When I first read about the death of Chuck Barris, my initial reaction was disbelief. Not “Oh no, no way” disbelief — but actual informed educated disbelief. In college, I had written a paper about celebrity death hoaxes, and Chuck Barris was the target of many.
However, today’s news of his passing, at the age of 87, is real. Real real. As real as death.
So while you are reading all the accounts of his outrageousness and zany wackiness, I want you to remember him the way I do: Chuck Barris inspires.
FIVE INSPIRING LESSONS THE LIFE OF FROM CHUCK BARRIS
1) Don’t Take No For An Answer. Chuck Barris was a successful television producer because he studied those who went before him, showed up prepared, and when he got told “No,” he came back with something bigger and better.
2) Dream Bigger. Chuck Barris started as a page at NBC, worked backstage at American Bandstand at ABC, then got promoted to head of daytime programming at ABC. It was there that he told his bosses that his own game show ideas he dreamt up were better than the drivel being pitched to him. They told him to put his money where his mouth was, so he did. He started Chuck Barris Productions, and the rest is history.
3) The Truth Is Hard, But Don’t Avoid It. In Della, the 2010 memoir of his daughter’s life and death due to alcohol and drug abuse, Chuck Barris uses the 224 ages to blame his poor fathering for her death. It is raw and honest and heartbreaking. Reading it will teach you to view the truth in its purest light. It’s a hard truth, but it’s the undiluted truth.
4) The Truth Is Sometimes Unbelievable, But Life’s Richer Taking The Leap Of Faith. In 2002’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind: An Unauthorized Autobiography, Chuck Barris presents a different kind of truth: He admits to being a covert CIA assassin who had killed over 30 people. Simon And Shuster released it as non-fiction. George Clooney, who made his directorial debut with the film adaptation of the book, posited what place was it of his to question its truth? (Although he was grinning when he said it — but then again isn’t Clooney always grinning?) A writer very close to me said once about a non-fiction piece she wrote that she tried to accurately convey the pure truth, but when she was unclear on the specifics she invented specifics that were true to the sentiment of the facts. I like that. A lot. Getting back to Barris. I’m saying here, once and for all, that I believe he is telling the truth. Besides, what do you gain with disbelief? However, when you choose to believe the unbelievable, the whole world opens up to you.
5) Leave Room For Kreplach. Life’s tough. Criticism can be hard. Things don’t always go your way. None of those things are a reason to skip dessert. (True Barris fans will understand this reference. If you don’t, fear not, I’ll explain it in next week’s blog post.)
Speaking of next week’s blog post, I want to give myself some space to process his death, but next week I will discuss Chuck Barris’ lifelong battles with anxiety and depression. He never rid himself of them, but he succeeded despite of them. That should inspire you too.