Patton's claim to fame, however, was from his various appearances on the network's talent search game show, The Gong Show. In addition to his stage duties, Patton was one of several amateur performers who would warm up and entertain the audience during commercial breaks. Host Chuck Barris found him so entertaining that he had him dance on the show on-air, and he proved so popular that he soon became a recurring act, an occasional judge, and eventually the regular closing act for the show with the credits rolling over his enthusiastic dancing. The genial Patton usually wore the same outfit each time he appeared, which consisted of a green windbreaker jacket, a painter's cap, bell-bottomed pants, and sneakers.
On The Gong Show, Patton's appearances were treated as if they were spontaneous (in reality, they were written into the show). After Barris would finish with a certain act, the piano player in Milton DeLugg's band would begin to play the first few bars of "Jumpin' at the Woodside", a Count Basie song, and the proceedings would come to an immediate halt once Barris heard the music. Barris would usually react with gleeful surprise, then announce the arrival of Gene Gene the Dancing Machine. The curtain would then rise and Patton would come out shuffling his feet and moving his shoulders to the music, with Barris usually dancing along. As this would happen, Patton's fellow stagehands would toss things onto the stage while he continued to dance. Through his performances, Patton gained membership in AFTRA.
Patton performed on the NBC edition of The Gong Show until its cancellation in 1978 and on the weekly syndicated series until its cancellation in 1980. For the last two seasons of the syndicated series, Patton's appearances were scaled back significantly; NBC had evicted The Gong Show from its studios following its cancellation and production moved to what is now KTLA's studios in Los Angeles.
Dance on, Gene. Dance on!