TV’s Gene Gene the Dancing Machine dies

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Eugene Patton, the stagehand who became “Gene Gene the Dancing Machine” on television’s “The Gong Show” in the late 1970s, has died.

Patton died in Pasadena, California on March 9 of complications from diabetes, his son Sidney Patton said on Wednesday.

A veteran stagehand, Patton worked on shows like “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” ”The Flip Wilson Show” and “The Richard Pryor Show.” He moved onstage for a shuffling dance to Count Basie’s “Jumpin’ at the Woodside” on “The Gong Show,” the absurdist talent show hosted by Chuck Barris.

Patton’s first appearance was an attempt to kill time on the show, but he soon became a regular feature, twisting his feet and dodging objects thrown onstage as the studio audience cheered.