Those were the days, my friends…
Chuck Barris was the successful producer of two blockbuster game shows in the 60’s, The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game, but it was only after he became the quirky host of a quirky talent show called The Gong Show in 1976 that Americans got to know him.
What they didn’t know about him, at least according to his memoir, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, was that he was moonlighting as an assassin for the CIA. Whether you believe him or not, the memoir, originally published in 1984, was a very entertaining book and was made into a successful film in 2002 by George Clooney.
The Gong Show, however, was a real cultural phenomenon. Its unique personalites, like Jaye P. Morgan, Gene Gene the Dancing Machine and The Unknown Comic kept viewers laughing, and more than a little confused. Throw in a pack of very strange entertainers, and Barris had created a show that couldn’t help but succeed.
In the above video from 1977, you may recognize the two performers at the 10:45 mark. One is Paul Reubens, who went on to fame and fortune as Pee Wee Herman, and the other is Laurie Metcalf who was, among other roles, Roseanne Barr’s sister on her hit 90’s sitcom, Roseanne.
Read “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” by Chuck Barris.
Watch “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” the movie.