I started the Coach4aday blog in 2014 and have done daily posts on one topic for each year. In 2014 my daily posts were on the “Beer of the Day”, 2015 it was “A Friend of a Friend”, 2016 I wrote about “North Carolina”, and in 2017 it was “Colleges and Universities”.
The one consistent piece of feedback I have received with this blog is the 2015 series on “A Friend of a Friend”. Readers and blog followers said please bring it back. The stats also back that up with the number of views each of those posts received.
So in 2018 two things will happen with the Coach4aday blog; One I plan to collaborate with a friend named John Rancke and revisit some of those 2015 “A Friend of a Friend” posts and do some new ones with a slightly different twist. I write the posts on odd-numbered days each month and John handles the even-numbered days.
In addition John and I will write about things we both are interested which will include basketball, food, people, music, our granddaughters, and great stories.
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My twitter handle is @coach4aday2 if you want to follow the blog that way.
John’s twitter handle is @johnrancke if you want to reach out to him.
March 26, 2018 Gene, Gene The Dancing Machine
Post by John Rancke
Take a former CIA operative (or he claimed) with 35 kills to his credit (so he claimed), put him on NBC in the 70s, mix in some drugs (there had to be drugs in the 70s) with the CIA connection (or so he claimed), and what do you get. Chuck Barris came up with The Gong Show. I think you can best describe the show as the 70s “Americas Got Talent”, but we sent the talented ones home.
Chuck Barris story was made into a movie in 2002 and it was directed by George Clooney and was called “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”. It is never considered for consideration when the Top 500 movies of all time are discussed. The movie did feature Julie Roberts.
So the premise of The Gong Show was for non-talented performers to come on stage, start their routine, and the judges see just how much they can stand before beating on this large gong signaling that the performance can end. Sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t. Give a man or woman a little airtime and they try to milk it for as long as they can. The acts were awful, believe me.
So when the show would go to commercial breaks, there would be some performers to entertain the audience during the breaks. Evidently there might have been some truth to Chuck Barris claim he was in the CIA because he spotted this NBC Studio stagehand dancing over in the corner during rehearsals one day and decided to put him on stage during the show.
So Gene, Gene, The Dancing Machine is born. He usually wore the same outfit. Sneakers, a green jacket, bell-bottomed pants, and a painter’s cap to top it off. And that smile to light up the entire room!
His name was Eugene S. Patton, Sr. He was born on April 25, 1932 and passed away on March 9, 2015 from complications with diabetes. He lost both legs from to the disease in 2001. He was an employee of NBC Studios in Burbank. He was also the FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEMBER OF THE INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF THEATRICAL AND STAGE EMPLOYEES Local 33.
Gene became a recurring act and often sat in as a judge until he later became the closing act of the show while the credits would roll. Gene’s appearance would seem spontaneous, at least for the first couple of shows until you realized that the only rehearsal needed for this show was deciding when Gene was coming out. He and that other guy, The Unknown Comic. The performers sure didn’t need to rehearse. You can’t be that bad intentionally more than once.
So the piano player in the band would begin the first couple of bass lines in Count Basie’s “Jumpin’ at the Woodside”. Barris would hear it and would go nuts announcing the arrival of Gene, Gene, The Dancing Machine. Gene would appear from backstage through the curtain moving and grooving to the music. Barris would jump in and join Gene and then the music would change to “One O’Clock Jump” and Gene would begin his arm movements that soon became a participation dance as the audience would join in. The stage would become littered with stuffed animals, clothes, toys, and even an occasional human being tossed by the other stagehands off camera. Once judge Jaye P. Morgan took off her shirt and bra and tossed it at Gene. Chuck Barris loved to dribble a basketball on stage and would toss it at Gene’s head.
Patton performed with the Gong Show until it was canceled in 1978 and with the syndicated series until 1980. Gene worked for NBC and not Chuck Barris so his work was cut back on the show.
When Gene lost his legs in 2001, he wore prostheses and walked with a cane. Gene, Gene The Dancing Machine went from a high school janitor to a household name in the 70s.
Gene later worked for Jay Leno on the Tonight Show as a camera man.
The Gong Show had more than 500 acts perform over the years. There was only one act that ever had any success in the entertainment business. Louanne Sirota starred as Annie on several touring companies of Annie. She also starred with George Burns in Oh God II.
For all of Chuck Barris and his antics, he had some talent. He came up with The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game. He also wrote the song “Palisades Park” for Freddy Cannon.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnLCvpgPD_s Palisades Park
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUThxC_mvIE David Letterman was a judge