Remembering Gene Gene The Dancing Machine

By on March 11, 2015

We thought we’d interrupt our regular programming to bring you this sad news — Gene Gene The Dancing Machine, born Eugene Patton, has died.

Patton (April 25, 1932 – March 9, 2015) is best known the dancing stagehand on The Gong Show, who would interrupt the proceedings whenever the piano player in Milton DeLugg’s band would begin to play the first few bars of the Count Basie tune “Jumpin’ at the Woodside.”

These bits were written into the show, and provided host and Gong Show creator/producer Chuck Barris with the opportunity to join him onstage, pretty much bringing the show to whatever the opposite of a standstill is. Patton’s fellow stagehands would frequently toss items onto the stage — while their co-worker ignored them and continued to boogie on down. T

he Dancing Machine also appeared as an occasional judge on the show, which was taped on Stage 3 at NBC Studios in Burbank, California. According to his Wikipedia entry, he was the first African-American member of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees, Local 33, and his performances on the show gained him membership in AFTRA.

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Here’s more from Wiki: Patton performed on the NBC edition of The Gong Show until its cancellation in 1978 and on the weekly syndicated series until its cancellation in 1980.

For the last two seasons of the syndicated series, Patton’s appearances were scaled back significantly; NBC had evicted The Gong Show from its studios following its cancellation and production moved to what is now KTLA’s studios in Los Angeles. Patton also appeared in The Gong Show Movie (check out the trailer below).

He appeared as a workman on a 1983 movie called My Tutor, and he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (his appearance is collected on a DVD set, The Best Of Carson, Vol. 1). In 2002, he appeared as himself in the George Clooney-directed movie based on Barris’s autobiography, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.
  • David Fullam

    RIP

  • Jeff Missinne

    Back then, TV critics and others thought the Gong Show and Benny Hill were the End Of Civilization As We Know It. Now it all seems so good-natured and innocent compared to today’s exploitative, mean-spirited “reality” TV. So long, “Gene Gene,” and thanks for some fun memories.