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SAN FRANCISCO — Jim Lange, the first host of the popular game show “The Dating Game,” has died at his home in Mill Valley, Calif. He died Tuesday morning after suffering a heart attack, his wife Nancy told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Though Lange had a successful career in radio, he is best known for his television role on ABC’s “The Dating Game,” which debuted in 1965 and on which he appeared for more than a decade, charming audiences with his mellifluous voice and wide, easygoing grin. Michael Jackson, Steve Martin and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others, appeared as contestants.

“He loved doing local radio, especially before it was computerized.” Lange himself once told the Bay Area Radio Digest that his favorite aspect of the medium was that “you don’t have to worry about lighting directors and cameramen or script writers and all that.” “Good radio is still the most fun,” he said, “It always will be.

“They wanted the boy to do sports and the girl to do the dances and stuff that was going on in the Twin Cities — very sexist — and play music once a week.” He hosted that show for two years before attending the University of Minnesota and doing a three-year stint in the Marines, according to the Bay Area Radio Museum.The gimmick: a young female questions three males, hidden from her view, to determine which would be the best date.Sometimes the process was switched, with a male questioning three females.The grinning, curly-haired Barris became a familiar face as creator and host of "The Gong Show," which aired from 1976 to 1980.Patterned after the Major Bowes Amateur Hour show that was a radio hit in the 1930s, the program featured performers who had peculiar talents and, often, no talent at all.

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, died Tuesday of a heart attack in his Mill Valley, CA home. Lange hosted the game show for more than a decade after it debuted in 1965, and over those years played host to contestants including Michael Jackson, Steve Martin, Farrah Fawcett and Arnold Schwarzenegger competing for the right to win a date by answering questions that were intended to illicit PG-13 responses well before there was such a thing as PG-13.

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