Chris Bearde, Writer on 'Laugh-In' and Creator of 'The Gong Show,' Dies at 80

Courtesy of Tyler Bearde
Chris Bearde

The Emmy winner also co-wrote the landmark Elvis Presley comeback special for NBC that aired in 1968.

Chris Bearde, who wrote for Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, produced The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and created The Gong Show, has died. He was 80.

Bearde died Sunday morning of a sudden heart attack at his home in Westlake, Calif., his son, Tyler Bearde, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Bearde collected nine Emmy Award nominations and won a writing trophy in 1968 for his work on Laugh-In.

Bearde also co-wrote Elvis Presley's comeback special for NBC in 1968 and was an executive producer on the 1974-75 ABC sitcom That's My Mama, one of the first network comedies to feature a predominately black cast

A native of Australia who created two shows for the Canadian network CTV before coming to Hollywood, Bearde also was a producer on other variety shows like The Andy Williams Show, The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show, The Ken Berry 'Wow' Show and The Bobby Vinton Show.

He partnered often with Canadian producer Allan Blye and late in his career created the Showtime comedy Sherman Oaks.

Bearde came up with the format for The Gong Show before selling his interest in the 1970s version of the program to producer (and later host of the show) Chuck Barris.

Survivors also include his wife Carolyn; his other children Amanda, Samantha, Ema, Christopher and Sarra; and six grandchildren.