The Dating Game was an ABC television show that first
aired in 1965 and was created by Chuck Barris. ABC dropped the show in
1973, but it resurfaced in several syndicated version.
For years it would almost always be aired in tandem with another Barris
Newlywed Game, which premiered on ABC the following year.
Typically, a bachelorette would question three bachelors, who were
hidden from her view; at the end of the questioning period, she would
choose one to go out with on a date paid for by the show. Occasionally,
the roles would be reversed, with a man questioning three ladies; other
times, a celebrity would question three players for a date for themselves,
a co-worker, or a relative of theirs. Many celebrities played the game
looking for love themselves.
Some unknown contestants would later become quite famous, including
Suzanne Somers, Farrah Fawcett, Andy Kaufman, Burt Reynolds, Michael
Jackson, Sally Field, John Ritter, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Selleck
(who went on the show twice and lost each time!). The United States Court
of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit judge Alex Kozinski appeared on it and
won. One standard feature was that at the end of each episode the host and
winning contestants would blow a kiss to the viewers.
This was a forerunner for a number of other shows done in the same
style (although a show called Blind Date was matching up
contestants in a much tamer setting almost two decades earlier). The 1970s
version of the show was much more sexually explicit (and played for
laughs) than other versions.
It was was hosted by Los Angeles disc jockey Jim Lange throughout the
'60s and '70s, by Elaine Joyce and later Jeff MacGregor in the '80s (in
which future stars Cuba Gooding Jr., Oprah Winfrey, and Jim Carrey
appeared as contestants), and by Brad Sherwood and later Chuck Woolery in
the '90s. Woolery had previously hosted the long-running Love Connection,
a show which owed its existence to this series.
Lange went on to host a number of game shows in the '70s and '80s, none
of which matched the popularity of The Dating Game in its prime. He
remains a popular radio personality.