Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Arts and Entertainment

"Family Feud" Host Richard Dawson Dead at 79

Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your tax-deductible financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

Richard Dawson, the beloved "Match Game" panelist and longtime "Family Feud" host has died. He was 79.

The British-born Dawson came to Hollywood in the early 1960s as a television actor. He is best known for his role as Cpl. Peter Newkirk on Hogan's Heroes, which ran from 1965-1971. He also appeared on Laugh-In and The New Dick Van Dyke Show.

But Dawson became even more well known for his appearances on game shows. He was a fixture in the bottom row of the goofy, suggestive Match Game, signing on in '73. In 1976 Family Feud hit the airwaves with Dawson as host, and it was a breakout hit.

In addition to just getting the contestant families to guess answers to survey questions, he also mugged endlessly and flirted with the women, many of whom he'd lean in to kiss. When "Feud" ended in 1985, it was estimated he'd kissed about 20,000 women on the show.

Support for LAist comes from

For his role as "Feud" host, Dawson won an Emmy in 1978.

Though he did return to host a new version of the show for one season in 1994, Dawson shifted to play the occasional film role in the remainder of his career. He lived in Beverly Hills with his wife, Gretchen, who he'd met when she was a "Family Feud" contestant in 1981.

Dawson died Saturday night at Ronald Reagan Memorial Hospital from complications related to esophageal cancer. Of note, Dawson died 16 years to the day later than Ray Combs, his successor as the host of "Family Feud" who committed suicide while hospitalized.

Here's Dawson dealing with a contestant struggling to find an answer: