Eugene Patton (b. April 25, 1932 - d. March 9, 2015) also known as Gene Patton and more widely known as 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 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 and producer 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 which consisted of a green windbreaker jacket, a painter's cap, bell-bottom pants, and sneakers.
On The Gong Show Patton's appearance were treated as if they were spontaneous (in reality, they were written for the show) After Barris would finish with a certain act, the piano player in Milton DeLugg's band would begin to play 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 shuffling his feet and moving his shoulders to the music, with Barris usually dancing along. As this would happen, Patton's stagehands would toss things onto the stage while he continued to dance. Through his performance, Patton gained membership in AFTRA (American Federation of Radio and Television Arts).
Patton continued to perform 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 weeks of the syndicated series, Patton's appearances were scaled back significantly; NBC had evicted The Gong Show from its studio following its cancellation and production moved to what is now KTLA's studios in Los Angeles.
After The Gong Show
Patton appeared in the 1980s flop The Gong Show Movie where he had some dialogue in the film. Additionally, Patton had also made a cameo appearance as himself in the 2002 film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind which in turn was based on Barris' 2002 autobiographical book of the same name.
Personal Life and Death
In 2001, Patton has lost both of his legs due to complications from diabetes which results in him wearing prosthetics and walking with a cane.
On March 9, 2015, Patton died from his home in Pasadena, California also from complications from diabetes at the age of 82.