Chuck Barris, who immortalized N.J. park in song, dies at 87

By | March 23, 2017

PALISADES, N.Y. — Television personality and author Chuck Barris, who penned the 1962 pop song “Palisades Park,” died at his home here March 21. He was 87.

Although best known for creating and hosting the mostly-for-laughs, 1976-launched TV talent showcase The Gong Show and producing, among others, the popular reality-based game shows The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game, Barris also was a prolific author. He authored several novels and a controversial, self-described 1984 autobiography, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, in which he said that he was an assassin for the C.I.A. during the 1960s. (The agency refuted that claim.) The latter book was adapted into a 2003 film of the same name directed by George Clooney.

Prior to his TV success, Barris, who was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Drexel University, wrote the song “Palisades Park,” which was inspired by Palisades Amusement Park in Bergen County, N.J. As sung by Freddy Cannon, the tune became a hit — landing at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in June 1962. It was the singer’s biggest success.

Numerous other recordings of “Palisades Park” were made thereafter, including renditions by Shelley Fabares, Jan and Dean, The Beach Boys and The Ramones. Cannon himself re-recorded the song in 1987 as “Kennywood Park,” named and adjusted for the still-operating amusement park in West Mifflin, Pa.

Barris is survived by his wife of 16 years, Mary.

—Dean Lamanna