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Richard Dawson

Dead at 79

6/3/2012 12:30 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Richard Dawson, the legendary host of "Family Feud," has died from complications due to esophageal cancer ... this according to his son. 
Gary Dawson posted a Facebook message early this morning that read:

"It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my father passed away this evening from complications due to esophageal cancer. He was surrounded by his family. He was an amazing talent, a loving husband, a great dad, and a doting grandfather. He will be missed but always remembered..."

Dawson hosted "Feud" from 1976-1985, and then from 1994-1995. He was also famous for being a regular on "The Match Game" and for appearing in the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger action film "The Running Man."  One of his biggest roles -- Dawson played Capt. Peter Newkirk on "Hogan's Heros," a wildly popular show in the 60's.


Dawson was married to Gretchen Johnson ... interesting fact -- he met her when she was part of a contestant family on The Feud and got hitched in 1991. Dawson was famous during the first run of the show for kissing all the female contestants -- he was known as "The Kissing Bandit."  But in the second run, he kissed no one -- a promise he made to Gretchen.

Prior to Gretchen, Dawson was married to Diana Dors, a sex symbol back in the day. They had 2 sons.

Steve Harvey, the current host of "Family Feud," tweeted today, "I have been Blessed because of Richard Dawson's work ...the birth of Family Feud. God Bless You Sir- You Were The Best"


Dawson in his final episode hosting "Family Feud" in 1985 (before returning 10 years later).


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Let's clarify two things, in Hogan's Hero's he was Corporal Newkirk, not "CAPT". and by no means can Running Man be called a classic.

840 days ago


"I abhor grades - if a child does his best, that's all that should be asked" - Richard Dawson.
Agreed, public school system is an experiment that failed; judging kid's personal potential in life by a mark on school tests is idiocy.
RIP Richard, good man, wise man.

840 days ago


Never will forget him as the host on Family Feud. "Survey says" his upbeat voice. He had a great personality. Condolences to his family and friends. RIP.

840 days ago


Ah yes, the weekend TMZ staff. Cannot be bothered to check when he was married to Diana Dor, so just put the inane "back in the day". That should do it... idiots.

840 days ago


Aw. May he rest in peace.

840 days ago


WAIT...this isn't a story about faigs? Why is it on this site?

840 days ago


Ok, how crazy is it that he met his wife whilst she was a member of a contestant family?

Richard Dawkins... Giving hope to fangirls everywhere!

A wonderful talent, always enjoyable to watch. Rest in Peace, Brother...

840 days ago

maryann Conklin    

So sorry to hear he died loved family feud he had such a great personality.he will be missed my condolences to his family hope he wasn't sick. Rip

840 days ago


R.I.P. Enjoyed you Richard!

840 days ago


I guess a lot of people remember him from Family Feud but he'll always be Newkirk to me. R.I.P. Mr Dawson

840 days ago


He was corporal Newkirk on Hogans Heroes not captain. He will be missed and noone will ever make family feud as fun as he did..He truly was a great actor....

840 days ago

EBL RIP Richard

840 days ago


Loved him!! So sad. Can you imagine a game show host today getting away with kissing all the female contestants on the lips? Sad how we've moved backwards as a society. R.I.P Richard, and thank you for all the great memories

840 days ago


Corporal Peter Newkirk, not CAPTAIN.

"TMZ...We don't need accuracy. If we're not right, our readers are".

Don't forget his time on Rowan and Martins Laugh In and the NEW Dick Van Dyke show.

840 days ago


I love him, so sad RIP Richard.

840 days ago
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