Gene Patton Dies & You May Not Recognize His Name, But His Moves Were Legendary

This is tragic news to hear. The NBC stagehand best known for his appearance on the '70s game show The Gong Show, Gene Patton, has passed away at the age of 82. According to his obituary printed in the L.A.-area local paper the Pasadena Star-News, the TV personality had suffered from diabetes and died in Pasadena on Monday. His family confirmed the news.

Patton was originally a stagehand on the zany NBC show. Patton was a fixture on the series after the show's producer and host, Chuck Barris, noticed him dancing in a corner one day and was so entertained by Patton's rhythmic and minimalist dancing that he gave him a spot on the show.

The game show, which ran from 1976 to 1978 before entering syndication, featured a variety of dubiously talented performers, many of whom were unceremoniously dismissed by the sounding of a gong. At some point during every show, Barris would introduce Patton as "Gene Gene The Dancing Machine." Patton would then dance in the center of the stage, always to Count Basie's “Jumpin’ at the Woodside," and everyone on set would join in on the infectious dance number while the crowd cheered.

Eugene Patton was born on April 25, 1932. Previously a janitor, he was the first African-American member of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees. He is survived by his sister Henrietta, his children Carol, Bonnie, Courtney, and Sidney, and his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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