Gene Gene the Dancing Machine
Gene Gene the Dancing Machine
Eugene Sidney Patton, Sr
April 25, 1932
|Died||March 9, 2015 (aged 82)|
|Occupation||Television personality, dancer, stagehand|
Eugene Sidney Patton, Sr (April 25, 1932 – March 9, 2015), also known as Gene Patton and more widely known by his stage name Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, was a television personality, dancer and stagehand who worked at NBC Studios in Burbank, California. Patton was the first African-American member of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees, Local 33.
Patton's claim to fame, however, was from his various appearances on the network's talent search game show, The Gong Show. In addition to his stage duties, Patton was one of several amateur performers who would warm up and entertain the audience during commercial breaks. Host Chuck Barris found him so entertaining that he had him dance on the show on-air, and he proved so popular that he soon became a recurring act, an occasional judge, and eventually the regular closing act for the show with the credits rolling over his enthusiastic dancing. The genial Patton usually wore the same outfit each time he appeared, which consisted of a green windbreaker jacket, a painter's cap, bell-bottomed pants, and sneakers.
On The Gong Show, Patton's appearances were treated as if they were spontaneous (in reality, they were written into the show). After Barris would finish with a certain act, the piano player in Milton DeLugg's band would begin to play in octaves the familiar bass line of the first few bars of "Jumpin' at the Woodside", a Count Basie song, and the proceedings would come to an immediate halt once Barris heard the music. Barris would usually react with gleeful surprise, then announce the arrival of Gene Gene the Dancing Machine. The curtain would then rise and Patton would come out moving his feet and moving his shoulders to the music, with Barris usually dancing along. DeLugg's arrangement morphed perfectly into Basie's "One O'Clock Jump" at which time Gene showed off his trademark "armspread" move, along with everyone else in the house! As all this happened, Patton's fellow stagehands would toss things onto the stage while he continued to dance. Through his performances, Patton gained membership in AFTRA.
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 after cancelling the series and production moved to what is now KTLA's studios in Los Angeles; since Patton's full-time job was working for NBC and not for Barris, he remained there.
After The Gong Show
- Patton appeared in The Gong Show Movie, which was released in 1980. He had some dialogue in the film.
- Patton worked as a stagehand on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and appeared on screen in at least two episodes. Once on June 20, 1984, as part of Johnny's soap opera parody, in which Johnny refers to him as "Buford Styversen, Sludge Falls' only blues singer", and once on March 12, 1986, in which he played a general.
- Patton appeared on the November 3, 1993 episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien doing his trademark shuffle during an interview with Barris.
- Patton had a cameo as himself in the film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which was based on Barris' autobiography.
- Patton lost both legs due to complications from diabetes in 2001. He wore prostheses and walked with a cane.
Patton died in Pasadena, California on March 9, 2015, from complications from diabetes.
- Reardon, Dave (2002-10-20). "Patton just a part of an athletic 'Bunch'". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
- Barnes, Mike. "Gene Patton Dead: 'Gong Show' Dancing Machine Was 82". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-03-14.
- "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind". The New York Times.