Friday, February 28, 2014

Rant #1,354: The Dating Game Ends



Yesterday, we all heard that Jim Lange, the host of "The Dating Game," died earlier in the week. He was 81.

Lange was a veteran California disk jockey, who like some others of the time, including Bob Eubanks and Bob Crane, found their way into TV history.

Chuck Barris' two main TV game shows--"The Dating Game" and "The Newlywed Game"--came years before reality TV became a known commodity, but the shows pretty much set the pace for the racier programs that were to follow.

Lange held "The Dating Game" together as its host. If you remember, three people on one side of a wall--usually guys--competed for the attention of one person on the other side of the wall--usually a comely lass.

The person on one side of the wall would ask silly questions to the people on the other side of the wall, and that is where the fun ensued.

And like its counterpart "The Newlywed Game," the show was pretty risque for its time, and some of the answers given were light by today's standards, but for the time, they could be pretty racy.

Lange--who, through the years of the show, wore his hair longer and wore some of the most outlandish "mod" outfits that you would ever want to see--pushed the show along to a conclusion, helping contestants move on to the next question or tying the whole thing in a bow.

And who could forget the smooch that contestants planted at the end of the show? He must have planted 1,000 of these.

"And here they are ... ."

And agents used to place their up and coming stars on this show with regularity. The likes of Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, the Ahnold, Tom Selleck, Pee Wee Herman and many, many others appeared on this show, and you had to wonder how many of those dates actually were kept.

The show could be embarrassing. The worst one that I remember is when Kareem Abdul Jabbar, as Lew Alcindor during his UCLA basketball playing days, was on the show, and three ladies were on the other side answering his questions.

The problem was that he picked (or it was chosen for him, I always wondered about this) a girl who was probably at least two feet shorter than his 7 foot-plus frame. He looked embarrassed, as did the girl, and it made for some quirky TV, that's for sure.

However well known Lange was as a TV game show host--he hosted a few other shows--he was really more of a DJ, and when the TV work dried up, that is what he went back to.

He was very well known out west as a DJ, and acted in that capacity at least through the better part of the early 2000s.

But to most baby boomers, no matter what else he did--DJing, acting, voice overs, etc.--he was the host of "The Dating Game," and little else.

R.I.P. another major personality of the baby boomer generation who has left us way too soon.

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