(Reuters) - Eugene Patton, the stage hand who earned fame as “Gene Gene The Dancing Machine” on the quirky talent romp “The Gong Show,” has died at the age of 82 after suffering from diabetes, his family said.
At what were supposed to be spontaneous moments in the show launched in the 1970s that celebrated offbeat and sometimes awful acts, Count Basie’s upbeat “Jumpin’ at the Woodside” would blast out and host Chuck Barris would bellow out “Gene Gene the Dancing Machine,” setting the stage for Patton.
The stage hand, usually wearing a green windbreaker, painter’s hat and bell bottom pants, would dance his way on to stage, show off his moves and ignore a volley of items thrown his way ranging from clothing to rubber fish.
Barris, the show’s B-List celebrity judges and the audience would usually join along in dance.
Patton appeared briefly in the 2002 movie about Barris directed by George Clooney called “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.”
Patton lost both of his legs to diabetes. He died on March 9, according to a death notice issued by his family.
A funeral is planned for March 21 in Pasadena, California.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Alison Williams