Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Obituary: Chuck Barris

Game show mogul, composer of the sixties hit "Palisades Park," novelist, and supposed spy or assassin or whatever he claimed to be, the diminutive Chuck Barris, 87, has died. No cause of death was given.

Barris was married three times. His only child, a daughter, died of a drug overdose in 1998.

His shows appealed to the lowest common denominator. He was the creator and producer of The Dating Game and the even worse Newlywed Game in the 1960s, but he is perhaps most remembered for the 1970s stinker The Gong Show, a show in which he acted as the cute-as-a-button host.

From the New York Times obit:

Mr. Barris always bristled at the “King of Schlock” label that was hung on him as far back as “The Dating Game.” In a 2003 interview with Newsweek, he noted that shows much like the ones he created were by the 21st century being received differently.

“Today these shows are accepted,” he said. “These shows aren’t seen as lowering any bars.”

By the end of the 1970s, thanks to “The Gong Show,” Mr. Barris’s television production company was busy and profitable, but he was itchy to try something else. What he tried, disastrously, was “The Gong Show Movie,” which he directed and, with Robert Downey Sr., wrote. It was released in May 1980 and flopped.

Mr. Barris gradually withdrew from television, selling his holdings, spending most of his time in France and turning to writing. He had already written one book, “You and Me, Babe” (1974), a novel about a television producer whose marriage failed; it drew heavily on his own rocky marriage to Lyn Levy, a niece of the powerful CBS chief William S. Paley, in the 1950s. They were divorced in 1976.

A supposed autobiography, the 1984 Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, is the book Barris claimed to have been an assassin for the CIA.

Whatever the truth, he was an assassin of good taste and class.

He was once called "The King of Slob Culture," but Barris didn't care all that much. With his money, people could call him anything they wanted.

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