87 in Pal­isades, N.Y., his pub­li­cist an­nounced.

Bar­ris loaded ’60s and ’70s tele­vi­sion with game shows and later made waves when in an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy he claimed to be an as­sas­sin for the CIA, which the agency flatly de­nied. This book was adapted into a fea­ture film “Con­fes­sions of a Dan­ger­ous Mind.”

Bar­ris be­gan his ca­reer as a song­writer — his big­gest hit was “Pal­isades Park” for Fred­die “Boom Boom” Can­non in 1962 — but he truly burst into show busi­ness in 1965 with the de­but of his brain­child “The Dat­ing Game,” an up­dated, tele­vised ver­sion of a World War II ra­dio show ti­tled “Blind Date.”

Hosted by Jim Lange, the show’s premise was sim­ple. A di­vider sep­a­rated a three men from a woman. With­out be­ing able to see the el­i­gi­ble bach­e­lors, she would ask each a few ques­tions. At the end of the show, she chose her date based solely on their an­swers. Some­times a man asked three women ques­tions.

Fu­eled by its suc­cess, Bar­ris cre­ated sev­eral more of the genre we now call re­al­ity shows, most end­ing in the word “Game.” Among them were “The New­ly­wed Game,” “The Par­ent Game,” “The Fam­ily Game” and “The Game Game.”

From 1976 to 1980, he be­came not just a house­hold name but a rec­og­niz­able face as the host of his mag­num opus of low­brow en­ter­tain­ment, “The Gong Show.”

Bar­ris’ most outlandish mo­ment, though, came in 1982 when he wrote an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy an­nounc­ing he had served as a con­tract CIA as­sas­sin dur­ing his time work­ing in tele­vi­sion.

Bebeto Matthews, As­so­ci­ated Press file

Chuck Bar­ris, the man be­hind TV’s “The Dat­ing Game,” out­side his apart­ment in New York in 2002.

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