The Gong Show‘s Gene Gene the Dancing Machine has died in Pasadena, California from diabetes complications.
He was 82.
Outside of The Gong Show, he was known simply as Eugene Patton.
On The Gong Show, he was known as the stagehand who would appear on stage when Count Basie’s upbeat hit “Jumpin’ at the Woodside” would blast out and the host, Chuck Barris, would say, “Gene Gene the Dancing Machine!”
Eugene Patton, in a true showing of the times, would wear a green windbreaker and bell bottoms to shimmy around in on The Gong Show while stuff was thrown at him. To the delight of the crowd, he would show up at random times.
Host Chuck Barris, the “celebrity” judges, and the audience would join in Patton’s kooky dancing.
The role Eugene Patton played on The Gong Show was pretty much par for the show, which was sort of random and quirky itself.
The Gong Show was a huge afternoon hit for NBC from 1976 to 1978. It was also quite popular in the syndicated version, which ran from 1976 until 1980.
During his career after The Gong Show, Patton enjoyed roles in a few movies including My Tutor, The Gong Show Movie and he also got to star as himself in the Chuck Barris biopic, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.
For a while, Patton was even a cameraman on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show.
He was also the first black member of the stagehand union.
Before his death, the loveable and quirky fixture of The Gong Show had already lost both of his legs to diabetes.
Eugene Patton, or Gene Gene The Dancing Machine, is survived by a sister, four children, nine grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
What a loss for a great era of television.
Did you ever watch The Gong Show?