Throughout the school year, most kids only got a glimpse at daytime television when they were home sick. When summer vacation arrived however, and those hours of daily boredom inevitably set it, many of us spent hours channel surfing (on all, count ‘em, 13 channels!), through a vast wasteland of daytime soap operas, hoping that we might catch up on one of our old syndicated sitcom favorites. When that failed, we turned to game shows. And few of these programs were as memorable or entertaining in the 70s as a bizarre little offering called The Gong Show.
Hosted (and created) by Chuck Barris, The Gong Show originally aired from 1976-1980, with some 500 episodes being produced. The show consisted of a variety of performers (of all skill levels) who would compete for a top prize of $516.32. Standing in their way was a trio of judges, and a big ol’ gong. If someone’s performance was hideous enough, which was often the case, one or all of the judges would take it upon themselves to bang the gong, thereby putting the act out of its misery. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Of course, not all of the acts were horrible. Occasionally, they were quite good, as can be seen in this clip, featuring a little-known band at the time, The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo!
And finally, who could ever forget the formidable talents of a stagehand who will be forever remembered as “Gene Gene, the Dancing Machine.”
If you were a regular watcher of The Gong Show, we’ve no doubt that you’ve got a few recollections of your own. Share your Gong Show memories with all of us at Retroland as we pay tribute to this unique and zany show that will forever live in infamy.