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Chuck Barris, The Gong Show Host, Dies at 87

He also created The Dating Game

Joyce Eng

Chuck Barris
, the host of The Gong Show, has died. He was 87.

Barris passed away of natural causes Tuesday in his Palisades, N.Y., home, his rep told the Associated Press.

A Philadelphia native, Barris got his start as a page at NBC before working in the daytime programming division at ABC, where he was responsible for choosing which game shows to air. He created his first game show, The Dating Game, in 1965, followed by The Newlywed Game a year later.

In 1976, Barris was tapped to host The Gong Show, an absurd amateur talent contest in which he stopped bad performances by striking a gong. The show was a huge hit with viewers but critically panned, earning him the nicknames "The King of Schlock" and "The Baron of Bad Taste." The show ran on NBC from 1976 to '78 and in syndication from 1977 to '80. Last October, ABC ordered a 10-episode revival with Will Arnett.

Chuck Barris, The Gong Show

Chuck Barris, The Gong Show

NBC, NBC via Getty Images

Barris' other credits include The New Treasure Hunt, $1.98 Beauty Show, The Chuck Barris Rah-Rah Show and The Gong Show Movie, which bombed at the box office in 1980.
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In 1984, Barris published his autobiography Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, in which he says he once worked as a CIA assassin -- a claim the agency has denied. The book was adapted into a 2002 movie by Charlie Kaufman, starring Sam Rockwell as Barris, and marked George Clooney's directorial debut.

He released a sequel to his book, Bad Grass Never Dies, in 2004. In 2010, he published Della: A Memoir of My Daughter, about the death of his only child who died in 1998 at 36 of a drug overdose.

Barris was also a successful songwriter, penning "Palisades Park," which was recorded by Freddy Cannon and hit No. 3 on Billboard in 1962.

Barris was married three times, first to Lyn Levy, with whom he had Della, and then Robin Altman. He is survived by his wife of 17 years, Mary.